Johnson claims government will provide more localised breakdowns
Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/PA Images
Prime minister Boris Johnson has pledged that the government will increase the amount of information it publishes on the rollout of the coronavirus.
Appearing before parliament’s Liaison Committee on Wednesday of last week, the PM responded to criticism that the figures showing how many people have so far been immunised to date are not detailed enough to enable scrutiny of the programme,.
Johnson said the government would begin publishing regional breakdowns of vaccination numbers “later this week”.
“We want to be as transparent as we possibly can about the number of vaccinations delivered,” he added.
But despite saying he wanted to release “as much data as we can”, Johnson did not commit to releasing local authority-level figures, or data on how much of the vaccine has been wasted. He did cite the potential for waste as one reason for not using community pharmacies to administer the vaccine at this point while supply is constrained.
The prime minister faced a range of other questions related to the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Universal Credit payments were increased last year to reflect the additional hardship many people were facing amid the pandemic, but the extra funds will be cut in April unless the chancellor decides otherwise in his springtime Budget.
Asked whether it was fair to make people wait until March to find out if their benefits would be cut a month later, Johnson said: “I think that what we want to see is jobs. We want to see people in employment, we want to see the economy bouncing back and most people in this country would rather see a focus on jobs and growth in wages than a focus on welfare, but clearly we have to keep all these things under review.”
Responding to a question about rising food bank use during the pandemic, he said “in an ideal world, people would be able to have absolute confidence in getting what they need from their weekly shop”.
“That’s why we’re focusing so much on things like the living wage, increasing pay wherever we can [including] increases in pay for a million key workers this year and doing everything that we can for the poorest and neediest,” he said.