Cleanzine: your weekly cleaning and hygiene industry newsletter 16th March 2023 Issue no. 1056
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Over my 30 years in the cleaning industry I've seen the ISSA grow considerably, but never has it grown so much in my opinion as it did when it decided to hold the US Government to account over money wasted on PPE which was supposed to be used in fighting the pandemic. I ran the news on this last week, but couldn’t let the ISSA’s initiative pass for long without recording my admiration for the decision made to work with the PPE Fraud Coalition to challenge the apparent acquiescence to the widely-documented and unfathomable procurement failures. A joint letter from the two describes how demand for PPE during the pandemic created opportunities for ‘deceptive’ contracts between US businesses and foreign PPE suppliers that were either unfulfilled or which delivered counterfeit, substandard, or soiled products. Now where have I heard that before? The two bodies are hoping to prevent future fraudulent transactions and recover the $100-plus million lost or held up overseas. That’s a huge amount of money, yet it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the £8.7 billion spent on pandemic PPE and written off by the UK Government. The 2020/21 accounts say some £673 million worth of equipment was found to be unusable, while £750 million was spent on items not used before their expiry date which had to be dumped.
It must be almost 18 months ago that I first learned that some of the pandemic PPE designed for use in the UK was unfit for purpose, but never in my wildest dreams would I have figured that the money wasted would amount to £8.7 billion! We vote in our representatives to do just that – to represent us and take care of things. I’m sure we’re all used to feeling let down but the money wasted on unusable or undelivered PPE amounts to a gross mismanagement of public funds. I’m talking about two countries here. I wonder how much has been wasted globally and just who has profited from our losses?
The ISSA/PPEFC letter requests an investigation into the impacts of PPE fraud, help to identify and prosecute those involved, and assistance with recovering lost funds. I reckon the UK cleaning industry would do well to follow suit. We’re all well aware of companies with no background in PPE manufacture being awarded huge contracts to supply PPE. Like the ISSA and PPEFC, I’d like to find out who’s responsible and hold them to account.
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10th February 2022