Lies, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations from Boris Johnson to Rishi Sunak

‎”We are actually putting more resources in throughout this year to tackle fraud and error, and we continue to make real progress with it”

Oliver Dowden, Deputy PM, Prime Minister’s Questions

Facts

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Oliver Dowden claimed that the government was making “real progress” with tackling fraud and error. 

A report published by the Commons’ Public Accounts Committee on 6 July 2023 found that Government fraud has almost quadrupled under Rishi Sunak from £5.5 billion to £21 billion.

The report compares the two years before the 2020 pandemic under Theresa May’s Government with the two years that followed when Rishi Sunak was Chancellor under Boris Johnson. 

HM Revenue and Customs, which was the direct responsibility of Sunak, contributed significantly to the rise in fraud after Sunak, as Chancellor at the time, approved £97 billion to be spent on the pandemic furlough scheme, the bounce back loan scheme, and his ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme.

The report states: “HMRC estimates that total fraud and error across the lifetime of these schemes was £4.5 billion, although its estimate is highly uncertain.” It went on to add that “HMRC is forecasting that it will recover only a quarter of the losses”

Verdict

The phrase “continue to make progress” suggests the government has had a degree of success in tackling fraud. This is disputed by the Public Accounts Committee report of 6 July 2023. 

We emailed Oliver Dowden’s parliamentary office and the Cabinet Office offering him the chance to respond. The email to his parliamentary office was received, but no reply. 

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