It has been reported that MPs are urging the Government to release a full list which outlines all the companies who have signed up for the furlough scheme. This comes after previous research finds that around 10 per cent of all furlough claims could be fraudulent or made in error.
MPs are pushing the Government to release the full list of companies who have signed up for the furlough scheme in a bid to limit fraud linked to these payments.
Specifically, the Public Accounts Committee have urged the Government to provide these details after previous research conducted by this group found that there was “significant fraud and error in the furlough scheme”.
Within this report, the Public Accounts Committee found that up to £3.5 billion could be lost due to fraudulent payments or made in error – an estimated 10 per cent of all the claims made.
It further found that ‘opportunistic fraud’, describing furloughed staff who are forced to continue to work by their boss, could be anywhere between 7 and 34 per cent of cases. The Government’s hotline set up to combat this furlough fraud has received around 20,000 tips since it was set up.
Due to this, the Public Accounts Committee has asked for a list of all the companies signed up to the furlough scheme to be published at the end of January 2021. Additionally, the Committee have also called on the Government and HMRC to provide further help to those who have been excluded from the furlough scheme or the SEISS (self-employed income support scheme) which is predicted to be around 2.9 million people.
As of this current date, over nine million workers have been paid through the furlough scheme which has cost the Government around £46 billion in total.
This demand for transparency comes after Chancellor Rishi Sunak extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until the end of April 2021. Prior to this, it was initially expected to conclude at the end of March.
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has since stated that this extension means that around £21 billion of tax-payers money will be used to fund the furlough scheme until the new end date.
The Public Accounts Committee said in a statement:
HM Treasury and HMRC should investigate whether more data within and outside of the tax system could be used to determine eligibility for currently excluded groups and write to the committee within six weeks to explain their findings.
Many workers including freelancers and entrepreneurs have not had a penny and are really struggling as they continue to fall through the gaps.
A Government spokesperson responded:
The furlough scheme has saved millions of jobs and kept businesses in operation. We will consider carefully the findings and recommendations of the PAC (Public Accounts Committee) report and respond in due course.