The Labour Party has produced a dossier highlighting 100 examples of “wasteful government spending”, which took place while Rishi Sunak was Chancellor and Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said that during his time at the Treasury, Mr Sunak oversaw “billions of pounds” of wasted spending that “could have transformed Britain” but was instead “handed over to fraudsters and crony contractors”.
“The British people deserve a government that will treat taxpayer money with respect,” she said.
“What all these 100 examples have in common is that… the man whose job it was for three years to scrutinise this spending never lifted a finger to stop the money being thrown away, and in many cases, ignored direct warnings of the risks.”
She said that the examples were a “badge of shame” for the Prime Minister, and pledged that a Labour government would “treat every pound of taxpayer money with the respect it deserves”.
“With our strong fiscal rules and our Office for Value for Money, Labour will root out waste and make our economy stronger.”
The accusations from Labour comes as Mr Sunak and his Chancellor Jeremy Hunt prepare for the Budget next month when they will be under pressure from backbench MPs to find room for tax cuts.
Prior to becoming Prime Minister, Mr Sunak was Chief Secretary to the Treasury between July 2019 and February 2020 before he was promoted to Chancellor, a role he held until his resignation in July 2022.
The 100 examples produced by the Labour Party, which constitute £26.8bn in lost spending, cover multiple areas including coronavirus support, NHS spending and defence spending which were all overseen by Mr Sunak while he was at the Treasury.
Labour assembled the dossier from publicly available departmental data, reports from the National Audit Office (NAO) and reports in the media.
Several of the cases relate to PPE purchases during the pandemic, with £7.94bn reportedly wasted on products which were either overpriced, unusable in the NHS or not used by the expiry date.
Labour also highlighted taxpayer money lost to fraud relating to the furlough scheme, which totalled £3.46bn, and the bounce-back loan scheme for small businesses, which totalled £1.12bn.
Other coronavirus fraud examples include £1bn reportedly lost to fraud via Covid-era support for the self-employed and £1.12bn lost via the Bounce Back loan for businesses.
Unused vaccines incurred significant costs, with £2.33bn spent on non-refundable advances on vaccines that were eventually not required, and £214m spent on a contract for the French Valneva vaccine which was ultimately cancelled by the government.
Wasted spending was also highlighted in the Ministry of Defence (MoD), where multiple instances of delayed or cancelled procurements of equipment had led to a significant cost to the taxpayer.
76 months of delays to the new warhead facility in Burghfield have pushed the cost of the project £1.07bn over budget, while procurement of new Astute Class submarines was £1.01bn over budget.
The scrapping of the upgrades to Warrior armoured by the MoD cost £594.6m, while delays to the purchase of new Chinook helicopters had cost an extra £295m due to rising inflation pushing up the likely costs of the project.
Other examples included the Unboxed Festival – often dubbed the “Festival of Brexit” – which cost £120m to stage but received only 240,000 visitors despite having a target of 66 million.
The £46m worth of advertising campaigns ahead of the planned date of the UK’s departure from the EU, which was slated for 31 Oct 2019, was also wasted after it was pushed back. A report by the NAO later found that the campaign had also done little to raise public preparedness for the departure.
In response to the dossier, Conservative Party chairman Greg Hands said: “The fact that Keir Starmer thinks that spending on the vaccine rollout – which would have faced deadly delays if we listened to his calls to join the EU’s vaccine scheme – is ‘waste’, just goes to show that Labour are unfit to govern.”