Foreign aid POLL: Should foreign aid be scrapped after 'misuse of taxpayers’ money'? VOTE

The UK economy has plummeted into its deepest recession in recent history, with the coronavirus pandemic and devastating effects of the imposed lockdowns blowing a huge hole in the country’s fragile finances. Britain’s economy suffered its biggest slump on record FROM April to June when it sunk by a massive 20.4 percent – well above the 9.8 percent drop for the 37 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which includes Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and the US. Chancellor Rishi Sunak warned the Government is “grappling with something that is unprecedented” and that it was “a very difficult and uncertain time”.

But the UK is continuing to spend billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on foreign aid, and the Government is coming under intense pressure to radically review the system, or even scrap it altogether.

British aid increased to £15.2 million in 2019, up from £14.6 million in 2018. This rise was more than the £493 million (3.5 percent) increase in 2018, but lower than the £652 million (5.1 percent) increase the year before.

Last month, the Government announced Britain will cut its global aid budget by £2.9 billion this year because of damaging economic impact of the coronavirus crisis, adding a review of aid projects has prioritised the most vulnerable countries for assistance.

The Government will still retain its commitment to spending at least 0.7 percent of Gross National Income (GNI) on international aid.

foreign aid poll

Should foreign aid be scrapped after ‘misuse of taxpayers’ money’? (Image: GETTY)

boris johnson foreign aid

Boris Johnson and his Government are coming under pressure over the UK’s huge foreign aid budget (Image: GETTY)

At present, the UK is the only G7 country to meet the spending target which was set as a goal by the United Nations in the 1970s.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has confirmed along with the cut in spending, later this year the Government will launch a review to “look at how our aid budget can be used most effectively in our national interest”.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told MPs in the House of Commons: “The coming months will doubtless bring with them a number of financial challenges, so I am writing to update you on the Government’s plans on how we will ensure we continue to meet our 0.7 percent Gross National Income (GNI) spending commitment for Official Development Assistance (ODA).

“Given the likely decrease in the size of the economy this year, the Prime Minister asked me to identify the changes needed to ensure we meet, but do not exceed the 0.7 percent commitment.

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“As this commitment is based on our GNI, when the economy shrinks, our ODA spend also reduces.”

He added: “This has been a thorough process, and we have been able to ensure that the money we will still spend in 2020 remains prioritised on poverty reduction for the ‘bottom billion’, as well as tackling climate change and reversing biodiversity loss, championing girls education, UK leadership in the global response to COVID-19, and campaigning on issues such as media freedom and freedom of religious belief, thereby ensuring that the UK is a global force for good.”

Most recently, it has been revealed the UK paid a firm £50 million to build classrooms for 120,000 children in Pakistan after being warned the buildings could collapse around them because they were in an earthquake zone (link to story).

The crisis-hit building programme has been slashed to less than 8,000 classrooms, with the cost of each surging from £3,000 to £21,000.

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Dominic Raab announced the UK’s foreign aid budget would be slashed this year (Image: GETTY)

uk taxpayers foreign aid

Are UK taxpayers contributing too much to the foreign aid budget? (Image: GETTY)

Sarah Champion, chairwoman of the International Development Committee, told The Times: “I do not know of a worse example of aid misspend. It has shocked me to the very core that it went on for so long. This is a scandalous misuse of taxpayers’ money.

“The lack of accountability all the way through — from procurement to health and safety to delivery — was genuinely shocking. Are there other projects like this that are going as catastrophically wrong?

“There were two large failings. One, it seems that civil servants kept the information from ministers. But two, the ministers have known about this and I do not believe that they have got a grip on the scale and the severity of the problem still now.”

China received a staggering £71.6 million in British foreign aid in 2018 – despite Beijing’s economy being five times bigger than Britain’s.

The figures in the Department for International Development’s annual report last month showed some of the eye-watering sums was even used to help set up Chinese firms to compete with British businesses.

Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith lashed out at the report, and questioned why the UK was sending millions to a country which was “breaking every rule in the book”.



