Lord Agnew says Government could slash tax by cracking down on fraud

‘Tackle fraud to save £30bn a year’: Lord Agnew says Government could slash tax rises by cracking down on crooks who take taxpayers’ money

  • The Government could slash taxes if it tackled the annual £30bn fraud bill
  • Lord Agnew quit government over the level of fraudulent Covid business loans 
  • He said the level of fraud is ‘so egregious’ that he felt it necessary to resign  
  • Fraud is costing taxpayers £30billion a year but the Government could slash taxes if it tackles the problem, a former Treasury minister said yesterday.

    Lord Agnew quit his post this week, blasting ministers’ handling of fraudulent Covid business loans. Yesterday he criticised the ‘complete lack of focus’ in Whitehall about the cost of fraud to the taxpayer. 

    He said the Government’s failure to do enough on fraud is ‘so egregious and the need for remedy so urgent’ he felt the only option was to ‘smash some crockery’ by quitting.

    Lord Agnew of Oulton, pictured, resigned from his role as Treasury minister on Monday in protest against the level of fraud associated with Covid business loans

    Lord Agnew of Oulton, pictured, resigned from his role as Treasury minister on Monday in protest against the level of fraud associated with Covid business loans 

    Lord Agnew walked out of government after providing a statement to the House of Lords

    Lord Agnew walked out of government after providing a statement to the House of Lords 

    ‘Fraud in government is rampant. Public estimates sit at just under £30billion a year. There is a complete lack of focus on the cost to society, or indeed the taxpayer,’ he wrote in the Financial Times.

    The Government is under pressure to rethink the national insurance contributions hike in April, set to raise £12billion a year.

    It was intended to fund health and social care but most of the money for the first three years will help clear the NHS backlog.

    The rise will take effect just as families face huge increases in energy bills and council tax. Lord Agnew told the Lords on Monday: ‘Action taken today would give this Government a sporting chance of cutting income tax before a likely May 2024 election.’

    His comments suggest that if ministers tackled fraud in government, the Treasury could pay for social care and clear the backlog without a national insurance rise.

    A Treasury spokesman said: ‘Fraud is totally unacceptable and we’re taking action on multiple fronts to crack down on anyone who has sought to exploit our schemes and bring them to justice.’