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PAC criticises government for billions lost to error and fraud

PAC criticises government for billions lost to error and fraud

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has criticised the government for losing billions of taxpayers’ money to fraud and error in pandemic support.

The Department for Business and Trade (DBT) is ‘effectively writing off’ nearly £1 billion paid out erroneously by local authorities on its behalf in pandemic support. Meanwhile, of an estimated £2.2 billion lost to fraud and error in Covid-19 schemes, only about £10 million has so far been recovered.

The PAC’s report says the DBT continues to make slow progress on its counter fraud activities related to the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, and its ‘lack of curiosity’ about lenders’ performance increases the risk of losses for the taxpayer.

Despite accepting that grant payments made through councils to their local businesses under Covid-19 business support grant schemes were ‘not in line with how the scheme was meant to work’, the Business Department does not expect to recoup these funds. Of the estimated £985 million of grants paid out in error, only £5.3 million has been recovered.

Dame Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said:

‘At a time of financial crisis, the Department for Business has lost billions of taxpayers’ desperately needed funds. It shows no real signs of making the improvements that would prevent the big mistakes it has made over many years, especially during the pandemic, happening all over again.’

Internet link: Parliament website

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