Ministry of Finance criticized for agreeing to spend £ 500,000 on focus groups and polls | Conservatives

Treasury executives have been criticized for approving £ 500,000 of taxpayers’ money to be spent on focus groups and polls in the midst of the cost-of-living crisis.

Deltapoll, an independent public consultancy firm, was selected to carry out the work on an option to extend the contract by another year, which would take the potential total cost to £ 1m.

Labor said it was “simply overwhelming” that the department had given the green light to “little more than a taxpayer-funded vanity exercise”.

Tender documents published by the government show that the contract states that the researchers are expected to conduct twice-weekly focus groups and weekly online polls over a 12-month period ending in February 2023.

They should also prepare “in-depth reports” on their results, including analyzes, on a monthly basis.

A source from the Ministry of Finance insisted that the research was policy-focused instead of seeking feedback on Rishi Sunak’s personal profile.

Labour’s Vice President Angela Rayner said: “At a time when Rishi Sunak has told the British people that he has no money to ease the cost of living crisis and that it would be ‘stupid’ to cut their energy bills, it is simply overwhelming that he has ordered that half a million more of taxpayers’ money be spent on private focus groups and polls.

“The government apparently has half a million to spend on spin doctors, while Jacob Rees-Mogg threatens to lay off thousands of civil service jobs in the name of cost savings and throws working people under the bus again.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, the Treasury justified their spending on focus groups and polls as an emergency measure to test the impact of various policy options, but now this is little more than a taxpayer – funded vanity exercise for a chancellor desperate to repair his picture.

“He should not have to spend a small fortune on focus groups to hear what the British public is telling him: they want serious action to help with the cost-of-living crisis, starting with the adoption of Labor’s plan for an unexpected North Sea oil and gas tax. to finance cuts in the energy bill. “

While the contract runs until February next year, the award letter states that it can be extended by another 12 months.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Finance said: “The Ministry of Finance conducts regular polls to help develop and measure the impact and understanding of its policies. All voting is subject to the usual bidding process, ensuring the best value for taxpayers’ money.”

On Friday, it emerged that Sunak has become the first front-line politician to be ranked among Britain’s richest people.

The former hedge fund manager and his Indian heiress, Akshata Murty, were named on the Sunday Times’ rich list as the 222nd richest people in Britain with a total fortune of £ 730 million.

It happened a few days after the chancellor warned consumers that “the next few months will be tough” as the cost of living crisis intensifies.

Last July, Boris Johnson’s government was accused of “misusing” taxpayers’ cash after it emerged that public funds were being used to conduct opinion polls on opposition politicians.

Documents released by the Good Law Project, a campaign organization, showed that there were “questions asked” about Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer and Labor London mayor Sadiq Khan.

The documents, which included emails, said the questions allowed the Conservatives to assess the “credibility” of their own spokesmen vis-à-vis other political figures.

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