HMRC has announced that it will recover over £1 billion in fraudulently claimed furlough funds over the next two years.
UK employers have claimed more than £60 billion in furlough funds since the introduction of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) in March 2020. The CJRS was extended in the 2021 Budget until 30 September.
Data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently revealed 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 a handful of 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.’
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