HMRC Investigation
3 August 2021 | Business, News

HMRC Investigating 13,000 Companies Over COVID19 Support Schemes

HM Revenue & Customs has opened around 13,000 investigations into abuse of the various COVID19 support schemes.  A Freedom of Information request made by law firm BLM, shows that HMRC is looking into approximately 7,400 potential abuses of the furlough scheme, 5,000 of the SEISS programme, and 420 of the “eat out to help out” initiative.

The investigations have been opened to protect and recover funds that were lost to tax or fraud evasion/avoidance.  A spokesperson at HMRC commented, “It is vital we support businesses to recover by ensuring a level playing field so the majority are not undercut by the few who tried to cheat the system.”  Rishi Sunak has also announced funding of £100m to combat fraud across the COVID19 support schemes.

It’s possible that the government is looking at potential losses in the billions of pounds as a result of fraudulent activity.  While it may be some time before we see cases appearing in court, it is a case of when, rather than if, those cases are brought to trial.  So far, five individuals have been arrested in connection with misuse of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and three connected with the eat out to help out scheme.

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