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Labour publishes ‘file of failure’ detailing Tory mismanagement of £3.9bn during Covid crisis

THE TORIES have handed billions to dodgy recipients in the name of beating coronavirus, Labour will claim on Monday as it sets out its plan to help Britain recover from the economic fall-out of the pandemic.

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds will publish a “file of failure” detailing about £3.9 billion that Labour said the government has mismanaged and spent on ineffective schemes and equipment.

It will be published ahead of her keynote speech at the party’s online conference Labour Connected. 

The file reveals that £133 million was handed over to Conservative donor Randox Laboratories for testing kits, of which 750,000 had to be recalled by the Department of Health and Social Care because they turned out to be unsafe.

At least £150m of a £252m face mask contract with Ayanda Capital was wasted due to the unsuitability of one type of mask ordered.

Serco was contracted for £108m and Sitel £84m to run the national contact tracing service until late August, when their contracts were renewed despite poor performance. It is reported to have cost taxpayers £900 per person contacted by the scheme.

Edenred was awarded a £234m school meals voucher contract that is now under investigation by the National Audit Office. Parents and schools had reported problems with issuing and redeeming the vouchers weeks after the scheme launched. The government was able to end the contract after a month but chose not to.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has also admitted that his Job Retention Bonus scheme includes “deadweight” costs. Labour’s analysis puts the potential cost of handing this bonus to firms who would have retained staff anyway at £2.6bn.

In her speech, Ms Dodds will also criticise Mr Sunak for handing over public funds to support businesses with no strings attached.

In response to the publishing of the file, a Unite spokesperson told the Star: “Labour is absolutely right to shine a light on the cost to the country of the Tories’ approach to getting this virus under control.  

“The cronyism and chaos sickens voters. The funnelling of masses of public cash the way of their mates while at the same time talking of cuts to benefits to ‘pay’ for this crisis is just the same old Tories.  Not acting in the public interest and certainly not up to the job.”

In her speech, Ms Dodds will set out Labour’s three-step approach to a “more secure future” for Britain.

She will announce a Job Recovery Scheme to enable key sectors to bring back more staff on reduced hours with a proportion of remaining wages subsidised, a National Retraining Strategy for those out of work or seeking a new career, and a Business Rebuilding Programme to support struggling but viable firms ahead of Mr Sunak’s debt repayments cliff edge next year.

It comes as the new Labour leadership has been warned against “watering down” the “radical policies” Sir Keir Starmer had promised during his campaign to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.

The Fire Brigades Union told the BBC he must not “cede any ground” to the Conservatives and fight for “root-and-branch” reform of society.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack added that he had not “heard Keir make that case” since becoming Labour leader in April.

Labour’s four-day conference, which will not feature votes, began on Saturday and will end tomorrow with a speech by Mr Starmer.

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