The ex-chancellor has been forced to defend his pandemic record just as he attempts to portray himself as the careful steward of the public’s finances

Former chancellor Rishi Sunak comes under fire over Covid scheme fraud

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Former chancellor Rishi Sunak comes under fire from senior Tories for allowing billions of pounds to be lost to fraud from Covid schemes

  • Rishi Sunak has been hammered by senior Tories over Covid fraud and mistakes 
  • The handling of the crisis is being used by critics of Sunak to undermine him 
  • Around £37bn was squandered by fraud, waste of loss in dealing with Covid
  • Sunak’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme is believed to have been hit by £4bn fraud

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Senior Tories have hammered Rishi Sunak for allowing billions of pounds to be lost in fraud and error from Covid schemes.

The ex-chancellor has been forced to defend his pandemic record just as he attempts to portray himself as the careful steward of the public’s finances.

His critics are determined to make his handling of the crisis a key issue as Conservative members prepare to vote on whether they want Mr Sunak or Liz Truss to replace Boris Johnson.

The ex-chancellor has been forced to defend his pandemic record just as he attempts to portray himself as the careful steward of the public’s finances

The ex-chancellor has been forced to defend his pandemic record just as he attempts to portray himself as the careful steward of the public’s finances

This week Mr Sunak said it was ‘reasonable’ for taxes to rise ‘because everyone knows we’ve spent a fortune during Covid’

This week Mr Sunak said it was ‘reasonable’ for taxes to rise ‘because everyone knows we’ve spent a fortune during Covid’

This week Mr Sunak said it was ‘reasonable’ for taxes to rise ‘because everyone knows we’ve spent a fortune during Covid’

Another £4billion was expected to be lost to fraudsters from the furlough scheme and the Eat Out To Help Out restaurant subsidy

This week Mr Sunak said it was ‘reasonable’ for taxes to rise ‘because everyone knows we’ve spent a fortune during Covid’. But leading Tories labelled his ‘spray and pay’ approach to coronavirus handouts as ‘shamefully negligent’, and accused Mr Sunak of ‘talking a good game, which is not matched by delivery’.

Did his video breach rules?

Rishi Sunak may have breached parliamentary guidelines by filming a leadership campaign video in a meeting room on the estate.

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The ex-chancellor filmed a celebratory speech in the Thatcher Room after making the final two in Wednesday’s ballot. Mr Sunak can be seen speaking in front of a ‘Ready for Rishi’ poster in a room full of supporters.

But a parliamentary handbook for members says committee and meeting rooms can be booked only for ‘purposes connected to [their] parliamentary duties’.

A contravention may breach the Members’ Code of Conduct, which could lead to sanctions, including a suspension.

As much as a tenth of the £376billion Covid bill was squandered by the Treasury to fraud, waste or loss – potentially costing each Briton £559. This included loans worth up to £17billion granted under the bounce back loan scheme which will never be repaid. Of this £3.5billion was lost to organised criminals, fraudsters and error, according to the latest estimates.

Another £4billion was expected to be lost to fraudsters from the furlough scheme and the Eat Out To Help Out restaurant subsidy. The losses have led critics to question Mr Sunak’s record at the Treasury. Lord Agnew, who resigned over its failure to tackle fraud, told the Daily Mail: ‘Rishi Sunak has set out his stall as a careful steward of the nation’s finances but key questions remain unanswered about how the Government is tackling the appalling levels of fraud in the Covid schemes.

‘Mr Sunak has repeatedly blocked the publication of the performance dashboard which could save the taxpayer hundreds of millions, if not billions, of pounds. He talks a good game, but on the ground the delivery doesn’t match it. It is a cruel irony that at a time when we should be diverting resources to assist in the cost of living crisis, taxpayers’ money is being wasted on this scale.’

Another senior Tory said: ‘It is shamefully negligent that no basic safeguards were put in place when these loans were made. Billions were carelessly shovelled out of the door… Efforts at retrieving the money have been lacklustre to say the least. And now we’re paying the highest taxes since the 1940s to fund all this. It’s just staggering.’ A third Tory said: ‘Clearly Rishi Sunak adopted a spray and pay policy and we could all see on the ground that there was something amiss. To a degree you can understand why in a national emergency you just want to get money out the door. But it is still true that billions of pounds have been defrauded by individuals and also by organised crime. The buck has to stop at the Treasury and Mr Sunak.’

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After Liz does Maggie, Rishi does a Dave… 

We’ve already seen Liz Truss wearing attire reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher.

And now – with rolled up sleeves and an open collar – it appears Rishi Sunak is attempting to draw comparisons with another Tory prime minister: David Cameron.

Former chancellor Mr Sunak was pictured on the campaign trail in Sevenoaks, Kent, yesterday, striking a remarkably similar pose to Mr Cameron who regularly made a conscious effort not to dress too formally.

Both politicians attended elite private schools, but Mr Sunak may want the comparisons to end there as he tries to appeal to the Tory Right.