Foreign aid scandal: UK gave £50m of taxpayers cash to build 'unsafe' Pakistan classrooms

The huge sum was paid to the company by officials running British aid’s biggest education infrastructure programme. The classrooms were eventually abandoned over design faults, meaning pupils were forced to be educated in tents or packed into current buildings during the coronavirus pandemic. This horrific situation first emerged last year, but The Times investigation claims officials at the Department for International Development (DFID) had been warned of problems long before that.

Ministers were kept in the dark for years, despite the independent assessment of the school plans triggering fears the buildings might not be structurally safe, according to the investigation.

Boris Johnson – who was unaware of design safety concerns – even laid a plaque at one of the schools as a mark of the UK’s investment in the education of Pakistani children. The girls’ school the Prime Minister inaugurated in Lahore has since been evacuated.

The crisis-hit building programme has been slashed to less than 8,000 classrooms, with the cost of each surging from £3,000 to £21,000.

Sarah Champion, chairwoman of the International Development Committee, told The Times: “I do not know of a worse example of aid misspend. It has shocked me to the very core that it went on for so long. This is a scandalous misuse of taxpayers’ money.

uk foreign aid boris johnson

The UK gave £50million of taxpayers cash to build ‘unsafe’ classrooms in Pakistan (Image: GETTY)

uk foreign aid earthquake

Pakistan has been devastated by huge earthquakes over recent years (Image: GETTY)

“The lack of accountability all the way through — from procurement to health and safety to delivery — was genuinely shocking. Are there other projects like this that are going as catastrophically wrong?

“There were two large failings. One, it seems that civil servants kept the information from ministers. But two, the ministers have known about this and I do not believe that they have got a grip on the scale and the severity of the problem still now.”

Next month, the DFID is being merged into the Foreign Office, with the select committee subsequently being terminated, and as a result, Ms Chapman fears there will now be less parliamentary scrutiny of aid, warning this affair “may well be symptomatic of other large-scale projects that DFID is running”.

The province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the northwestern region of Pakistan, where classrooms were being built, is a dangerous earthquake zone, with 6,704 school buildings suffering damage in 2005 and 815 in 2015.

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uk foreign aid pakistan

Pakistan was hit by a huge earthquake in 2005, which killed tens of thousands of people (Image: GETTY)

The under-fire building programme was handed a budget of £184million, including £164million from the UK, but quickly began experiencing problems.

The investigation claims the Board of Investment in Pakistan, which objected to two respected Britons on the programme, cancelled IMC’s registration in June 2014, before this company withdrew from the country six months’ later.

Following intense pressure, Pakistan let one of the employees return but insisted the other, whose duties included weeding out corruption, must be dropped, meaning the Dfid could not sign its contract with IMC until the row was resolved in April 2015, it is claimed.

IMC then doubled the price of each classroom to £6,000 just weeks after claiming costs were on track to meet budgets, a move that saw the DFID slash the number of classrooms by almost half from 30,000 to 16,000, with construction beginning in September 2015.

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uk foreign aid boris johnson

Boris Johnson and his government are coming under huge pressure to slash or even scrap the UK’s foreign aid budget (Image: GETTY)

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Priti Pate, who was International Development Secretary at the time, was never told about the problems (Image: PA)

In October 2016, Halcrow Pakistan, a civil engineering firm hired by DFID for independent verification, sounded the first alarm British-built classrooms were potentially dangerous.

A Halcrow Pakistan source told The Times: “We confirmed these schools’ structure is unsafe primarily over the weak suggested construction model.”

Another two independent experts raised concerns, with the DFID warned about unsafe buildings, dangers around some building being used and the risk of them collapsing, but the Dfid continued paying IMC as checks continued and since the first warnings were made, nearly 3,000 classrooms have been built.

Priti Patel, who was International Development Secretary at the time, as well as her successors Penny Mordaunt and Rory Stewart, were never told about the problems.

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The earthquake in Kashmir in 2005 killed around 87,000 people (Image: EXPRESS)

Ministers were only alerted to the huge problems in June 2019 when the department had been taken over by current Business Secretary Alok Sharma, as University College London provided DFID with a draft review of design safety.

