Contract for school laptops awarded to Conservative Party donor's firm
The co-founder's wife donated £100,000 to the Tories ahead of the 2019 General Election
A contract to provide school laptops has been awarded to a wealthy Conservative Party donor, according to reports. The contracts amount to almost £100 million.
With the closing of schools across the UK due to the coronavirus crisis, online learning has become essential - but there is a shortage of school laptops. In order to provide sufficient supplies, the government have awarded a number of contracts to companies in the field. Some of these have questionable ties to the Tories.
According to the report published in the Byline Times, "contracts worth almost £100 million for the provision of school technology equipment" were awarded to IT company Computacenter.
Computacenter does have extensive experience in the field, though the people behind the business are alleged to have ties to the Tory Party.
The company's co-founder Sir Philip Hulme has made donations to ex-MP Nick Herbert. Hulme's wife Janet also donated a whopping £100,000 to the Conservatives ahead of the 2019 General Election.
In early December, the Byline Times report states that: "the Government released details of two contracts awarded to Computacenter for the provision of 59,900 devices, worth a total of £12.4 million. These devices were required to be delivered to the Department for Education (DfE) by 13 November".
The current Conservative administration has faced repeated criticism over its alleged nepotism, and the awarding of contracts to those with ties to the Tories.
In an email to JOE, the Department of Education insisted that proper competitive procedures were followed, and that the "decision to contract with the chosen firm was taken following a competition under crown commercial services framework".
Any allegations of favouritism, the department said, were "fundamentally untrue".
Outside of the school laptop debate, this week the government reintroduced food vouchers - after a furious backlash online.
Twitter user @RoadsideMum shared images of the free school meal package she received - with which she is expected to feed her family for 10 days. She estimated the total cost to amount to £5.22 - when it should have amounted to £30 in value.
#FreeSchoolMeals bag for 10 days:
2 days jacket potato with beans
8 single cheese sandwiches
2 days carrots
3 days apples
2 days soreen
3 days frubes
Spare pasta & tomato. Will need mayo for pasta salad.
Issued instead of £30 vouchers. I could do more with £30 to be honest. pic.twitter.com/87LGUTHXEu
— Roadside Mum 🐯 (@RoadsideMum) January 11, 2021
The company responsible for these food packages, Chartwells UK, is a subsidiary of the Compass Group. Paul Walsh, who was chairman of Compass Group until last month, is a Conservative Party donor according to data released by the Electoral Commission.
An investigation by the New York Times also uncovered similar in the government's awarding of equipment contracts in the fight against coronavirus.
This report discovered that firms with no prior experience were awarded £4.5 billion worth of Covid-19 contracts.
- Well-known financial services firm Deloitte were consulted on PPE matters, in a brief that was not offered to any other company. They have made 'non-cash donations' to the Conservatives in the past
- Randox Laboratories were awarded around £475 million to manufacture Covid-19 test kits. Owen Paterson, the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, a Tory government minister, is a paid consultant for the firm
- On July 15th 2020, the NHS had to recall a number of Randox COVID-19 test kits due to safety concerns - but have now said they are safe
- Uniserve Group were also paid £736,000 to manufacture PPE. Its founder is a consultant with ties to two 'prominent government ministers'
- Health secretary Matt Hancock has previously been quizzed over the decision to award the former landlord of his local pub tens of millions of pounds to make COVID-19 test kits