To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what meetings Ministers and officials in his Department held with stakeholders on the £4.3 million lost to fraudulent covid-19 claims; and who was in attendance at those meetings.
23 February 2022
The £4.3 billion figure that has been widely reported is not a figure produced or recognised by HMRC or HMT. HM Treasury works closely with HMRC to ensure a robust approach to error and fraud within the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, and Eat Out to Help Out, and the Government remains committed to cracking down on fraud wherever it arises.
Within the unprecedented £400 billion package of support, the Government put robust measures in place to control error and fraud in the key pandemic support schemes. By building automated controls into the digital claim process, HMRC prevented more than 100,000 ineligible or mistaken claims in these schemes. At the March 2021 Budget, the Government invested over £100 million in a Taxpayer Protection Taskforce. The taskforce is expected to recover £800 million to £1 billion from fraudulent or incorrect payments over the next two years. This is in addition to the £536 million already recovered by HMRC in 2020-21. After this point, HMRC will continue to address fraud in the schemes through wider compliance activity.
The Government designed these schemes to prevent as much fraud as possible before any payments were made, while still supporting those who needed it as quickly as possible in unprecedented circumstances. As a result, the economy is back to pre-pandemic levels and growing at the fastest rate in the G7.