Treasury bosses have been criticized for authorizing £500,000 in taxpayers’ money to spend on focus groups and polls amid the cost of living crisis.
Deltapoll, an independent public opinion consultancy, was selected to undertake the work with an option to extend the contract for a further year, bringing the potential total cost to £1million.
Labor said it was “just shocking” that the department had given the green light to “nothing more than a taxpayer-funded vanity exercise”.
Tender documents published by the government indicate that the contract states that the researchers are expected to conduct twice weekly focus groups and weekly online surveys for a 12-month period ending in February 2023.
They must also prepare monthly “in-depth reports” on their findings, including analysis.
A Treasury source insisted the survey was policy-oriented rather than seeking feedback on Rishi Sunak’s personal profile.
Labor deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “At a time when Rishi Sunak has been telling the British people that he has no money to ease the cost of living, and that cutting their energy bills would be ‘stupid’, it’s just staggering that he’s ordered half a million more taxpayer money to be spent on private focus groups and opinion polls.
“The government apparently has half a million to spend on spin doctors, while Jacob Rees-Mogg threatens to cut thousands of government jobs in the name of cost-cutting, putting 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 for recovery. his image.
He shouldn’t be spending a small fortune on focus groups to hear what the UK public is telling him: they want serious action to help with the cost of living, starting with the approval of Labor’s plan for a windfall tax in the North Sea . oil and gas to finance energy bill savings.”
Although the contract runs until February next year, the award letter states that it can be extended for a further 12 months.
A Treasury spokesperson said: “The Treasury conducts regular polls to help develop and measure the impact and understanding of its policies. All polls are subject to the usual tender process, ensuring the best value for taxpayers’ money.”
On Friday, it emerged that Sunak has become the first frontline politician to be among the richest people in the UK.
The former hedge fund manager and his Indian heiress wife, Akshata Murty, were named in the Sunday Times list as the 222nd richest people in the UK, with a combined fortune of £730 million.
It came days after the chancellor warned consumers that “the next few months will be tough” as the cost of living rises.
Last July, Boris Johnson’s government was accused of “misusing” taxpayers’ money after it emerged that public funds were being used to conduct polls on opposition politicians.
Documents released by the Good Law Project, a campaign organization, show “questions” were raised about Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer and Labor London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
The documents, including emails, said the questions allowed conservatives to assess the “credibility” of their own spokespersons against other political figures.