Bridget Phillipson MP, Labour’s Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has called on the UK’s public spending watchdog to launch an inquiry into the Chancellor’s Job Retention Bonus scheme.

In a letter to Gareth Davies, National Audit Office Comptroller and Auditor General, Phillipson raises concerns about the Chancellor’s justification for the scheme’s “deadweight costs”. Rishi Sunak told the Treasury Select Committee that implementing the scheme in practice was “very difficult” and that other schemes for which he is responsible were also imperfect.

The inquiry should consider whether the scheme will deliver value for money for taxpayers before the legislation to deliver it comes before Parliament.

Calling it “extraordinary” for the Chancellor to defend spending large amounts of public money inefficiently on the grounds that other public spending for which he is responsible could also be better targeted, Phillipson makes clear that Government should “always be looking for ways to secure greater public good from public spending”.

Bridget Phillipson MP said:

“Labour is very concerned that the Chancellor’s Job Retention Bonus risks handing over billions to businesses that were already planning to bring their workers back from furlough.

“Labour accepts that no scheme can be perfect, but a poorly targeted and wasteful scheme is a missed opportunity. That’s why the NAO should investigate.

“With payroll employment down almost 650,000 since March, the need to target government support where it’s needed most couldn’t be clearer.”

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Letter to Comptroller & Auditor General regarding Job Retention Bonus
Letter to Comptroller & Auditor General regarding Job Retention Bonus
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