This sparked a furious response from MPs, leading IMC to assure it had provided children forced out of their classrooms with 541 “high quality tents”.

IMC was always paid – despite the DFID regarding the schools initiative in Pakistan as a “payment by results” programme, according to the Times.

Less than two-thirds of the income (63 percent) was spent on construction, with the remaining 37 percent spent on “technical assistance” such as fees and expenses for IMC staff.

uk foreign aid government

Ministers were only alerted to the huge problems in June 2019 when the department had been taken over by Alok Sharma (Image: GETTY)

IMC insisted the budget reflected the programme’s scale covering 1,300 locations over 130,000 sq km of challenging terrain.

The firm’s managing director Gavin English said: “Many newly constructed buildings develop some cracks, the majority of which are non-structural.

“Building designs were approved by engineering consultants registered with the Pakistan Engineering Council.”

DFID said: “The safety of children is our number one priority. It is completely unacceptable that schools, which UK aid commissioned IMC to build, have not been built to the necessary standards.

“IMC have committed to retrofit unsafe schools and classrooms to ensure these are fit for purpose.”



Trump shock: President’s resorts cost American taxpayers nearly a million in fees

The US President has taken retreats to his resorts and properties throughout his time in office. Since 2017, he has made 500 visits to Trump owned properties. His most recent came today, as he visited the Trump hotel in Washington ahead of the Republican National Convention.

According to federal spending reports, the Trump Organisation cost the US government more than $900,000 through the use of its peroperties and services.

Examples of some of the fees charged by the Trump Organisation to the US government include “furniture removal” and “resort fees”.

In a 2018 visit to Mr Trump’s Turnberry golf course in Scotland, the President charged $1,300 to the secret service to move furniture.

At a property in Las Vegas, he charged Sceret Service agents an extra $29 each when Vice President Mike Pence visited.

The Washington Post, who saw the reports, claimed the agents ended up paying an additional $4,379 to the cost of the bill, which surpassed $20,000.

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More examples came as the Post revealed government documents, which showed the Secret Service booking rooms at a Trump properties when the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr, came to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in its Russia probe.

It resulted in a $3,300 for rooms over two days to protect the President’s son.

Mr Trump has visited his Mar-a-Lago golf course 127 times during his presidency, at more cost to the taxpayer.

A Government Accountability Office report detailed Mr Trump’s golf trips to Mar-a-Lago cost more than $64 million since early 2017.

Judd Deere, a spokesman for the Trump Organisation, also savaged the Post’s report and threatened the reporter behind it.

Mr Deere said: “The Washington Post is blatantly interfering with the business relationships of the Trump Organization, and it must stop.

“Please be advised that we are building up a very large ‘dossier’ on the many false David Fahrenthold and others stories as they are a disgrace to journalism and the American people.”

The spokesman also claimed in February using Trump properties saves the government money, and added: “If they were to go to a hotel across the street, they’d be charging them $500 a night, whereas, you know we charge them, like 50 bucks.”

The controversial report comes ahead of the President’s appearance at the final night of the RNC.

The four day long event has seen his wife Melania Trump and top administration officials savage the Democrats and praise his time in office.

He is expected to attack his Democrat rival Joe Biden, and stake his bid for re-election.

The US election takes place on November 3 this year.



Meghan Markle and Harry 'struggle' to pay back taxpayers for Frogmore after splashing out

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex recently purchased an impressive new home in Santa Barbara, Montecito. The house includes nine bedrooms and 16 bathrooms as well as a guest house, a tea house, a children’s cottage, a full-size tennis court, a lap-lane swimming pool, and an elaborate built-in children’s play-set. However, some experts fear they can’t afford the home along with running costs and repaying taxpayers for the renovations on Frogmore cottage.

The Sussex’ new home is reportedly worth at least $10 million more than what they purchased it for.

According to the Daily Mail, Harry and Meghan have a $9.5million mortgage for their new home.

Moreover, running costs per year on the home will no doubt be extortionate.

The mortgage is estimated to be around $480,000 a year, with property tax at $68,000.

