Covid inquiry: Lessons must be learnt from £300 million inquiry bill, says TaxPayers’ Alliance

Embargoed: 00:01 Monday 26 October 2020 

The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) has recommended new measures to underpin a future coronavirus inquiry, to avoid repeating the mistakes of previous public inquiries. The campaign group found that government departments spent over £300 million on public inquiries in the last five years, with investigations lasting several years and producing mixed results.

Analysis showed the Home Office spent the most on public inquiries, with a total of £192,675,737 over the period. The most expensive inquiry across all departments was the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) at almost £150,000,000.

Public inquiries are not only costly but often overrun, with three of the eight ongoing inquiries running for more than five years. This includes the controversial IICSA, which has overrun by at least one year.

The TPA report emphasises the benefits of faster and more cost-effective public inquests, and calls for politicians to stop using long inquiries to dodge blame or difficult decisions. This highlights the need for the forthcoming covid inquiry to be as swift and decisive as possible in order to best prepare for any future pandemic.

Click here to read the research paper and full dataset

Key Findings:

  • Three government departments spent a total of £300,534,887 on public inquiries.

  • The Home Office spent £192,675,737 alone over the five-year period.

  • The government currently has eight ongoing public inquiries. Three of these have been running for more than five years.

  • The inquiry that spent the largest amount was the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, spending £143,505,910. The inquiry is now overrunning by at least a year.

  • The three ongoing public inquiries which have been running for over five years have each cost over £14 million.

Click here to read the research paper and full dataset


John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:

"Given the likelihood of a future investigation into the covid crisis, taxpayers will be concerned by the immense price tag and terrible overruns of past public inquiries.

“All too often politicians dodge the blame and kick difficult decisions into the long grass with slow and costly inquiries - we cannot allow this to happen with coronavirus. 

“Lessons must be learnt from previous inquiries to ensure the covid investigation is as efficient, swift and decisive as possible.” 


TPA spokesmen are available for live and pre-recorded broadcast interviews via 07795 084 113 (no texts)


Danielle Boxall
Media Campaign Manager, TaxPayers' Alliance
[email protected]
24-hour media hotline: 07795 084 113 (no texts)

Notes to editors:

  1. Founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum, the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) campaigns to reform taxes and public services, cut waste and speak up for British taxpayers. Find out more at

  2. TaxPayers' Alliance's advisory council.

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