Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: Fraud

Treasury written question – answered on 10th September 2020.

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Photo of Carla Lockhart Carla Lockhart DUP, Upper Bann

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many companies have been investigated for (a) employees continuing to work while placed on furlough and (b) other instances of misuse of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

HMRC were not legally allowed to carry out investigations into suspected CJRS fraud until the Finance Bill was granted Royal Assent. Before then, HMRC carried out more than 5,000 targeted calls to high-risk cases, in order to reduce the chance of further error and make clear that HMRC would be investigating excessive claims.

The Finance Act was granted Royal Assent on 22 July. The Finance Act gives employers a 90-day window to correct claims. HMRC are writing to every employer where HMRC have clear evidence that they may have overclaimed from the data HMRC hold. By the end of November, HMRC will have written to about 27,000 people prompting them to use the opportunity to self-correct. Starting this month, HMRC will also conduct up to 10,000 one-to-one interventions. This will include cases where HMRC have received information through their fraud hotlines. HMRC’s priorities are to support those correcting a genuine error, while taking action against those who have deliberately sought to abuse the scheme

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