The Treasury has come under fire for approving £500,000 of taxpayer money to be spent on focus groups and polls.
Procurement documents released by government exhibitions consultants Deltapoll were selected to carry out the work, with an option to extend the contract for a further year – bringing the total potential cost to £1million.
The contract states that researchers will conduct twice-weekly focus groups and weekly online surveys for a 12-month period through February 2023.
They should also produce monthly “detailed reports” of their findings, including analytics.
Labor said it was “simply stunning” the department had given the go-ahead for “little more than a taxpayer-funded vanity exercise for a chancellor desperate to fix his image”.
But a Treasury Department source insisted the research was policy-oriented, rather than seeking feedback on Mr Sunak’s personal profile.
Labor Deputy Leader Angela Rayner said: “At a time when Rishi Sunak has been telling Brits he has no money to ease the cost of living crisis and that it would be ‘stupid’ to cut their energy bills It’s amazing that he has ordered half a million more tax dollars to be spent on private focus groups and opinion polls.
“The government appears to have half a million to spend on spin doctors while Jacob Rees-Mogg threatens to ax thousands of public sector jobs in the name of cost-cutting and throwing working people under the bus again.
“Earlier in the pandemic, the Treasury Department justified its spending on focus groups and surveys 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 to fix his image.
“He shouldn’t have to spend a small fortune on focus groups to hear what the British public is telling him: they want serious action to tackle the cost of living crisis, starting with the adoption of Labour’s plan for a windfall tax on North Sea oil and gas to finance energy cost reductions.”
While the deal runs until February next year, the award letter says it can be extended for a further 12 months at a total value of £1million.
A Treasury spokesman said: “The Treasury conducts regular surveys to help develop and measure the impact and understanding of its policies.
“All surveys are subject to the usual bidding process to ensure the best value for taxpayers’ money.”
Last year, Boris Johnson’s government was accused of “misusing” taxpayers’ money after it was revealed public money was being used to conduct polls among opposition politicians.
Documents released by the Good Law Project showed that “questions” were being asked about Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer and Labor London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
The newspapers said the questions allowed the government to assess the “credibility” of its own speakers compared to other political figures.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/labour-chancellor-government-deltapoll-british-b2084466.html The Treasury is providing £500,000 of public money for focus groups and surveys