More than 1,000 companies received bounce back loans despite the fact that they ’were not even trading when Covid struck’, according to the minister

The anti-fraud minister Lord Theodore Agnew of Oulton resigned yesterday (24 January 2022) after protesting about the UK government’s “woeful” efforts to stop fraud within its coronavirus support schemes.

Theodore Agnew

Lord Theodore Agnew

According to Reuters, Agnew confirmed he was quitting his joint positions in the Cabinet Office and Treasury while speaking at the despatch box in the House of Lords.

Addressing his peers, Agnew said: “Given that I’m the minister for counter-fraud, it feels somewhat dishonest to stay on in that role if I’m incapable of doing it properly, let alone defending our track record.”

Agnew made his announcement while he was updating peers on his efforts to raise several problems through official channels, for example, the £4.3bn of Covid loans written off by the Treasury.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is a government-backed scheme which provided support to businesses that needed finance to survive the pandemic and ongoing lockdowns. 

Agnew was a Conservative minister and was responsible for overspending and reducing fraud.

’Schoolboy errors’

The UK government acknowledged that some fraud has occurred concerning its Covid-linked financial support schemes, however it disputed that it has written off £4.3bn in fraud across more than £80bn of job support provided by the Treasury.

Agnew added: “Schoolboy errors were made, for example allowing over 1,000 companies to receive bounce back loans that were not even trading when Covid struck.”

He noted that the oversight of schemes such as the state-owned British Business Bank had been “woeful” and that the Treasury has shown little interest in the wider consequences of fraud.

Agnew was appointed minister of state for the Cabinet Office and the Treasury on 14 February 2020.

Previously, he served as parliamentary under secretary of state for the school system between 28 September 2017 and 14 February 2020.

He has also worked as a lead non-executive board member at the Ministry of Justice and as a non-executive board member at the Department for Education, as chair of the department’s Academies Board from 2013 to 2015.

Insurance Times has contact the Agnew for further comment.