BBC: Fiona Bruce mistakes female audience member for a man
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The data released by HM Revenue and Customs show that some £5.8billion has been criminally siphoned off from furlough and other business relief schemes since coronavirus struck. A task force set up to get the money back has so far got its hands on around £500million and is projected to have received a further £1billion by the end of 2023.
Talking about the mismanagement of the funds, the audience member said: “I find it appalling is mismanagement of taxpayers’ money.
“This week on Monday it was announced the treasury was going to write-off £4.2bn of fraud from Covid loans.
“That’s of the £5.8bn in Covid fraud.
“They have recovered 500 million, they think they will get another billion back in the next year at a cost to us of 100 million – that is what it is going to cost us – and they are going to write off 4.3 billion.
“That is 10 percent of the Scottish block grant for next year.
“That is almost the same amount as the 5 billion that the secretary of health announced was being given to the National Health Service on its covid recovery path and we are going to write it off.”
Rishi Sunak launched a £100million task force to crack down on Covid fraud in February last year.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters: “We introduced these unprecedented Covid support schemes at speed to protect jobs and livelihoods.
“The result of the action is that the economy is back to pre-pandemic levels, and we are the first major European economy to report that.
“Employee numbers are growing at a record rate and redundancies are at their lowest level since December 2006.
“Obviously fraud is unacceptable and we are taking action against those abusing the system;. 150,000 ineligible claims blocked, £500m recovered last year and HMRC taxpayer protection task force is expected to recover an additional £1bn of taxpayers’ money.”
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Aired on Wednesday night, the hour-long show presented by Fiona Bruce also featured Stephen Kerr MSP, chief whip for the Scottish Conservative Party at Holyrood, Emily Thornberry MP, shadow attorney general for England and Wales and Màiri McAllan MSP, Scottish government minister for Environment and Land Reform.
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