IT’S only weeks since I last wrote to this paper about central government confusion over provision of free school meals for needy children in the national lockdown, only for the shortfall eventually to be covered in the nick of time, by the kindness of local volunteers.

Anyhow, as if this wasn’t bad enough, the same kind of ‘Covid-profiteering’ is now being uncovered by national watchdog group The Good Law Project, with regard to the supply of free school laptops to vulnerable families so that children can study online at home during lockdown.

This time it’s Computacenter, a large tech company which has been sending out inferior devices, some of them even front-loaded with a malware virus and not conforming to specifications set down by the Department of Education itself.

Computacenter is also well-known as being a generous donor to Conservative Party funds, and the question urgently needs asking: were they were actually the best company for the job?

Many of us would say ‘no’, given that they have been charging HM Government as much as twice the price on the open market for similar IT devices!

It is also alleged that some government procurement documents have been redacted in places, so as not to show the exact figures for monies changing hands.

Meanwhile - as with the recent free school meals issues - the outstanding generosity of local communities, such as ours here in Somerset, has stepped up, with volunteers donating unwanted laptops and tablets, while other tech experts are giving-up their time to refit/update these devices which are given away free.

All of which means that children from vulnerable families are less likely to fall behind in their studies during the pandemic.

To find out more of the local voluntary scheme mentioned above, there is information on these Facebook pages.

Jolyon Maugham QC’s Good Law Project also has its own website here