Over half of the sessions hosted by Hanbury Strategy were conducted in the Conservatives’ focus areas of the North, Midlands and Scotland
Rishi Sunak’s Treasury spent £250,000 of taxpayers’ money on focus groups in a single year – and more than half of them took place in Tory target seats.
Information revealed under freedom of information laws reveals that 16 out of 28 focus groups took place in the North East, North West, Midlands and Scotland.
Four sessions took place in Scotland and only one in Wales.
Four more took place in the East Midlands, two in the West Midlands – but only one in London.
Public relations firm Hanbury Strategy – co-founded by Paul Stephenson, who worked alongside Dominic Cummings as communications director for the Vote Leave 2016 campaign – was brought in to lead the sessions.
Deputy Labor Party leader Angela Rayner said: “Rishi Sunak has spent taxpayers’ money on his own spin and self-promotion, but refuses to help people at this time with the cost of living crisis.
“The public aren’t fools – they know it’s pocketing and then expect them to be grateful for it. Locals won’t like it to find their hard-earned money being wasted on development projects. vanity by a Chancellor who has now been well and truly discovered.
“Labour will treat taxpayers’ money with the respect it deserves.”
A Treasury spokesperson said: ‘We run regular polls and focus groups to help develop and measure the impact and understanding of our policies.
“These are balanced across the UK and go through the usual tender process, ensuring the best value for taxpayers money. ”
The cost of focus groups to the Treasury was revealed in response to a parliamentary question from Ms Rayner.
In response, Treasury Minister Helen Whately said: “In 2020 we spent £240,538 on Hanbury Strategy focus groups and survey services combined – this includes all of our focus group spend this year – there, but it’s not possible to break down the amount spent specifically on focus groups.
These are invoices paid during the period from January 2019 to December 2020.