A news item that seldom makes headlines but affects all households is the long-awaited Covid investigation by Parliament into how our government spent tax-payers’ money in handling the pandemic. Slow progress is hindered by government ministers struggling to be interviewed and civil servants not supplying information to the inquiry. Not doing so is an attack on the transparency and accountability of spending.

We know that £37,000,000,000 was spent on Test & Trace with over 50 companies with close links with the Tory party awarded contracts using a VIP route which avoided public competitive tendering. The opaque process smacks of cronyism and mismanagement.

Lucrative contracts for PPE for the NHS were also awarded through this process and declared unlawful by the High Court in January. The British Medical Journal recently said that 75 per cent of the £12,000,000,000 spent on PPE did not meet NHS standards and needs to be disposed of as useless.

So, on Test & Trace and PPE alone (and not including other questionable spending), a total of £49,000,000,000 was spent, much of it unlawfully, without transparency and accountability. That is £1750 per household in England. This would go a long way to pay for increases in household fuel bills. It would go even further in feeding our children at school. Whereas all primary-school pupils in Wales and Scotland have free school meals, in England it is only infant children. And England has increased the money for these meals by only seven pence each (a three per cent rise), whereas food inflation is 10 per cent. So English children‘s meals will be less nutritious from September. Compare this frugal regard for our children with the largesse shown to their cronies.

Careless, wasteful spending of our money by government needs to be investigated by Parliament. Do we really live in a country where the courts have to be involved to achieve transparency and accountability? Regardless of who is prime minister, the Tory omnishambles continues.

Michael Heylings, Mitcheldean