Conservative minister resigns in anger over Covid fraud

A Conservative minister in the House of Lords has resigned attacking the government’s handling of fraudulent Covid business loans.

Lord Agnew of Oulton accused the Treasury of having “no interest in the consequences of fraud to our society”. Lord Agnew said his departure was “not an attack on the prime minister”.

The minister with responsibility for cross-government efficiency said “a combination of arrogance, indolence and ignorance” was “freezing the government machine”.

“I hope that as a virtually unknown minister beyond this place giving up my career might prompt other to get behind this and sort it out,” he said.

In a dramatic moment in the House of Lords, the Treasury minister read out his resignation speech in response to a question about loans.

He concluded with a “thank you and goodbye” before departing the chamber to a round of applause - a rare occurrence in the parliamentary chamber.

Attacks on BJ’s government are coming from all quarters … :exclamation:

Because Labour would have done a much better job

Said nobody

Ever …


But I don’t see how it can be right to let this Government get away with allowing fraud based on what you think a hypothetical Labour government might have done?

It’s like me murdering the old man and saying I should be let off because if he’d married Linda, who was also after him, she’d have murdered him too!

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If we stopped to vet and process each application with much scrutiny, most businesses would have gone to the wall by the time they received their money.

It’s a question of priorities and dealing with the emergency. The country was in a real crisis in the pandemic, and sure some people took advantage, but over time, they will be dealt with.

We shouldn’t avoid helping the majority of honest cases while trying to scrutinise the few dishonest ones.

I think they were far too keen to hand out free money because it let them ride on the wake of good will and look like heros. They did exactly the same with the furlough scheme

I don’t have your faith that the fraudsters will be tracked down, I think they’ll just sweep it under the carpet and a lot of the handouts were down to chumocracy anyway

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Here we go again, party political stuff, just comes down to who had the most parties.

Yeah considering whets going on with Ukraine the media only care about birthday cake.

What is interesting on the Birthday front is, remember when we were being told of the duration and how to wash our hands, we had to sing “Happy Birthday” twice!!
Think someone is taking the piss. :laughing:

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£3 Billion is a huge amount of money, people are being sanctioned for being £20 in debt.

The Ukraine has naff all to do with this.


Its a question of priorities. On one hand we have the possibility of an invasion by Russia and on the other, the media outrage over 3 billion of fraudulent covid claims and birthday cake.

There needs to be priorities here.

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The government last week disputed reports it had written off £4.3bn of loans.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour MP Kate Osamor asked if the prime minister had agreed to the chancellor “writing off £4.3 billion of fraud”.

“That’s £154 for every household in the country that went directly into the pockets of fraudsters,” she added.

In response, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “No, of course not. We do not support fraudsters or those who steal from the public purse.”

The prime minister’s official spokesman later clarified that Mr Johnson meant he did not condone fraud.

Later, in a Twitter thread, Mr Sunak said people were “absolutely right to be” concerned about fraudulently obtained funds. “No, I’m not ignoring it, and I’m definitely not ‘writing it off’,” Mr Sunak wrote.

He said the government had invested more than £100m in an anti-fraud taskforce with 1,265 staff. He said 3,000 one-to-one enquiries were opened in 2020/21 and HMRC wrote to 75,000 people.

Last year, the government stopped or recovered nearly £2.2bn in potential fraud from Bounce Back Loans and £743m of overclaimed furlough grants, Mr Sunak said.

He said businesses were “on the brink of collapse” and “needed support quickly” when assistance schemes were rolled out.

In recent days, Mr Sunak has come under increasing pressure to claw back Covid support lost to fraud.

Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the scale of Covid funds lost to fraud should be a “source of enduring shame to the Chancellor”.

I wonder what the NAO have got on this waste of public funds … :question: