Coronavirus support scheme fraud – HMRC’s approach

09 November 2021

With many of the government’s coronavirus support schemes ending, it is time for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to assess the impact of fraud within them. HMRC estimate £5.8 billion of the £81.2 billion spent has been lost to fraud, that’s over 7%.

This is in line with the assumptions made by the government at the original planning stage. The schemes were designed to inhibit as much fraud as possible while making the support available quickly to those who needed it. As changes were made, fraud levels fell in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

In a recent publication, HMRC has detailed their approach to error and fraud, including their investment in a Taxpayer Protection Taskforce. This taskforce will aim to increase one-to-one enquiries to 30,000 cases up to 2022-23.

The publication also states “We aim to produce updated error and fraud estimates for CJRS and SEISS by summer 2022. For the CJRS we will do this by conducting a random enquiry programme and gaining operational data from completed compliance interventions. We expect to refine the SEISS estimates when the full year of 2020 to 2021 Self-Assessment data becomes available.”

HMRC provides some examples of compliance action taken to illustrate where they may investigate and the outcomes of those cases.

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