Rishi Sunak dealt devastating blow as furlough fraud costs taxpayer eye-watering £5bn

Rishi Sunak urges businesses to use furlough correctly

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

And one legal expert warned swindlers they can expect a knock at the door as the Government seeks to claw back as much cash as possible. The figures, published by HMRC on Thursday, further reveal criminal gangs syphoned off almost £350million with a wide range of scams which targeted the furlough scheme, Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, and even Eat Out to Help Out.

In total, the Government recorded a 4.4 percent decline in tax revenues over the latest financial year as a result of the pandemic.

In total, just over £4.967billion has been lost to fraudsters, £4.4billion of which was via Rishi Sunak’s vaunted furlough scheme, also known as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Another £492.5million was stolen via the Self-Employment scheme, and a further £58.5million via Eat Out To Help Out.

The organised crime element was £207million, £137.9million and £5.09million respectively.

Commenting, Steven Porter, Partner at multinational law firm Pinsent Masons, said: “It is now clear that HMRC’s Covid support schemes presented an opportunity for many fraudsters.

“While clearly necessary to support the economy during the pandemic and a vital lifeline for many, they have also proven too easy for criminals to exploit.”

He added: “HMRC will now be hunting down those who made fraudulent claims, particularly through the Fraud Investigation Service.

“There will be a wave of civil and criminal penalties, including prison sentences.”

An HMT Spokesman said: “We introduced our unprecedented Covid support schemes at speed to protect jobs and livelihoods – helping millions of people across the UK, including nearly 12 million on the furlough scheme alone.

“As a result of our action the economy is growing, more employees are on payrolls than ever before and unemployment has fallen for eight months in a row.”

They added: “We’ve been clear fraud is unacceptable and are taking action against those abusing the system – with 150,000 ineligible claims blocked, £500million recovered last year and the HRMC Taxpayer Protection Taskforce is expected to recover an additional £1billion of taxpayers money.”

Some employers are likely to have made mistakes and those who have are being invited to come forward to correct their claims.

(More to follow)

Source: Read Full Article