Meghan Markle news: Meghan and Harry may struggle to refund taxpayers for the Frogmore cottage renovations after taking on a huge mortgage for their new home

Meghan Markle news: Meghan and Harry may struggle to refund taxpayers for the Frogmore cottage renov (Image: PA)

Meghan Markle news: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex recently purchased an impressive new home in Santa Barbara, Montecito

Meghan Markle news: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex recently purchased an impressive new home in Santa Barbara, Montecito (Image: SPLASH)

Any staff they might get could cost them $300,000, utilities are $24,000 and security at $3.3million.

Therefore it will cost the pair about $4.4 million just to live, in addition to the money they are paying back British taxpayers for Frogmore Cottage renovations.

Still, with their forthcoming projects, it looks like the duo are unbothered by the eye-watering overhead costs.

“They do have a mortgage, but they see this as their own place, free from relying on anyone else – a proper family home.” an insider explained.

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Meghan Markle news: According to the Daily Mail, Harry and Meghan have a $9.5million mortgage for their new home

Meghan Markle news: According to the Daily Mail, Harry and Meghan have a $9.5million mortgage for their new home (Image: SAVETHECHILDREN)

Royal finance expert David McClure seemed sceptical of their purchase of such an expensive property in an interview with The Sun.

He said: “I am surprised they can afford it all.

“They must start making money quickly.”

Meghan is said to have amassed £3.8m in her acting career while Harry’s £19.2 million comprises of an inheritance from Princess Diana and an annual allowance from Prince Charles.

Meghan Markle news: The mortgage is estimated to be around $480,000 a year, with property tax at $68,000

Meghan Markle news: The mortgage is estimated to be around $480,000 a year, with property tax at $68,000 (Image: GETTY)

Meghan Markle news: Any staff they might get could cost them $300,000, utilities are $24,000 and security at $3.3million

Meghan Markle news: Any staff they might get could cost them $300,000, utilities are $24,000 and security at $3.3million (Image: GETTY)

This sparks further speculation that Prince Charles will foot the bill for the luxurious home.

Since moving to north America, the Duke is known to have undertaken just one paid for appearance.

Harry appeared at a star-studded JP Morgan summit in Miami in February.

He is said to have earned around £700,000 for his address.

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Royal Family tree

Royal Family tree (Image: EXPRESS)

Papers from their now in liquidation Sussex Royal Foundation showed it was owed £200,000 from an unknown source.

Harry and Meghan’s new home is located on a private road in a luxury and secluded estate in Montecito.

The property is around a two-hour drive from downtown Los Angeles.

Almost every house in the multi-million-pound neighbourhood is designed for privacy, with long driveways and large gates.

Meghan Markle news: Since moving to north America, the Duke is known to have undertaken just one paid for appearance

Meghan Markle news: Since moving to north America, the Duke is known to have undertaken just one paid for appearance (Image: GETTY)

Neighbours include Orpah, Ellen DeGeneres, Tom Cruise, Jennifer Lopez, Steven Spielberg, Whoopi Goldberg and Kevin Costner who all live close by.

Speaking to Page Six about the couple’s decision to buy a home, a source said they moved in last month.

They said: “Harry and Meghan have been quietly living in their own home in Santa Barbara since early July.

“They are not houseguests of Oprah or anyone else, they bought this home themselves. This is where they want to continue their lives after leaving the UK.”



Meghan and Harry ‘fully expected’ UK taxpayers to cover security as £11m mansion unveiled

Meghan and Harry purchased a new mansion in Santa Barbara, California, last month. It was reportedly on the market for $34million (£26million) but the couple bought it for $14.7million (£11million), with the help of a $9.5million (£7.3million) mortgage. Assuming they will be using the typical interest rates of Bank of America, they will have to pay approximately $480,000 (£367,500) per year to repay the mortgage across 30 years.

The couple’s finances have been a major source of speculation since they left the Royal Family’s frontline earlier this year in a quest to go “financially independent”.

It is understood that Prince Charles promised to support the Sussexes for their first year of “independence” as they will no longer receive public funds for royal duties.

