14 August 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Government set to recover just a third of the £1 billion it pledged to claw back from Covid fraudsters
  • IPPR Analysis: Energy bills threaten to plunge millions into poverty this winter

Government set to recover just a third of the £1 billion it pledged to claw back from Covid fraudsters

  • The Government promised to recover £1bn between April 2021 and April 2023, but with just £226 million collected in 2021-22 it is all but certain to break its pledge.
  • Fraudsters are now on track to get away with £8 of every £10 they stole with £3.7bn of taxpayers’ money written off.
  • Liberal Democrats call on Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to appoint a new fraud minister on day one to track down stolen taxpayers’ cash

The Government’s Covid fraud taskforce is on track to recover just a third of the £1 billion it pledged to claw back from fraudsters, new analysis of HMRC figures have revealed.

In 2021 Ministers set up the Taxpayer Protection Taskforce with the aim of recovering £1 billion of stolen funds related to its Covid support by the end of 2022-23. But new figures published by HMRC show the Government is lagging far behind this target.

They show the taskforce has recovered just £226 million so far in 2021-22, plus a mere £9 million in the first month of 2022-23. If it continues at this sluggish pace, the taskforce would bring back just £335 million by April 2023 – missing its target by two thirds, and allowing fraudsters to get away with another £665 million of stolen taxpayers’ money.

It means Covid scheme fraud is currently set to land taxpayers with a total £3.7 billion, with fraudsters keeping £8 of every £10 they stole. That money could fund the increase of nearly 2.3 million families’ energy bills as prices are set to rise again this October.

These figures cover fraud related to the Government’s HMRC administered Covid-19 support schemes: including the furlough scheme, Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS), and Eat Out to Help Out. They don’t include the billions of additional taxpayers money lost to fraud related to the Bounce Back Loan scheme, estimated by the Public Accounts Committee to be another £4.9 billion.

Conservative anti-fraud minister Lord Agnew resigned last January after describing the Government’s handling of Covid fraud as “desperately inadequate”. The position has remained vacant under the Johnson Government following his resignation, with the responsibilities for the role now falling under the remit of Cabinet Office Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Liberal Democrats have called on Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to own up to the massive waste of taxpayer money they presided over in Government, and to commit to appointing a dedicated fraud minister on day one, responsible for tracking down the remainder of the stolen money.

Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

The government has once again proven wholly inadequate in their efforts to recover the money lost to Covid fraud. As hard-working people up and down the country are struggling to make ends meet, the carelessness shown by ministers is shameful.

Both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have presided over a government that has gifted billions of pounds of taxpayer money to fraudsters. The candidates must commit to appointing a dedicated fraud minister on day one of their premiership, to recover this stolen cash.

In scandal after scandal, the Conservatives have shown that they are unable to clean up their own mess. Taxpayers should not be left to shoulder the burden of this Conservative government’s inadequacy.

IPPR Analysis: Energy bills threaten to plunge millions into poverty this winter

Responding to new analysis from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) which says capping energy prices could significantly reduce inflation, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

Soaring energy bills threaten to plunge millions into poverty this winter. It is a social catastrophe the likes of which we’ve not seen for decades, yet this out-of-touch Conservative government is failing to do anything to avoid it. It is a complete failure of leadership during this national crisis.

Whether it is Boris Johnson, Nadhim Zawahi, Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss, none of them have a plan to help people cope with these eye-watering energy price hikes.

People around the country will be rightly furious with the Conservatives for sitting on their hands instead of setting out a plan to solve this crisis.

Conservative ministers allowed billions to be wasted on Covid fraud and dodgy contracts for their crony mates during the pandemic. But now they can’t step up and help families and pensioners in their time of need.

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2 Comments

  • Helen Dudden 15th Aug '22 - 7:45am

    So many in the fast track lane that never provided what they were contracted to supply.

  • Helen, I must have imagined how, at the time, many of those who regularly supply PPE and ventilators to the NHS complained that their calls to increase production went unanswered whilst the likes of Dyson, Burberry, etc.,with no history of such work, were awarded hundreds of £millions in contracts..

    In Dec 2020 The New York Times reported, under the headline, “Waste, Negligence and Cronyism: Inside Britain’s Pandemic Spending”, how “Conservative Party grandee, Paul Deighton (Government PPE tsar) has helped the government award billions of dollars in contracts –– including hundreds of millions to several companies where he has financial interests or personal connections”, that ” Dozens of companies that won a total of $3.6 billion in contracts had poor credit, and several had declared assets of just $2 or $3 each”, that “Others had histories of fraud, human rights abuses, tax evasion or other serious controversies” and “A few were set up on the spur of the moment or had no relevant experience — and still won contracts.”

    Small wonder most of the taxpayer money seems to be untraceable..

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