They don’t seem to care! Angela Rayner erupts at ‘criminal waste’ of taxpayers’ money

Rishi Sunak grilled on ‘more constructive ways to help’

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Last week, figures released by HMRC found £5.8billion was stolen from pandemic relief schemes such as furlough and self-employment support by people claiming cash they were not entitled to.

A special taskforce recovered £500million last year and is expecting to recover an additional £1billion from scammers.

This means the Treasury only expects to write off £4.3billion – or £1 of every £4 taken – by fraudsters, the Mirror reported.

Now, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, Angela Rayner, has lashed out at the Government.

Ms Rayner tweeted a video from December where Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rachel Reeves, said allowing fraudsters to take billions of public money was a “criminal waste” of taxpayers’ money.

In her own tweet, Ms Rayner branded the Government as incompetent.

She tweeted: “Imagine how helpful the billions £ that has been taken by fraudsters could help those in fuel poverty now.

“This Conservative Government are totally incompetent.

“Even worse, they don’t seem to care.”

When the news broke, Ms Reeves said the confessions from the Treasury were “outrageous” and accused Mr Sunak of shrugging his shoulders.

Ms Reeves told the Mirror: “These confessions are outrageous.

“While prices soar, billions in hard-earned taxpayer cash has been frittered away by fraud – and the Chancellor is happy to shrug his shoulders and lose it forever.

“It shouldn’t be beyond the wit of Government to get money where it needs to go, without allowing fraudsters to steal taxpayer funds.

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“Leaving the till open and unattended for thieves to clear out would be a sackable offence for a shopworker, yet apparently it is acceptable for a Chancellor.”

And Shadow Business Minister Bill Esterson tweeted: “You can bet this Government wouldn’t be so casual if it was benefit claims.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We introduced these unprecedented Covid support schemes at speed to protect jobs and livelihoods.

“The result of the action is our economy is back to pre-pandemic levels, we are the first major European economy to report that.”

He added: “Obviously fraud is unacceptable and we’re taking against those who abuse the system – 150,000 ineligible claims blocked, £500million recovered last year, HMRC taskforce is expected to recover an additional £1billion of taxpayers’ money.”

HMRC boss Jim Harra admitted last year that all the money would likely never be returned.

He told the Financial Times: “We will not be able to recover it all.

“You will reach a point of diminishing returns in terms of good use of resources.

“These are time-limited schemes.

“We do need to put them to bed at some stage and move on from them.

“And 2022/23 is the year for which our plans go up [to].

“Whether there’s anything that goes on beyond that will depend, I think, on what we find and the rate of return that we’re getting.”

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