U.K. Taxpayers Face £26 Billion Bill for Covid Loans, Panel Says
U.K. taxpayers face a bill of as much as 26 billion pounds ($35 billion) to cover state-backed coronavirus loans that businesses are unable to repay or were fraudulently claimed, lawmakers warned.
Ministers prioritized speed of delivery “over all other aspects of value for money” when they rolled out a program of 100% guaranteed Bounce Back Loans to help small and medium-sized companies weather the pandemic, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee said in a report published Wednesday.
“Rushing to get money out of the door after the fact didn’t allow for analysis of how many businesses needed this help, could benefit from it, or could repay it,” Meg Hillier, who chairs the cross-party panel, said in a statement. “Dropping the most basic checks was a huge issue that puts the taxpayer at risk to the tune of billions.”
The report marks the latest criticism of Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak’s response to the resurgent pandemic. Opposition parties have already slammed him for being behind the curve after being forced into announcing major changes to Covid job support programs five times in six weeks. Sunak himself has acknowledged “deadweight costs” in some of his initiatives.
192,479 in U.S.Most new cases today
+10% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23
-0.8212 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23
3.7% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), Nov.