UK COVID-19 Inquiry response costs for Quarter 4 23/24

Cabinet Office written statement – made at on 14 May 2024.

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Photo of Baroness Neville-Rolfe Baroness Neville-Rolfe Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government acted to save lives and livelihoods, prevent the NHS being overwhelmed, and deliver a world-leading vaccine rollout which protected the nation. In establishing the UK COVID-19 Inquiry, the Government recognised the unprecedented and wholly exceptional circumstances of the pandemic, and the importance of examining as rigorously as possible the actions the state took in response, in order to learn lessons for the future.

As such, the Inquiry is unprecedented in its scope, complexity and profile, looking at recent events that have profoundly impacted everyone’s lives.

The Government remains fully committed to transparency throughout this process. The UK COVID-19 Inquiry publishes its own running costs quarterly; the most recent update, covering costs for Quarter 4 of the 2023/2024 financial year, was published on 9 May. The Government’s response to the Inquiry is a significant undertaking and accordingly, the Government has updated Parliament on the UK Government costs associated with responding to the UK COVID-19 Inquiry.

Ensuring a comprehensive and timely response to the Inquiry requires significant input from a number of key government departments, including the Cabinet Office, the Department for Health and Social Care, the UK Health Security Agency, the Home Office and HM Treasury, many of which are supported by the Government Legal Department (GLD).

Figures provided are based upon a sample of departmental costs, and are not precise figures for accounting purposes. While every effort has been made to ensure a robust methodology, complexities remain in trying to quantify the time and costs dedicated to the Inquiry alone.

It should be noted that alongside full time resource within departments, Inquiry response teams draw on expertise from across their organisations. The Senior Civil Servant staff costs associated with appearing as witnesses, preparing witnesses and associated policy development work on the Covid Inquiry are significant. Those costs are not included in the costs below.

Breakdown of Staff & Costs

The Government’s response to the UK COVID-19 Inquiry is led by Inquiry Response Units across departments.

  • Number of UK COVID-19 Inquiry Response Unit staff: 265 Full Time Equivalents (Q4)

  • Cost of UK COVID-19 Inquiry Response Unit staff: £5,100,000 (including contingent labour costs) (Q4)

  • Financial year 2023/24, total cost of UK COVID-19 Inquiry Response Unit staff: £18,000,000 (including contingent labour costs)

Quarter 1-3

Quarter 4

Cumulative Total

Cost of UK COVID-19 Inquiry Response Unit staff (including contingent labour costs)

£12,900,000

£5,100,000

£18,000,000

Number of UK COVID-19 Inquiry Response Unit staff (Full Time Equivalents)

249

265

Total Inquiry Response Unit Legal Costs

Inquiry response units across government departments are supported by the Government Legal Department, co-partnering firms of solicitors, and legal counsel. These associated legal costs (excluding internal departmental advisory legal costs) for January - March 2024 are below.

  • Total legal costs: £5,300,000 (as of Q4)

  • Financial year 2023/24, total legal costs: £26,200,000

Quarter 1-3

Quarter 4

Cumulative Total

Total legal costs

£20,900,000

£5,300,000

£26,200,000