Rich Pickings

5 Tips from the Government for making money during a pandemic

By Nathaniel Tapley

But over the summer the papers were plastered with pictures of the Chancellor carting lukewarm paninis around to convince us all to Eat Out To Help Out. That policy ended up being directly responsible for between 8% and 15% of all new COVID infections in August. It’s as if Christopher Columbus had insisted on having his face stitched on every smallpox blanket in the New World, which seems unwise in retrospect. 

Now Rishi has disappeared and the headlines are just filled with big, friendly text portending doom. So we look to the Prime Minister, who shambles out of his lair like a hungover Honey Monster, to give us the bad news. The Ghost of Shitmas Yet To Come. 

People used to call the Prime Minister a Wodehousian figure, and not just because they were both happy to write propaganda for rightwing lunatics. Now, however, the ebullience is gone, and instead of fizzing rhetoric we get a noise like a lonely wind passing through a haunted haybale. He can barely lift his huge, hoary head and, with the grace of a Highland cow preserved by a blind taxidermist, mutters “Tell ‘em about the money, Rishi,” before lolloping back into his cave. 

This time it’s going to be worse. It’s not the jolly lockdown of the spring, when everyone was sustained by sourdough, weekly clapping, and hopes for a functioning test-and-trace system. 

For many, lockdown will be a time of straightened financial circumstances. In this, as in all things, it’s worth looking to the Government for help. After all, they’ve given out 843 pandemic-related contracts without putting them to competitive tender. So, what can you do? 

1 – Become an exterminator 

This might seem a bit on the nose as a worldwide plague wipes out a significant chunk of the human race, but it didn’t do Littlehampton-based vermin-squashers PestFix any harm, as they got £32 million from the government to provide 

isolation suits. 

“But I don’t own any isolation suits!” Don’t worry, neither did they! With only £18,000 worth of assets and no track record of providing medical equipment, PestFix are the cat that got the cream. And, like a cat, may be better at killing mice than providing healthcare equipment. 

The founder of the company said that they had very good connections in the supply chain. Many of us have very good connections in the supply chain, of course, as the eventual destination of the things that are supplied. 

2 – Live in Sevenoaks 

That way you can make a living running a non-existent testing centre, like the one the Government currently tells people to go to that absolutely doesn’t exist. 

“But doesn’t Sevenoaks already have a non-existent test centre?” Yes, but that just shows there’s demand for non-existent test centres in Sevenoaks. 

3 – Sell sherbert 

That’s all confectionery wholesaler Clandeboye Agencies had to do before landing a sweet government contract to provide PPE worth more than £100 million. Now that’s a lot of lolly! 

4 – Don’t do contact tracing 

Have you ever thought of getting into the high-powered world of not doing contact tracing? Serco got £401 million from the government by not doing the amount of contact tracing they said they’d do. Fortunately there’s no penalty clause in their contract, and no reason to assume there would be one in yours! 

Got a bad track record? So does Serco! Just last year they were fined £23 million by the Serious Fraud Office for fraud and false accounting. 

5 – Be Dido Harding 

As head of TalkTalk, Dido Harding oversaw the biggest data loss in British history, with details of 150,000 of her customers making their way into the hands of scammers. Unwilling to let catastrophic data loss be the worst thing on her CV, she has spent the last six months overseeing spending of £12 billion on a test-and-trace system that neither tests nor traces. 

“But surely I’d get caught if I just waste millions of pounds of the Government’s money?” Perhaps. The Government does, after all, have an Anti-Corruption Champion: John Penrose, MP for Weston-Super-Mare, and husband of Dido Harding. 

The story of how they met is quite beautiful. They were both consultants at McKinsey and their eyes met across a crowded downsizing. Incidentally, McKinsey just got the contract to advise on the “vision” of the National Institute of Health Protection, an organisation set up to replace Public Health England, and headed by *checks notes* Dido Harding. 

So, relax. As you can see, the second lock down throws up challenges, but there’s no reason that it shouldn’t be a deeply rewarding time for you and your family. Provided that you and your family have close links to the Conservative Party. 


Nathaniel Tapley is a comedy writer and performer on those television shows you hate. (Photo: Idil Sukan) 


 

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