Lord Agnew the former Minister of State for Efficiency and Transformation, quit the Government earlier this year due to the reluctance of Rishi Sunak’s Treasury to claw back money lost to fraud during the pandemic. He said “Billions of pounds of taxpayers’ hard-earned money had been dished out to companies who weren’t trading before the pandemic or who took funds for personal use. I seemed to be the only person in the Treasury who wanted to do anything about it.” He went on to say “A combination of arrogance, indolence, and ignorance within the Treasury led to a frankly lamentable response.”
Lord Agnew was supportive of the ideals of Covid support schemes such as the Furlough Scheme, but stated “There is a serious error of judgment on Rishi’s record. This is unfolding as an anticipated £4 billion of money lost to fraud through Covid bounce-back loans.” In February 2021 Lord Agnew asked Mr Sunak for more resources to counter fraud, but was turned down. One of the problems that Lord Agnew highlighted in his resignation speech was the fact that the Treasury seemed unaware that companies registered years earlier could be bought “off the shelf” for a few hundred quid.
The Covid bill was £376 billion and around £37 billion has been lost to fraud, waste or loss. Around £17 billion paid under the “Bounceback Loan Scheme” will never be paid and this includes £4 billion paid out to fraudsters and criminals. Another £4 billion paid out under “The Furlough Scheme”, and “Eat Out to Help Out” is expected to be lost to fraud. Lord Agnew is now supporting Liz Truss in her bid to become the UK’s next Prime Minister, he said “Under her premiership, we would not see the same wanton disregard for taxpayers’ money. She would give the Government’s efficiency agenda the backing needed. It is the huge prize that Rishi never bothered to collect.”