The business support arrangements implemented by the Government during the course of the pandemic really did highlight the chaotic manner in which Boris Johnson’s team operate. Whilst we all appreciate the unprecedented nature of the situation and that inevitably the roll out of support would highlight flaws an loopholes there were simply too many errors made – with businesses decimated by the suspension of activity ineligible by accident of, for example where a business might have business rates rolled up into rental and therefore ineligible for mainstream grants – whilst research shows that firms were established across the country immediately at the point of grants being announced – with the express aim of obtaining funds that were not needed. I heard so many cases of struggling businesses in Blackburn it really was heart-breaking.
Today energy bills are rising, groceries bills are rising and National Insurance tax is hiking up soon – the cost of living is increasing and on average, households will be £1200 worse off after this.
While increasing the daily costs of living for everyday people, it was revealed in a publication last week, that HMRC only expect to recover 25% of a total £5.8bn paid out due to fraud and error in relation to the coronavirus support schemes.
It’s been reported that one emergency loan for £4.1 million went to a firm founded just two days before it received the fund, as well as this, HMRC estimates that £71 million of taxpayer’s money was fraudulently claimed through the Eat out to Help out scheme. A full and proper enquiry is needed in order to fully understand the scale of this problem, and to understand why billions of pounds were able to be fraudulently claimed.
In the March 2021 budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the creation of a 100m ‘Taxpayer Protection Taxforce’ to deal with fraud and error Coronavirus support schemes which was to be staffed by 1,265 HMRC operatives. It’s believed these staff were likely to have just been moved from other departments. Three Quarters of the Coronavirus support claimed in fraud and error won’t be collected, that’s between £1.3bn and £1.5bn lost – this is outrageous – and far more than well publicised benefit fraud cases.
How can you trust the Conservatives with the British taxpayer’s money when the Chancellor allowed billions of pounds to be fraudulently claimed, and then sneak out the announcement in a ‘myth busting’ to try and hide this Government’s failure over the fact billions of pounds have been lost?
The public are paying for this mishandling. The list of mishandling goes on and on. In time the Tory Government will need to be held accountable for the shambolic way it has managed the pandemic. And remember – the vaccine roll out was a success thanks to our NHS – not the Government.