The government response to the coronavirus pandemic is on track to cost the public purse £210bn for the first six months of the crisis, Whitehall’s spending watchdog has said.
Reflecting the scale of the emergency since March, the National Audit Office (NAO) said ministers had instigated more than 190 measures in response to the crisis so far, including emergency job support, additional NHS funding, and business grants.
Equivalent to almost a quarter of the government’s annual budget for running the public sector, making welfare payments and investing in infrastructure, the £210bn sum, the NAO said, was the office’s latest cost-estimate of the government response.
The analysis covers spending promises made by ministers up to 7 August, indicating that the final costs of the Covid-19 crisis for the public purse could be much higher. The NAO had previously estimated a price tag of more than £120bn for the period up to 4 May.