Treasury contracts show researchers have been hired to conduct two focus groups and a national online poll every week until February next year, with Labour claiming the total cost will hit more than £1.35 million.
And it comes just days after Mr Sunak told MPs that “trying to borrow and spend our way” out of the cost of living crisis is “the wrong approach”, with the government taking a “careful, deliberate approach” instead.
Like spending huge chunks of public money on polling, apparently.
In a statement to the Commons last Tuesday, Mr Sunak said: “We will act to cut costs for those people without making the situation worse. We will continue to back people who work hard - as we always have - and we will do more to support the most vulnerable.
“And, unlike others, we will not simply borrow our way out.”
Responding to sum being spent on focus groups, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner slammed the move as “little more than a taxpayer-funded vanity exercise for a chancellor desperate to repair his image”.
“The government apparently has half a million to spend on spin doctors while Jacob Rees-Mogg is threatening to axe thousands of civil service jobs in the name of cost-saving,” she said.
And looking at Twitter this morning, it seems like Mr Sunak could find out what the public think of him for free:
The guy who told us he has no money to ease the cost of living crisis\n\nThe guy who said cutting our energy bills would be \u2018silly\u2019\n\nThe guy who just entered The Sunday Times rich list\n\n\u2026just spent \u00a3500k of our cash on focus groups \u2018to repair his image\u2019https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/rishi-sunak-focus-groups-rayner-b2084297.html\u00a0\u2026
As a taxpayer I'd like to know exactly what Rishi Sunak has actually done or changed to try to repair his image that has cost me \u00a3500K? I haven't noticed any change? I think taxpayers should be entitled to know.\n\nAs a Civil Servant I had to justify ordering a new stapler!
\u201cTwo focus groups and one online poll each week until February 2023 will take the total outlay to above \u00a31.35m\u201d\n\nA rich man using public funds for personal gain, when he should be looking after public during a cost of living crisis - is not a great look.https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/rishi-sunak-focus-groups-rayner-b2084297.html\u00a0\u2026
— Mike Galsworthy \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6 (@Mike Galsworthy \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6)
Rishi Sunak, worth \u00a3730 million, has just spent \u00a3500,000 of taxpayers\u2019 money on focus groups \u2018to repair his image\u2019.\n\nYou might want to ask for a refund, Chancellor.
Apparently Rishi Sunak has spent \u00a3500,000 of taxpayers\u2019 cash on focus groups \u2018to repair his image\u2019\n\n\u00a3500,000 would roughly buy 390 combination boilers for extreme fuel poverty households, 390 mid range wheelchairs for disabled children or 3640 families of 4 weekly shopping
— Dan White \u267f\ufe0f (@Dan White \u267f\ufe0f)
It's the arrogance of the Tories to think that it's in the public's interest for the public to love Tories.\n\nSo much so that it's worth spending their taxes to make sure they do.https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/rishi-sunak-focus-groups-rayner-b2084297.html?utm_content=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=Main&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1653145421\u00a0\u2026
So less focus groups and more focussing on his actual job, then – that makes sense.
A Treasury spokesperson said of the cash: “The Treasury conducts regular polling to help develop and measure the impact and understanding of its policies. All polling is subject to the usual tender process, ensuring the best value for taxpayers’ money.”
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