Government has wasted £26.8bn under Sunak’s watch, says Labour
Rishi Sunak oversaw wasteful government spending and departmental losses that cost the taxpayer up to £26.8 billion, Labour has said.
The Opposition party compiled a dossier of the “extensive waste” under Mr Sunak during his time as Chancellor and as Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 2021-22 and 2019-20.
Mr Sunak “never lifted a finger to stop the money being thrown away” while he was in control of government spending, according to shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves.
The list includes examples of sums lost due to fraud and faulty personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic, through poorly-planned defence procurement and on private consultancy fees.
Up to £7.94 billion was wasted on overpriced, unsuitable and unused PPE, Labour said, citing Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) figures.
Sterile surgical gowns provided to DHSC by PPE Medpro under a £122 million contract were never used.
The firm is at the centre of a Westminster row after it was referred to ministers by Tory peer Baroness Michelle Mone.
Some £3.46 billion was wrongly paid out under the Covid furlough scheme, with another £2 billion squandered on fraudulent claims made under the Covid business grant and self-employment support schemes.
Losses attributed to the Ministry of Defence include the cost overrun by £1.07 billion on a new warhead facility and by £1.01 billion on the procurement of Astute nuclear-powered attack submarines.
Labour also criticised the use of external consultants by Whitehall departments, including a £3.9 million contract handed to Deloitte by the Home Office to handle small boats arrivals.
Ms Reeves said: “The British people deserve a government that will treat taxpayer money with respect.
“With our strong fiscal rules and our Office for Value for Money, Labour will root out waste and make our economy stronger.
“What all these 100 examples have in common is that – while the Labour Party, the Public Accounts Committee, the National Audit Office, and the media were able to expose and challenge much of the waste identified – the man whose job it was for three years to scrutinise this spending never lifted a finger to stop the money being thrown away, and in many cases, ignored direct warnings of the risks.
“Over those three years, billions of pounds that could have transformed Britain were instead handed over to fraudsters and crony contractors.
“This dossier is a badge of shame for the Prime Minister and his failing Tory government.”
Labour’s list also notes money lost on surplus Covid vaccines and £214 million spent on a later-scrapped contract to buy doses of French biotech company Valneva’s planned Covid vaccine.
In response to the dossier, Conservative Party chairman Greg Hands said: “The fact that Keir Starmer thinks that spending on the vaccine rollout – which would have faced deadly delays if we listened to his calls to join the EU’s vaccine scheme – is ‘waste’, just goes to show that Labour are unfit to govern.
“Labour lost £31 billion to fraud and error in their last year in government alone – significantly more than the numbers they’ve managed to inflate over three years for their latest dodgy dossier.”