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Chair comments on Secretary of State letters on Covid-19 loans & financial support

26 October 2020

Darren Jones, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, has commented on responses from Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (DBEIS) on concerns regarding Bounce Back Business Loans (BBLS), the Future Fund, and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

Chair's comments

Darren Jones, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said:

“Concerns had been raised, not least by the British Business Bank, about the vulnerability to fraud and abuse of some of the Government’s support. Estimates suggest that several billions of pounds of taxpayer money could be lost. The Chancellor’s latest relaunch of his winter economic programme was welcome but it does raise questions again about the protections and conditions being put in place to ensure public money supports those businesses and workers that need it. Ministers must learn lessons from the earlier rounds of support before wasting more taxpayer money.

“I am still not satisfied by the Government’s explanation as to why it isn’t publishing the data of which companies have received what funding, including through the Future Fund, given taxpayers could end up as shareholders of a whole portfolio of start-up businesses.

“It’s also disappointing that the Secretary of State has resisted calls to set conditions on how public funds can be used, including by companies owned by private equity firms who could pay off the debt used to buy them using tax payer guarantees, allowing private equity owners to cash in while, in some cases, they sit on mountains of cash. If private equity firms are receiving this public money then there should be some conditionality around their commitment to protecting jobs and helping UK businesses get through this pandemic”.

Further information

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