Taxman Expects to Recover Just a Quarter of Covid Fraud Cash mdi-fullscreen

Nearly three years have passed since Rishi first opened the chequebook when Covid hit. Given taxes are now at a 70-year high and there’s another strike every ten minutes, it is worth remembering just how much cash has been lost to fraud and negligence – probably never to be found – since 2020. BEIS’ annual report showed that, of the three main loan schemes available to businesses during the pandemic, the level of “fraud and error” is estimated at 8.4% – or around £985 million. HMRC now say it’s £4.5 billion. The total liabilities for all Covid loan schemes, including for businesses which later went bust, is £15.8 billion

Now the Public Accounts Committee is once again fighting back. Committee Chair Meg Hillier has released an excoriating statement demanding the tax man gets tough, warning HRMC it has a “moral duty” to crack down on fraud and claw back more cash. According to the PAC, HMRC expects to recover just a quarter of Covid fraud losses…  

“…the public purse will continue missing out on billions of desperately needed revenues as HMRC will only employ more staff to tackle compliance over the next few years – not fast enough to dent the tax gap at a time of huge public sector spending pressures. Meanwhile taxpayers battle customer services that need improvement. The PAC has reported on the many problems in the Covid support schemes that made an open goal for fraudsters, but HMRC is settling for trying to recover less than a quarter of estimated losses in schemes such as furlough…”

During the leadership campaign, Rishi’s team claimed the fraud figure was around £7.5 billion, and that the Public Sector Fraud Authority were working around the clock. Given the figure seems to change every five minutes, and their initial target was to recoup a pathetic £180 million in its first year, Guido has serious doubts they’re up to much either. Rishi has been evasive on this issue, making excuses that he had to move at pace. Rishi was warned at the time that better checks needed to be made and the Treasury under him dismissed the warnings…

This hasn’t been made any easier by a tribunal decision last week to keep Covid Bounce Back Loan recipients secret, even though a Times investigation had uncovered dozens of fraudsters using the eye-watering £50,000 grants to “fund gambling sprees, home improvements, cars and watches”. Judge Sophie Buckley claimed the public interest angle was apparently outweighed by the risk that those named in the scheme could themselves be the targets of fraud:

“…overall we take the view that the extremely high public interest in transparency and scrutiny of these schemes is substantially met by other measures which had either taken place or were to take place.”

Bear in mind, the anti-fraud Minister Lord Agnew resigned nearly a year ago over government’s “lamentable track record” over all this. He was never replaced…

mdi-tag-outline Covid-19 Data Guido Fraud
mdi-account-multiple-outline Rishi Sunak
mdi-timer January 11 2023 @ 09:42 mdi-share-variant mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-printer
Home Page Next Story
View Comments