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Glenrothes & Central Fife MP Peter Grant has said he is astonished by the UK Government’s failure to plan for the economic impacts of a major pandemic.

Mr Grant was commenting on a Public Accounts Committee report which found that, despite the UK Government undertaking a large-scale pandemic simulation exercise in 2016, they didn’t start to design economic and financial support packages until a few days before lockdown was announced in March 2020.

The report also criticised the lack of proper co-ordination across UK Government departments which meant, for example, that there was detailed planning for the impact on the NHS but little or no planning for the Social Care sector.

Mr Grant, who helped to prepare the report as a member of the Committee, said the UK Government urgently needs to learn the lessons from its response to the COVID-19 pandemic so far, and to make sure it doesn’t make the same mistakes again in the event of a second spike in infections.

Mr Grant said:

“For well over ten years, successive UK Governments have regarded a global pandemic as one of the biggest risks we face, second only to large scale attacks by terrorists or other hostile forces. They knew it was only a matter of time until something like coronavirus reached us.

“It’s true that since March the UK Government has committed well over a hundred billion pounds to deal with this pandemic, plunging the UK into unprecedented levels of debt in the process, but too much of this has been thrown together at the last minute and as a result there have been huge gaps in their response.

“For example, the UK Government insists that their central supplies service never ran out of PPE but they often failed to make sure this equipment got to where it was needed.

“And while millions of people and a great many businesses got financial support, far too many were left out. People who had set up their own business in the last couple of years, anyone who happened to change jobs at the wrong time, or owners of small businesses who paid themselves a share of the annual profits rather than a fixed salary, got little or no help. The Government could and should have had plans in place to support them long before lockdown was announced.

“This report has been produced by a cross party committee of MPs based on evidence given in public by the Government’s own top civil servants. The Government has got to listen, it’s got to admit to its mistakes, and it’s got to make sure it gets things right if there’s a second wave of infections."

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