Many royal fans are therefore surprised at the couples’ decision to purchase such a luxurious mansion.

After the taxpayer forked out £2.4million for the couple to renovate their home in Windsor, Frogmore Cottage, shortly after their marriage, royal fans were also furious at the thought they might have to cover the Sussexes’ large security bill — especially since they were now living abroad.

However, according to reports from earlier this year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex only agreed to start paying off their £2.4million bill after Charles’ agreed to cover their security costs.

A source explained: “They had fully expected that British taxpayers would continue to foot the bill for their protection.

“But then the rug was pulled from under their feet, and they had to ask Prince Charles to step in.”

They were unexpectedly left without the support of the Metropolitan Police security team when they decided to move to the US.

Harry reportedly thought “up until the very last minute” that he could keep the security team because of his place in the line of succession and as a former frontline Army officer.

READ MORE: Andrew ‘given exact same treatment as Harry and Meghan’

He is sixth-in-line to the throne while his one-year-old son Archie is seventh, and this has not changed despite the Sussexes’ decision to leave the royal fold.

Harry also spent a decade serving the Army before stepping down in 2015 to focus on his royal duties.

The couple have struggled to find a suitable financial arrangement in recent months which could support them now they are no longer under the Royal Family’s wing.

While they have recently signed with the same high-profile public speaking agency as Barack and Michelle Obama, their future sources of income are yet to be revealed.

Canada — where the couple initially settled after their decision to leave the Royal Family — refused to cover the cost of their security now they were no longer working royals.

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It is estimated that it would cost £4million for the Sussexes to hire private security guards for round-the-clock protection.

They were only able to pay back the renovation costs of Frogmore Cottage if Charles intervened with the security costs.

A source told the Daily Mail: “That’s the reason why they are now able to start paying back the Queen and the Crown Estate who met the cost of the building work out of public funds.”

A friend also told the newspaper: “They felt that Frogmore and the money spent on it was no different from many other arrangements involving the main home of a member of the Royal Family.

“But because it was Harry and Meghan, it was always being used as a stick to beat them with.

“Paying back the money was one of the first decisions they took.

“They knew that if they didn’t, no one would have the right to do that anymore.”

The Mail then claimed the couple are paying £18,000 a month in rent and renovation costs for Frogmore Cottage.



Boris urged to call off search for £100k press spokesperson – 'Waste of taxpayers money!'

Last night it emerged Boris Johnson is on the hunt for a new spokesperson to lead televised press briefings. The role, which is likely to come with a salary of more than £100,000-a-year, was posted on the Conservative Party’s LinkedIn page.

The advertisement said the successful candidate will represent the Government and Mr Johnson to “an audience of millions on a daily basis, across the main broadcast channels and social media, and to have the chance to influence and shape public opinion”.

In response to the new job posting, Express.co.uk asked readers whether they thought the role was necessary.

The poll, carried out from 2pm-9pm on July 29, asked: “Should Boris Johnson hire a £100k spokesperson to deliver daily Downing Street press briefings?”

The vast majority of the 2,619 respondents thought the role was not needed, with 84 percent (2,162 people) voting “no”.

Just 15 percent (430 people) voted “yes”, with less than one percent (26 people) opting for “don’t know”.

Readers took to the comments to justify why they thought the Prime Minister should scrap the job, with many saying Mr Johnson should host the briefings himself.

One reader said: “The art of being a good Prime Minister is to be able to address the nation.

“We are not Americans, we are British and we want a strong British Prime Minister.”

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Another wrote: “That is the job he was voted in to do! we don’t need Puppets, certainly not expensive Puppets.”

One reader simply branded it “an expensive PR stunt”.

Many users even suggested Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage would be perfect for the job.

One person wrote: “Great idea, Boris, hire Farage.”

Another said: “Nigel Farage. Obvious ain’t it?”

The successful applicant is likely to be an experienced broadcaster, with the job description stating essential skills include “excellent risk management and crisis communication skills”.

Applications close on August 31 with the briefings understood to begin in October.



