As a result of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the Government introduced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in order to support UK businesses, workers and the economy during the lockdown. The Furlough Scheme enabled employers to claim up to 80% of workers’ salaries from the Government in the event the business did not require the worker due to a temporary closure of the business or a reduction in trade.

As of May 14, 2021, approximately 11.5 million jobs, from 1.3 million different employers were furloughed in the United Kingdom as part of the government’s job retention scheme. The chancellor has extended furlough provisions to cover 80 per cent of people’s salaries until the 30th September 2021.

However, the focus will now be on investigating claims. There have been widespread concerns about furlough fraud. HMRC are set to recover £1bn of fraudulent furlough cash over the next two years.

A recent arrest for furlough fraud involved a man and a woman from West Yorkshire who had been arrested as part of an HM Revenue and Customs investigation into a suspected £3.4m Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) fraud.

The coronavirus crisis continues to put a significant strain on public resources and as a result, there is likely to be little sympathy for companies and individuals that have fraudulently claimed funds. Depending upon the individual circumstances and value of the alleged fraud, a long period of imprisonment is now the likely sentence.

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