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Fraud & The End of Furlough

The end of this month sees the end of the Furlough scheme. Technically known as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) it was created in March 2020 and was initially only intended to be in place for a short period. But as we all know, the pandemic has lasted much longer than was originally envisaged. The scheme has been extended on several occasions at the last minute, so at the time of writing, it is expected to finish on 30th September.

The funding from the government finishes at the end of September so employers are advised to make sure that they get their claims submitted in accordance with HMRC’s published timetable. However, it will not stop their investigators looking into allegations of fraud.

Because it was a completely new scheme, many employers may have misunderstood the rules (though there have also been unscrupulous employers who have misused the scheme to their advantage.) It is estimated that up to £3.5bn has been fraudulently claimed or paid in error leading HMRC to indicate its intent to investigate all wrongful payments and prosecute those they believe have committed fraud.

So, if you believe that you may have accidentally received more funding that you should have done, it is important to ensure that you tell them about any mistakes before they discover them.

The sort of things you should look for are:

• Continuing to claim for an employee who has left;

• Claiming for an employee on furlough, but whom you required to continue to work as normal (perhaps they were furloughed initially, but you forgot to stop the claim when they returned to work or were flexi-furloughed);

• Making claims that did not accurately reflect the hours an employee has worked – this may have occurred as a result of flexi-furlough and changes of days/ hours worked.

If you have concerns about any of this, please seek advice and review the claims with your payroll provider.
Posted on 07 Sep 2021
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