EU rejected: Scottish taxpayers to no longer foot cost of free uni tuition for EU students

Richard Lochhead MSP, Scotland’s higher education minister said the SNP led administration would save £19million a year. It comes after SNP MSP Alex Neil said the country could no longer afford the subsidy for “rich EU kids” at the “expense of our own kids.”

Currently, EU law states the government’s free tuition fee policy for Scots requires EU students to be treated the same.

But after the Brexit transition period, the Scottish Government will no longer be obliged to cover the cost for students from EU nations.

However, students already in university, or starting this autumn, will continue to be exempt from fees for the duration of their course.

Speaking in Holyrood this afternoon, Mr Lochhead said the money saved will go towards encouraging more Scottish students into university.

Overseas students attending university in Scotland currently have to pay fees ranging from £9,000 to more than £31,000 per year.

Figures show that more than 21,500 EU students studied at Scottish universities in the 2018/19 academic year, with 15,300 students receiving government funding while the cost of providing funded places to EU students was around £97m.

Mr Lochhead said in Holyrood this afternoon: “It’s with a heavy heart that we have taken a difficult decision to end free education for new EU students from the academic year 2021-2022 onwards, as a direct consequence of Brexit.”

Mr Lochhead said the Government from the money it saves will also seek to create an “ambitious scholarship programme to ensure the ancient European nation of Scotland continues to attract significant numbers of European students to study here”.

READ MORE: Sturgeon humiliated: Rees-Mogg says independent Scotland bankrupt

“While UCAS figures indicate that international student applications are up, it’s not good enough for the Scottish government to cross their fingers and hope that they appear despite all the uncertainties around COVID-19 and a second wave of cases.

“Without a contingency plan for our universities, it leaves yet more uncertainty for the sector.”

Professor Andrea Nolan, convener of Universities Scotland, said it is “reassuring” the money saved will remain in the sector.

Professor Nolan said it provided an opportunity “to fully-fund the undergraduate education of Scottish students and shift the public funding of degree places on to solid ground for the first time in years”.

However, she stressed that a move to international fee status for EU students from 2021 represents a big change to policy and funding at “a challenging time for higher education”.

Scottish Funding Council (SFC) data also showed Universities face a loss of around £72m due to COVID-19 in the 2020/21 academic year.

They are expected to suffer a collective operating deficit of between £384m and £651m.



The Trump administration just lent $700 million to a trucking company sued for ripping off taxpayers

That’s an enormous sum for a company whose stock had plunged 27% this year and was worth only $70 million as of Tuesday’s close. And here’s the kicker: The government sued YRC for ripping it off.

Long-term competitive problems had taken the company’s stock down 85% over the last five years. But shares of YRC (YRCW) shot up 60% in early trading on the news of the bailout.

US taxpayers will end up owning 30% of the company’s stock as part of the loan agreement.

The loan is not part of the federal CARES Act meant to help small businesses. Instead, it is meant to provide help to businesses critical to national security. Treasury’s statement said the loan was justified by the fact that the company provides a majority of the trucking services moving pallet-sized shipments of freight for the US military, a segment of the industry known as “less-than-truckload” or LTL.

“Treasury’s determination was based on a certification by the Secretary of Defense that YRC is critical to maintaining national security,” said Treasury in its statement.

But according to a recent filing by YRC, it is in the process of being sued by the Defense Department.

The suit, filed in December of 2018, alleges YRC overcharged the Defense Department as well as failing to comply with the contract terms and related government procurement rules, along with unjust enrichment and breach of contract, according to YRC’s filing. YRC has filed a motion seeking to dismiss the complaint and it said in intends to vigorously defend itself.

The civil complaint charges that YRC “reweighed thousands of shipments and suppressed the results whenever they indicated that a shipment was actually lighter than its original estimated weight.” The suit said the practice went on for seven years and cost the Defense Department millions of dollars.

“This case should serve as a warning to any organization that enters into a contract with the federal government — if you try to rip us off, be prepared to pay a heavy price,” said US Attorney James Kennedy in a statement at the time the suit was filed.

