Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many contracts his Department has issued without tendering since the start of the covid-19 outbreak; what the total value is of those contracts; how many of those contracts required advance payment of some or all of the costs; and in how many cases the supplier has failed to fulfil the contract.
As of 1 April 2021, award notices have been published for 1,151 contracts worth an estimated £19 billion by the Department in response to the pandemic for a wide range of products and services. The majority of these contracts have been let using a direct award. Contract Award Notices are published for each contract which contain information on the reasons for the selected procurement route, the value of the contract, its duration and the name of the supplier.
Advanced payments have been used on a number of personal protective equipment contracts. Each contract is different as some are payment on delivery and others have permitted a percentage of payment upfront. Our approach has been to take some managed risk in order to secure supplies in an exceptional and globally highly competitive market. Contracts have break clauses in them, meaning if the company supplies faulty products or misses delivery dates, we can cancel the contracts and reclaim the money.
Different commercial teams within the Department are responsible for manging these contracts in terms of negotiating with suppliers for refunds or other forms or redress against the supplier. This information is not currently collated and held centrally, consequently to provide a validated assessment of how many suppliers the Department has reclaimed money from would involve disproportionate cost.