With rolled up sleeves and an open collar – it appears Rishi Sunak is attempting to draw comparisons with another Tory prime minister: David Cameron

With rolled up sleeves and an open collar – it appears Rishi Sunak is attempting to draw comparisons with another Tory prime minister: David Cameron

David Cameron

David Cameron

With rolled up sleeves and an open collar – it appears Rishi Sunak is attempting to draw comparisons with another Tory prime minister: David Cameron

A senior Tory said: ‘Clearly Rishi Sunak adopted a spray and pay policy and we could all see on the ground that there was something amiss. To a degree you can understand why in a national emergency you just want to get money out the door. But it is still true that billions of pounds have been defrauded by individuals and also by organised crime. The buck has to stop at the Treasury and Mr Sunak'

A senior Tory said: ‘Clearly Rishi Sunak adopted a spray and pay policy and we could all see on the ground that there was something amiss. To a degree you can understand why in a national emergency you just want to get money out the door. But it is still true that billions of pounds have been defrauded by individuals and also by organised crime. The buck has to stop at the Treasury and Mr Sunak'

A senior Tory said: ‘Clearly Rishi Sunak adopted a spray and pay policy and we could all see on the ground that there was something amiss. To a degree you can understand why in a national emergency you just want to get money out the door. But it is still true that billions of pounds have been defrauded by individuals and also by organised crime. The buck has to stop at the Treasury and Mr Sunak’

During a TV debate last Sunday, leadership rival Kemi Badenoch claimed that Mr Sunak had ignored her concerns that support schemes were vulnerable to fraud while she was a junior minister at the Treasury

During a TV debate last Sunday, leadership rival Kemi Badenoch claimed that Mr Sunak had ignored her concerns that support schemes were vulnerable to fraud while she was a junior minister at the Treasury

During a TV debate last Sunday, leadership rival Kemi Badenoch claimed that Mr Sunak had ignored her concerns that support schemes were vulnerable to fraud while she was a junior minister at the Treasury

Mr Sunak replied: ‘That is absolutely not right. We have taken tackling fraud incredibly seriously and set up all the systems in place to recover money from fraudsters... At this point dozens of arrests have already happened, and billions have been recovered’

Mr Sunak replied: ‘That is absolutely not right. We have taken tackling fraud incredibly seriously and set up all the systems in place to recover money from fraudsters... At this point dozens of arrests have already happened, and billions have been recovered’

Mr Sunak replied: ‘That is absolutely not right. We have taken tackling fraud incredibly seriously and set up all the systems in place to recover money from fraudsters… At this point dozens of arrests have already happened, and billions have been recovered’

During a TV debate last Sunday, leadership rival Kemi Badenoch claimed that Mr Sunak had ignored her concerns that support schemes were vulnerable to fraud while she was a junior minister at the Treasury. He replied: ‘That is absolutely not right. We have taken tackling fraud incredibly seriously and set up all the systems in place to recover money from fraudsters… At this point dozens of arrests have already happened, and billions have been recovered.’

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Adding that he was ‘proud’ of his record, he said that the new estimates for fraud on the bounce back loan scheme have been reduced by a third. The Government declined to comment.

Emergency action is needed to save the NHS from breaking, he warns

In a speech in Grantham, Lincolnshire, Mr Sunak will say: ‘Waiting times for everything from major surgery to a visit to the GP are at record levels'

In a speech in Grantham, Lincolnshire, Mr Sunak will say: ‘Waiting times for everything from major surgery to a visit to the GP are at record levels'

In a speech in Grantham, Lincolnshire, Mr Sunak will say: ‘Waiting times for everything from major surgery to a visit to the GP are at record levels’

The NHS will ‘break’ unless emergency action is taken to tackle waiting lists, Rishi Sunak will warn today.

The former chancellor is set to unveil a package of measures – such as turning empty high street shops into pop-up diagnostic centres and creating a new vaccine-style taskforce to cut bureaucracy.

In the wake of the pandemic, the NHS waiting list has soared to a record 6.6million with more than 330,000 people waiting over a year for treatment.

The crisis has seen a surge in the number of people self-funding their medical treatment, with 69,000 forced to pay privately in the last quarter of last year – a surge of more than a third.

In a speech in Grantham, Lincolnshire, Mr Sunak will say: ‘Waiting times for everything from major surgery to a visit to the GP are at record levels. Already many people are using money they can’t really afford to go private… That is privatisation by the back door and it’s wrong.

‘People shouldn’t have to make a choice with a gun to their head. If we do not immediately set in train a radically different approach the NHS will come under unsustainable pressure and break. From day one I will make tackling the NHS backlog my number one public service priority.’

Today’s speech in Grantham is a deliberate nod to Margaret Thatcher, who was born in the town. Mr Sunak has been keen to stress his Thatcherite credentials. He wrote in The Daily Telegraph this week that, as prime minister, he would ‘deliver a set of reforms as radical as the ones Margaret Thatcher drove through in the 1980s to unleash growth and prosperity’.

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