Furlough fraud: How to report furlough fraud

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The furlough scheme has been taken up by 9.6 million workers since March with £34.7billion of furlough claims made by August 9. Many companies have been accused of committing furlough fraud after data has found two-thirds of workers carried on with their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic. Express.co.uk has compiled a guide to explain how to report furlough fraud.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was launched by the Government earlier this year in a bid to help employers retain staff amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The furlough scheme was designed to help those who could not do their jobs because of the outbreak and prevent mass redundancies.

Since July, these furloughed employees have been able to go back to work part-time.

For instance, an employer could pay someone to work two days a week with the furlough scheme covering the remaining three days not worked.

Up to 30,000 companies could have committed furlough fraud and wrongfully claimed the Government fund despite being ineligible for it according to the HMRC.

A massive 8,000 complaints were submitted to the tax company which is now sending out 3,000 letters a week to firms that may have broken the rules.

The HMRC believes many businesses have been claiming money and forcing their employees to work anyway, with firms thought to have pocketed the extra cash while continuing their business operations as normal.

The HMRC also believes some firms have inflated the number of employees on their books or how many hours they typically worked to access more money.

The tax company can implement a number of techniques to verify if claims are real or false.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the taxpayers’ alliance, said the scheme should not have enabled this fraud to happen in the first place.

Mr O’Connell told The Sun: “This shows the danger of charging headfirst into a catch-all scheme to pay peoples’ wages, and more of these stories will sadly transpire in the coming months.

“The furlough scheme was the right thing to do at the time, but more oversight should have been built in from the start to prevent this from happening.

“Fraud legislation should be changed to ensure that those who have ripped off taxpayers face the full force of the law and that taxpayers’ cash is fully recovered.”

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Six million workers continued to work during crisis despite claiming furlough money a new report has found.

The study by Oxford, Cambridge and Zurich universities conducted surveys of 9,000 people.

The research found that the ban on working while furloughed was “routinely ignored” with 63 percent of furloughed employees having broken the rules.

The study also found furloughed staff worked an average of 15 hours a week.

In total, a fifth of furloughed employees were instructed to carry on working by their employer.

The report said: “The prohibition of working whilst furloughed was routinely ignored, especially by men who can do a large percentage of their work tasks from home.”

How to report furlough fraud

Furlough fraud has been rising throughout the pandemic with many companies exploiting the scheme and forcing workers to continue to work despite claiming furlough pay for these same workers.

Fraudulent claims to this fund are against the law and the HMRC said it will be punishing those who flout the rules seriously.

There could even be criminal charges on the cards for those who deliberately evade paying attention.

HMRC has an online reporting form here to submit relevant fraud claims only.

If you cannot access the online form, the HMRC is also operating a reduced Fraud Hotline telephone service, open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.

To contact fraud hotline from the UK you should telephone on 0800 788 887 or if you are an international caller you should call on 0203 080 0871.

Due to high demand, it is likely there will be a long wait time for calls to be answered.

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