The swift establishment of schemes such as furlough and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) by Chancellor Rishi Sunak helped keep individuals and businesses afloat when they needed it most. Our country would have suffered to a far greater deal were it not for the deft execution of these measures.
However it remains equally true that one area of the Government’s emergency economic schemes has been far less successful. The Bounceback Loan Scheme, set up to support small businesses, has exposed the taxpayer to huge losses. Some £17bn is already expected to be lost, £4.9bn of which is now widely understood to be due to fraud.
As if this was not troubling enough, the measures taken by ministers to recover these monies has been so weak as the have led a Public Accounts Committee to accuse them of being “complacent in preventing fraud”. In a report published today it accuses the ministers of having “no long-term plans for recovering overdue debt”.
The sums lost could have been far better spent on improving infrastructure and public services, reducing taxes or to reduce government borrowing.
Instead it seems that with a casual shrug of the shoulders the Government is writing this money off, handing criminals a massive financial windfall and leaving hard-pressed taxpayers, suffering under the yolk of the cost of living crisis, on the losing side.