Valerie asks a Question on Fraud

Figures released by HMRC in January stated that £5.8 billion was fraudulently taken from Government pandemic relief schemes such as furlough, self-employment support and business loans, and that the taskforce set up to recover the losses only expected to recover £1.5 billion of that. On 24 January 2022, the Government’s own Minister for counter-fraud in the House of Lords resigned due to the Government’s failure to tackle the issue. In his resignation speech, Lord Agnew said that the Treasury “appears to have no knowledge of, or little interest in, the consequences of fraud to our economy or society”, and the Government as a whole had displayed “arrogance, indolence and ignorance”.

At Treasury Questions on Tuesday 1 February 2022, the Chancellor appeared to suggest that there were no issues with the Government’s approach to fraud, saying in a response to the Shadow Chancellor that: “No one has written this off, we are going after it.”

I asked the Chancellor: “Going after money means the Chancellor is recovering a debt, so there is a hole in the finances. But could the Chancellor tell the House, why did Lord Agnew resign?”

Later on Tuesday, it was revealed that the Department for Health and Social Care spent £2.7 billion on PPE which could never be used by the NHS because it was not of a high enough standard. The Government appears to have completely lost control of British taxpayers’ money, money which could have been spent urgently on hospitals and schools.