Rachel Reeves echoes Thatcher as she vows to recover money lost to fraud during pandemic

Rachel Reeves echoed Margaret Thatcher as she vowed to go after those who profited from the “carnival of waste” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The shadow chancellor said “we want our money back”, after announcing that a Labour government would appoint a “Covid corruption commissioner” to “chase down those who have ripped off the taxpayer”.

Speaking on the main stage of the party conference in Liverpool, Ms Reeves said Labour would “wage a war against fraud, waste and inefficiency” by cracking down on “Tory ministers’ private jet habit”, by slashing government consultancy spending and by going after “those who profited from the carnival of waste during the pandemic”.

She said: “For too long Tory governments have allowed money to be wasted and taxpayers defrauded.

“So Labour will wage a war against fraud, waste and inefficiency.

“Today I can announce three further fronts in Labour’s war on waste. First, we will crack down on Tory ministers’ private jet habit. What is (Prime Minister) Rishi Sunak so scared of up there in his private jet? Meeting a voter?

“We will enforce the ministerial code on the use of private planes and save millions of pounds for taxpayers in the process.

“Second, we will slash government consultancy spending, which has almost quadrupled in just six years. Consultants can play an important role, but taxpayers must get value for money.

“So we will introduce tough new rules. If a government department wants to bring in consultants, they must demonstrate the value-for-money case and if they cannot, then that request will be denied. We will aim to cut consultancy spending in half over the next parliament.

“And third, we will go after those who profited from the carnival of waste during the pandemic.”

“So I can announce today that we will appoint a Covid corruption commissioner”, she added.

“Supported by a hit squad of investigators, equipped with the powers they need and the mandate to do whatever it takes to chase down those who have ripped off the taxpayer, to take the fraudsters to court and to get back every penny of taxpayers’ money that they can.

“Because that money belongs in our NHS, it belongs in our schools, it belongs in our police.

“And let me tell you, we want our money back.”

The audience erupted in prolonged applause and gave Ms Reeves a standing ovation.

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