Today I’ve written to the head of HMRC about his decision to require a ministerial direction before implementing the Job Retention Bonus.
Given the huge amount of public money involved we need to know if public spending on this scale is achieving value for money.
I am requesting that the Permanent Secretary:
1. Immediately publish whatever information or analyses HMRC staff prepared such that he felt unable to support the scheme without a Ministerial Direction.
2. Immediately publish any estimates or modelling of the scheme prepared, including any work done by Treasury colleagues, on the expected uptake of the scheme, including distributional, sectoral, and regional analyses.
3. Give evidence to Parliament before any legislation is considered which would give effect to the Job Retention Bonus Scheme, in respect of whether the scheme constitutes Value for Money.
Decisive and effective government action to support jobs in the months ahead is so important. But value for money is also critical.
Parliament needs to understand when Ministers are overriding the advice of their own experienced and knowledgeable civil servants.
Every penny given to those who don’t need it, when whole sectors of our economy are in trouble, is money not available to support jobs at risk, money not helping the families and firms in desperate need.