HMRC fails to tackle £2.3 billion furlough fraud

14 Mar 2023

HMRC's failure to tackle an estimated £2.3 billion in furlough fraud has been criticised by MPs.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said that the levels of unrecovered error and fraud were 'far too high'. By March 2022, HMRC's compliance activity targeting employers claiming furlough recovered only £640,000.

This was from an approximate £2.3 billion incorrectly paid to employers claiming furlough for employees who continued to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

HMRC distributed £68.9 billion in furlough payments to 1.3 million people during the pandemic.

Both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) were set up too quickly in March 2020, MPs said.

Dame Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the PAC, said: 'Bad actors in British business are running rings around the Revenue.

'While the money that genuinely saved jobs and households was released admirably quickly, the weak recovery effort will fail to deter potential future criminals. Too many companies claimed that shouldn't have and now won't give it back.'