Rishi’s dishes ‘leave a bad taste for tax­payer’

Metro (UK) - - NEWS -

TWO schemes un­veiled by chan­cel­lor Rishi Su­nak to stem job losses may not be value for money for tax­pay­ers, a top of­fi­cial has warned.

HM Rev­enue and Cus­toms head Jim Harra wrote to Mr Su­nak to ex­press con­cerns about pay­ing com­pa­nies £1,000 to re­tain fur­loughed staff.

He also ques­tioned the value for money of a dis­count scheme of­fer­ing 50 per cent off restau­rant meals.

Mr Harra re­quested two for­mal min­is­te­rial di­rec­tions to go ahead with the job re­ten­tion bonus aimed at staving off re­dun­dan­cies and the ‘eat out to help out’ scheme de­spite his own con­cerns.

In both let­ters to the chan­cel­lor, he said each have ‘sound pol­icy ra­tio­nale’ but noted they had both re­ceived ad­vice that ‘high­lights un­cer­tainty around the value for money of this pro­posal’.

Paul John­son, the direc­tor of the re­spected In­sti­tute for Fis­cal Stud­ies, warned a ‘reck­on­ing, in the form of higher taxes’ would have to come.

He also said most of the £9bil­lion from the job re­ten­tion bonus scheme will be paid for staff ‘that would have been, in­deed al­ready have been, re­turned from fur­lough any­way’ and would have been in work in Jan­uary re­gard­less.

Labour leader Sir

Keir Starmer (pic­tured) also said min­is­ters could not af­ford the ‘dead weight’ in in­vest­ment. Dur­ing a visit to Har­low, he said the funds ‘should have been tar­geted in the ar­eas that most need it, not across the piece’.

Mr Su­nak told BBC Ra­dio ’s To­day that ‘with­out ques­tion’ there has been ‘dead weight in all of the in­ter­ven­tions we have put in place’.

He said: ‘In an ideal world... you would min­imise that dead weight and do ev­ery­thing in in­cred­i­bly tar­geted fash­ion. The prob­lem is the sever­ity of what was hap­pen­ing to our econ­omy, the scale of what was hap­pen­ing, and in­deed the speed that it was hap­pen­ing at de­manded a dif­fer­ent re­sponse.’ Mean­while, The Res­o­lu­tion Foun­da­tion ar­gued Mr Su­nak’s ‘re­mark­ably con­ven­tional’ lat­est spend­ing ‘risks fall­ing short of what will be re­quired’.

It was among those warn­ing that the move to im­me­di­ately lift the min­i­mum stamp duty thresh­old from £125,000 to £500,000 in Eng­land and North­ern Ire­land would ‘largely ben­e­fit’ those in Lon­don and the south of Eng­land.

The ex­perts also warned that few first­time buy­ers will ben­e­fit and in­stead they will lose their ‘priv­i­leged’ tax po­si­tion over other pur­chasers.


A help­ing el­bow: Mr Su­nak meets staff at the Worces­ter Bosch fac­tory in Worces­ter

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