A quick search of questions asked in the House of Lords by Baroness Buscombe (Conservative) reveal she is not one to jump to her feet regularly and ask HM Government questions, so it was somewhat of a surprise that on the 9th of February she got the urge to do so.
This is the question she asked that day:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much HM Treasury has paid out to Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBL) lending banks under the state guarantee up to 31 January 2022; and what percentage of this figure was attributed to losses from fraud.
It will of course more than likely be “shifty” Lord Callanan the Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy) that will be tasked with answering that question, and the clock is ticking down to when that answer will be given.
In fact, it will be by the 23rd of February it should be answered.
However, keep in mind that Rishi recently took to Twitter and stated that:
“A lot of people are concerned about fraud in our Covid support measures and they’re absolutely right to be. No, I’m not ignoring it, and I’m definitely not ‘writing it off”.
You can read what he said in full here >> https://mrbounceback.com/statement-by-rishi-sunak-regarding-the-writing-off-of-fraudulent-bounce-back-loans/
Now, those of us who are beginning to suspect that the Bounce Back Loan scheme and the guarantee aspect of it is being kept a closely guarded secret, are suspicious about Baroness Buscombe’s question and whether it will be answered in full.
Keep in mind if you attempt to request the actual guarantee agreement between the Banks and the Government you will be presented with a heavily redacted document.
Also, when the National Audit Office recently asked the British Business Bank for up-to-date information on the levels of defaults and guarantees claimed upon as part of their BBL investigation they gave out of date data, stating their portal had not been updated to reflect current information.
Proof of that:
“NAO drew on the BBBs Portal data at 30 Sept 2021. We requested a detailed breakdown of the underlying loans but it was not available as the Portal data had been updated with more recent figures”
So, what will Baroness Buscombe be told this week, well I would say it will more than likely be one of the following:
She too will be given out of date data much like the NAO were, or possibly accurate up to date information will be supplied showing a small number of guarantees claimed upon and paid out for suspected fraudulent BBLS, to help Rishi then go on a crusade to say he is taking BBL fraud seriously.
If the latter, that will prove if nothing else the Government is at the very least stalling on paying out the guarantees, much more so on suspected fraudulent BBLs that have been defaulted on and may be holding out on doing so for up to 12 months.
A recent FOI to the Insolvency Service did reveal that some 9,733 businesses had been wound up owing a BBL, so we at least know those figures, and as I say we will have to discover what is said in reply to her question this week to know if some skulduggery is afoot or not.
You can view the facts and figures revealed on that FOI here > https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/insolvency-service-foi-responses-october-to-december-2021/foi-112-coronavirus-bounce-back-loans-and-insolvent-companies