Last year, the government introduced the official Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to offer support for those businesses who have been forced to close during the pandemic. The scheme allows for employers to claim for 80% of employee’s wages for hours not worked.
From July 2021, employers will be required to contribute towards their employees wages under the scheme. Employers will need to contribute 10% for hours not worked in July, raising to 20% in August and September.
The furlough scheme has been extended several times over the past year however, the scheme is expected to come to an end in September 2021.
According to recent figures, as of March 2021, the government had spent £57.7 billion on claims under the furlough scheme.
Whilst the scheme has provided a lifeline for many businesses and employees, there has been instances where people have exploited the scheme. As of March 2021, HMRC had received over 26,000 reports of suspected furlough fraud.
Earlier this month, HMRC launched a new taskforce of 1,250 staff to investigate fraudulent furlough claims. Investigators will be cross-referencing claims under the furlough scheme with other records, such as the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
HMRC has already opened 10,000 inquiries into potentially fraudulent furlough claims.
As part of HMRC’s investigations, a number of businesses have been found to have higher sales than before the pandemic began, even with claims that staff were furloughed. HMRC also found that some businesses had claimed to be closed during the pandemic, with staff being placed on furlough, only to find online reviews for takeaway orders.
HMRC have urged businesses to check their claims to ensure they are accurate. Research has found that of those mid-sized businesses using the scheme, around 16% have not reviewed their initial claim.
Of those businesses who have reviewed their initial furlough claim (83%), around 13% found errors which required correcting.
The reputational damage from misusing the scheme can be significant. It is therefore essential that businesses document the review of the claim to show their compliance.
At STS (Europe) we can offer help and advice for your business to ensure you are meeting the requirements of the furlough scheme and not committing any acts of fraud. If you suspect you have falsely claimed under the furlough scheme or Eat Out to Help Out scheme, our experts can guide you through the process and make disclosures to HMRC on your behalf.
For more information on how we can help you, get in touch with us today via our contact page or give us a call on 01704 891676.