Lord Agnew, the UK’s Minister of State for Efficiency and Transformation, has accused the Treasury of neglect in handling Covid loan fraud. In a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, Lord Agnew expressed his concerns about the lack of action taken by the Treasury to prevent fraudulent claims for government-backed loans.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the UK economy, with many businesses struggling to survive. To help support these businesses, the government introduced a range of loan schemes, including the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).
However, there have been reports of fraudsters taking advantage of these schemes, with some businesses making false claims for loans they were not entitled to. Lord Agnew has warned that this could lead to a significant loss of public funds, and has called on the Treasury to take urgent action to prevent further fraud.
In his letter, Lord Agnew highlighted a number of concerns about the way the Treasury has handled the loan schemes. He accused the department of failing to carry out adequate checks on loan applications, and of not doing enough to investigate suspicious claims.
Lord Agnew also raised concerns about the lack of transparency around the loan schemes, and called for greater clarity on the criteria for eligibility. He suggested that the Treasury should work more closely with banks and other lenders to ensure that loans are only given to businesses that genuinely need them.
The Minister’s letter comes amid growing concerns about the scale of fraud in the loan schemes. The National Audit Office has estimated that up to Â£26bn of the Â£43bn lent through the BBLS and CBILS could be lost to fraud and default.
Lord Agnew’s intervention is a clear sign that the government is taking the issue of loan fraud seriously. However, it remains to be seen whether the Treasury will take the necessary steps to prevent further losses of public funds.
In the meantime, businesses that have legitimately taken out loans through the government schemes should ensure that they are complying with the terms and conditions of the loans. Failure to do so could result in legal action, and could damage the reputation of the business in the long term.