UK coronavirus live: ‘astonishing’ failure by government meant economic plans drawn up ‘on the hoof’, say MPs

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Sturgeon tells Johnson his visit to Scotland highlights case for independence

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Agenda for the day

Good morning. I’m Andrew Sparrow, taking over from Caroline Davies.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: The ONS publishes figures on the economic impact of coronavirus.

Morning: The Department of Health and Social Care is due to publish its latest test and trace figures.

12.15pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, is giving her regular coronavirus briefing.

And, of course, Boris Johnson is visiting Scotland today. We don’t know much about the timings of his trip, but he is expected to visit an RAF base in the north of Scotland.

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‘Astonishing’ failure by government meant economic plans drawn up ‘on the hoof’, say MPs

There was an “astonishing” failure by government to plan for the economic impact of a possible flu-like pandemic, parliament’s financial watchdog has said.

MPs on the cross-party public accounts committee concluded that government schemes were drawn up “on the hoof” in mid-March by Rishi Sunak’s Treasury, weeks after the first case of coronavirus was detected in the UK. The delay risked leaving sectors of the UK economy behind, according to a report published on Thursday.

MPs questioned why there was no economic equivalent to Exercise Cygnus, the 2016 simulation of an international flu outbreak that involved 950 emergency planning officials.

Key government ministries such as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy [BEIS] were not made aware that Cygnus had taken place and so had little idea of the possible impact of a major outbreak, the report said.

Meg Hillier, the chair of the committee, said members were shocked to discover from senior civil servants that pandemic planning had been treated solely as a health issue, with no planning for the economic impact.

“The economic strategy was of necessity rushed and reactive, initially a one-size-fits-all response that’s leaving people – and whole sectors of the economy – behind,” she said. “A competent government does not run a country on the hoof, and it will not steer us through this global health and economic crisis that way.

You can read the Guardian’s report here

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