The Treasury has come under fire for allowing £500,000 in taxpayers’ money to spend on focus groups and polls.
Tender documents published by the government show consultants Deltapoll were selected to undertake the work, with an option to extend the contract for another year, bringing the potential total cost to £1million.
The contract says the researchers are expected to conduct twice-weekly focus groups and weekly online polls for a 12-month period ending in February 2023.
They must also prepare monthly “in-depth reports” on their findings, including analysis.
Labor said it was “just disconcerting” that the department had given the green light to “nothing more than a taxpayer-funded vanity exercise for a chancellor desperate to restore his image”.
But a Treasury source insisted the investigation 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 the British people he has no money to ease the cost of living crisis, and that cutting their energy bills would be ‘stupid’ it’s just appalling that he’s ordered half a million more tax dollars 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 spend a small fortune on focus groups to hear what the British public is telling him: they want serious action to help with the cost of living crisis, starting with the approval of Labor’s plan for a windfall on Oil and gas from the North Sea to finance the reduction of energy bills.”
Although the contract will run until February next year, the award letter states it could be extended for a further 12 months, worth a total of £1million.
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.”
Last year, 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 showed “questions” were being raised about Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer and Labor London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
The papers said the questions allowed the government to assess the “credibility” of its own spokespersons against other political figures.