HMRC has announced that it will recover over £1 billion in fraudulently claimed furlough cash over the next two years.
More than £60 billion has been claimed in furlough funds by UK employers since the introduction of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) in March 2020. The CJRS was extended in the 2021 Budget until 30 September.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently published data revealing that workers in the hospitality sector were most likely to still be on furlough. At peak use of the CJRS, 91% of pub and bar staff were furloughed.
HMRC stated that it intends to launch criminal investigations into suspected cases of serious CJRS fraud.
A spokesperson for HMRC said: ‘The CJRS has provided a lifeline to millions of people across the UK and fraudulent claims are unacceptable. It is taxpayers’ money and fraud limits our ability to support people and deprives public services of essential funding.
‘We’d ask anyone concerned that an employer might be abusing the scheme, or anyone with information about suspected fraud, to please contact us. All information is assessed and the most appropriate course of action taken.’
“HMRCs approach to fraudulent furlough claims is likely to be carried over to the other grants and schemes offered to businesses/people throughout COVID-19. HMRC have outlined that any SEISS grants that were claimed in error must be paid back. It is safe to assume that if people do not report their errors, investigations will take place and penalties will be issued.”Nigel Holland