·Finance Reporter, Yahoo Finance UK
Mon, 10 October 2022 at 1:03 pm
Government departments wasted over £4bn last year, with £8.6m squandered by the Home Office as it ditched burgundy passports when the colour was switched to blue.
The analysis of the accounts of Whitehall departments by the Labour party for the 2020-21 financial year shows that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy alone managed to write off more than £1.6bn of taxpayers’ money. This included £1bn in fraud and error from COVID grants alone.
The Department for Health and Social Care wasted just under £1.6bn while the Ministry of Justice wrote off £233m, including a £2m loss after HM Prison and Probation Service made a mistake when calculating how much should be charged for youth custody accommodation.
At the Home Office, on top of the passport blunder, another £800,000 was spent on plane tickets for migrant deportations that were never used due to legal challenges.
The burgundy design was replaced in March, following the UK’s departure from the European Union.
Blue passports were introduced in 1921 and phased out after 1988 when members of the then European Economic Community agreed to harmonise designs.
Securing a change in the design became a rallying point for Brexit supporters, with the government announcing in December 2017 that the blue passport would return.
The Department of Education spent £3.2m designing the new building that would house the National College for Digital Skills, only to see the entire project scrapped and the taxpayers’ money lost.
“This catalogue of waste and write-offs shows the cost of a Conservative government.
“They claim to be the party of fiscal prudence and sound money, but just can’t be trusted with Britain’s economy.
“The Tories’ economic policy is just one colossal write-off, leaving taxpayers paying through the nose for ministers’ mistakes.