In his budget on the 3rd of March 2021 RIshi Sunak announced the creation of a new Taxpayer Protection Taskforce to look into misclaimed Covid 19 support. The budget documents say:
Combatting COVID-19 fraud – The government will invest over £100 million in a Taxpayer Protection Taskforce of 1,265 HMRC staff to combat fraud within COVID-19 support packages, including the CJRS and SEISS, representing one of the largest responses to a fraud risk by HMRC. In addition, the government will raise awareness of enforcement action in order to deter fraud, and will significantly strengthen law enforcement for Bounce Back Loans.
The National Audit Office produced a report in October 2020 that estimated that between 5% and 10% of all CJRS (furlough) claims could be fraudulent along with 1%-2% of claims under the SEISS (self employed scheme). In another report produced by the Public Accounts Committee MPs warned that up to £26 billion of the Bounce Back Loans was at risk through fraud or Companies not being able to pay them back.
Whilst there are few details available of when this new taskforce will swing into action it is imperative that if Individuals or Companies think that they have claimed wrongly that they get ahead of the game and contact the HMRC or their bank in advance of any action taken against them. This will ensure that penalties are reduced, potentially to zero.
If you would like any assistance in checking any claims that you have made please do not hesitate to contact us here.