Uniserve logistics has received almost £800m in Covid-19 related contracts without a tender according to The Guardian.
The paper revealed that the contracts given by the government were handed directly to Uniserve without a chance for other suppliers to bid, as under the Covid-19 emergency regulations, the need for competitive tenders could be bypassed.
Previously this year in March, the logistics group was reportedly awarded a 12-month contract worth £473m to distribute and supply PPE and various medical equipment to the UK.
Liz David-Barrett, a professor of governance and integrity at the University of Sussex, told the paper: “The purpose of a competitive process is to secure the best service at the best price and for the public, and other suppliers, to have confidence in it.
“Even in emergency conditions the government could run a streamlined competitive process, and an emergency should be for a short period. To let a really long contract under emergency provisions seems an abuse of the procedure, and puts public confidence at risk.”
The paper also revealed Uniserve received an additional contract from the government worth £304m without a tender, despite the company offering limited expertise in the area.
Iain Liddell, managing director of Uniserve, told The Guardian: “The DHSC came to the right people as there are very few if any other companies that could have reacted so quickly with the only intention of getting urgently required PPE to the frontline.
“Uniserve was driven by the national interest in getting PPE to the UK as quickly as possible. The Chinese PPE market was brutal with Europe, USA and China buying most of the PPE and gazumping most other nations.”
He added: “We did well under these extreme circumstances to secure production and deliver urgent PPE, all costs went through the DHSC process for approval.”