The Treasury Department did not respond Wednesday morning to a request for comment on the suit. YRC said the suit, is “a contractual dispute which originated in 2009 and predates the current board and CEO by more than a decade.”

“A motion for dismissal has been pending for 10 months,” the company said. “There has been no impact on the Department of Defense relationship.”

YRC warned in May that there was “substantial doubt” about its ability to stay in business without either federal help or a “meaningful stabilization of the economy in the near term.” On June 9, YRC warned that its per-day shipments were down 20% in the quarter, and the rates it was receiving per pound of freight moved were down 6%, compared to a year earlier.

The company has 30,000 employees, of whom 24,000 are represented by the Teamsters union. About half the loan money will be used to cover short-term contractual obligations, including pension and healthcare benefits. The loan will be due in 2024.

Many small business owners worry a second shutdown would be devastating

The Teamster-represented companies once dominated the trucking industry, especially the LTL sector. But with higher labor costs they have lost market share continually over the course of recent decades. It has posted a profit in only three of the last 13 years, and it lost more than $3 billion in total during that period.

YRC was formed through the merger of several of those unionized carriers, including Yellow Freight and Roadway, in 2003. It operates under the brands Holland, New Penn, Reddaway, and YRC Freight.

“Our 30,000 employees have continued to serve hundreds of quarantined communities across the country during the pandemic and this financial assistance will enable us to bridge this pandemic-related crisis and continue to provide essential shipping services for the nation’s supply chain,” said CEO Darren Hawkins in a statement about the loan.

The loan was also praised by James Hoffa, general president of the Teamsters union, who thanked President Donald Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Congress for the assistance.

“They recognized the urgency and acted swiftly to avoid our members’ health benefits from being cut and, in the long term, to protect 24,000 Teamster jobs,” he said in his statement.

Boris Johnson refuses EU coronavirus cash – despite UK taxpayers paying to prop up bloc

Boris Johnson could have claimed from the £727 million pot to spend on supporting the NHS throughout the pandemic. The Brussels fund, originally established to offer support after natural disasters, such as earthquakes or flooding, was extended to cover the health emergency. The scheme was proposed to help member states to pay for much-needed personal protective equipment, development of vaccines or medicines and even public health checks.

The EU’s richest states, including France, Germany and Italy, as well as accession candidate Albania all applied to access funds.

In total, the European Commission received 22 applications from member states and accession candidates.

Under the Prime Minister’s EU Withdrawal Agreement, the UK agreed to finance its existing obligations to the bloc’s budget for 2020 – including the EU Solidarity Fund.

A Government request for cash could have helped claw back much of the estimated £87 million paid into the fund by UK taxpayers.

A Government spokeswoman said: “The UK Government has not made any applications to the EU Solidarity Fund in response to COVID-19.”

Downing Street has remained resolute that it would not apply for EU grants after taking the country out of the bloc earlier this year.

No10’s stance comes despite Britain remaining applicable for funding under the terms of the post-Brexit transition period.

UK officials have argued that the Solidarity Fund does not offer practical public healthcare support and was only set up to provide financial aid.

Former Brexit Party MEP Rupert Lowe said Leavers would have no problem with Mr Johnson reclaiming taxpayers’ cash from Brussels.

Mr Lowe said: “As it stands in transition we currently have the worst of both worlds. Fully paying members, but with no influence whatsoever. We pay millions of pounds every day and get a minuscule amount of that back.

“I see no issue in reclaiming British taxpayers’ money to help the country recover. Let the loony Remainers moan about it. They will continue to play politics, but we need to focus on getting the country back on its feet.”

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The Office of Budget Responsibility has claimed the final bill could be as much as £298 billion for the financial year between April 2020 and April 2021.

Before the crisis, the Government was expecting to borrow around £55 billion.

And Mr Johnson will vow to continue spending to ensure those who were hit hardest by austerity will not be made to pay for repairing the UK’s coronavirus-stricken economy.

The Prime Minister will on Tuesday deliver an address to reset the agenda for the country.

He will promise to usher in a “decade of investment”, setting out a recovery plan that will bring forward infrastructure spending and speed up the planning system.