MPs ‘astonished’ at Government’s failure to plan for economic impact of coronavirus pandemic

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THE Government’s failure to plan for the economic impact of a pandemic has been branded “astonishing” in an MPs’ report.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee said the reaction to Covid-19 was rushed and has left whole sectors behind.

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And the lack of preparedness could have a “long-term” impact on the economy, it claimed.

The Treasury is said to have waited until mid-March, days before lockdown, before deciding on economic support plans.

The report also stated: “It will be a huge task to ensure lengthy school closures do not have long-term or irreversible effects on children’s health and education.”

The committee urged the Government to “learn lessons” from its response and “ensure it doesn’t repeat its mistakes in the event of a second spike”.

It added: “We are astonished by the Government’s failure to consider in advance how it might deal with economic impacts of a pandemic.”

Meg Hillier, Labour chair of the committee, said: “Pandemic planning was treated as a health issue with no planning for economic impacts.”

The report was also highly critical of how the issue of personal protective equipment (PPE) was handled.

The study said: “There were fundamental flaws in the Government’s central procurement and local distribution of vital goods and equipment.

“The Department of Health and Social Care was not focused enough on the challenge of how to identify need in the care sector and ensure supply of PPE.”

The report also called for greater involvement with businesses regarding their needs.

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