HMRC designed the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), The Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) and the Eat Out To Help Out Scheme (EOTHO) to prevent fraud and error, both in the eligibility criteria and the claim process itself whilst making sure the grant payments reached claimants as quickly as possible. HMRC also put in place a series of checks on claims before they were paid, so they blocked those that were highly indicative of criminal activity.
Anyone who keeps grant money despite knowing they were not entitled to it, faces having to repay up to double the amount they received, plus interest and potentially criminal prosecution.
At Spring Budget 2021 the Government announced a £100m investment into the Taxpayer Protection Taskforce. The taskforce was established to extend HMRC’s work to tackle fraud and error in the COVID support schemes that they administered (CJRS, SEISS and EOTHO). The taskforce does not address compliance risks in schemes that have been administered outside HMRC.
Up to the end of March 2021, over 12,000 compliance checks had been carried out, this was prior to the formation of the Taxpayer Protection Taskforce.
Further information on the number of compliance checks carried out and taskforce performance for 21/22 is covered in HMRC’s Annual Report and Accounts (AR&A) for 21/22 and will be published before recess.
HMRC expects to publish its 2022-23 Annual Report & Accounts in Summer 2023.