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Hundreds of workers report employers for furlough fraud

HMRC confirmed it has received 795 reports of potential frauds related to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

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HMRC said it has received 795 reports of potential fraud related to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Mike Egerton/PA)

HMRC said it has received 795 reports of potential fraud related to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Mike Egerton/PA)

HMRC said it has received 795 reports of potential fraud related to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Mike Egerton/PA)

Hundreds of workers have reported their employers over claims that they are fraudulently taking furlough money from the Government.

HMRC confirmed it has received 795 reports of potential fraud related to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

It said it will now be “assessing” these cases in line with its usual procedures.

The scheme was introduced from March, with the Government pledging to pay 80% of the wages of workers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, in a bid to protect jobs.

On Tuesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak outlined plans to extend the furlough scheme until the end of October.

One stipulation of the scheme is that workers must not complete any work at all for their organisations to be eligible for the pay-out.

Bosses at whistleblower support organisations told Sky News that many workers are scared to report employers who are asking them to continue to work despite claiming furlough support.

Liz Gardiner, chief executive of Protect, said: “We expect this is just the tip of the iceberg.

“In this time of unprecedented change, when people are really worried about their jobs, it’s a really difficult thing to stand up and say ‘I think you’re committing fraud, employer, and I’m going to report you’.”

Latest figures show that 7.5 million jobs have been furloughed since the scheme was launched, with 935,000 employers choosing to furlough staff.

An HMRC spokesperson said: “The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is part of the collective national effort to protect jobs.

“This is taxpayers’ money and fraudulent claims limit our ability to support people and deprive the NHS of essential funding.

“We’d ask anyone concerned that their employer might be abusing the scheme to please contact us.

“It could be that you’re not being paid what you’re entitled to, they might be asking you to work while you’re on furlough, or they may have claimed for times when you were working.

“To date we have received 795 reports of potential concerns from the public, but until they are corroborated, we cannot assume that they represent actual fraud or wrongdoing.

“Reports can be submitted to us entirely anonymously and everything we receive is assessed and a decision made on the most appropriate course of action.

“We’re not trying to catch people out – if it turns out to be a genuine mistake then we’ll help put it right, and if it’s more serious then we’ll step in.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) threatened to come down hard on firms which break coronavirus safety rules as some people begin to return to work this week.

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