When Rishi Sunak announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, or Furlough Scheme, it was always extremely likely that any claim would be investigated. It seems that process has started!
A business owner in Solihull was arrested recently over allegations that he had fraudulently claimed £495,000 through the scheme. Computers were seized and business bank accounts frozen while HMRC investigate.
Richard Las, of HMRC’s fraud investigation service, said: ‘The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is part of the collective national effort to protect jobs. The vast majority of employers will have used the CJRS responsibly, but we will not hesitate to act on reports of abuse of the scheme.’
Throughout the time the scheme has been running, we’ve been warning clients that investigations are extremely likely.
Given that the Government has so far paid out more than £27 billion through the scheme, it was always going to happen!
- Please make sure that you retain all of your records for any claim.
- Be sure too that you understand the claims that are being submitted on your behalf if you use a payroll agency, and that you’re happy that those submissions are entirely accurate.
- Remember that when an employee is Furloughed, they cannot do any work for the business. If they are brought back on a part-time basis, they can only work for the hours declared. There is an anonymous online fraud reporting portal on the gov.uk website that is very busy. So far, 34% of employee who were furloughed have reported that they were asked to do some work during that time. Don’t be an employer who gets caught out!
If it’s found that a business has overclaimed under the Furlough scheme, a penalty of up to 100% of the original claim amount can be charged. This would be in addition to the claw back of the original amount paid.
If you’re a client of ours, bear in mind that membership of our Fee Protection Scheme is automatically included in your service package. That means that if you have any questions from HMRC, you can refer them straight to us, which reduces the distraction to you. We’ll be a little limited in terms of detail that we can provide, as we won’t have produced the payroll figures, but are happy to help.
It is highly likely that any claims submitted for any of the Coronavirus support available from the Government will be checked at some point in the future, so please be sure that you are only claiming in accordance with the guidance.
If you’re in any way unsure, please double check with us before your claim is submitted.