Fraud: Coronavirus

Treasury written question – answered on 13th December 2022.

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Photo of Margaret Hodge Margaret Hodge Labour, Barking

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether protocols have been agreed with (a) his Department, (b) the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, (c) the British Business Bank and (d) commercial lenders on taking steps to pursue fraud in the Government's covid-19 loan schemes.

Photo of Andrew Griffith Andrew Griffith The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

The Government has always been clear that fraud within the Covid-19 loan schemes is unacceptable and that those who have defrauded the government may be subject to both criminal and commercial recovery efforts. We are taking action against those who defrauded the Schemes by working across Government, law enforcement, counter-fraud agencies, and commercial lenders.

Scheme rules, as well as subsequent guidance based on continued engagement with lenders, spell out lenders’ obligations in this regard. Under the Schemes there was a range of checks to minimise fraud upfront, and lenders continue to work closely with government agencies to identify and pursue fraud within the scheme, minimising losses to the taxpayer as far as possible. The BBB's audit programme evaluates the effectiveness of a range of lender processes and procedures. Where issues are identified the BBB can take remedial action with the lender.

As announced in the Spring Statement 2022, the Government is funding this continued counter-fraud action – with £13mn allocated to the National Investigation Service to double their investigative capacity on Bounce Back Loans and fund enforcement activity building on the Cabinet Office data analytics programme, as well as £11mn to the British Business Bank to boost their counter fraud and assurance programme.

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