In a parliamentary response to a question from the DUPs Mr Gregory Campbell asking for information on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), the Treasury Minister Jesse Norman has confirmed that 1.3 million UK employers have used the furlough scheme to protect jobs.
He also confirmed that HMRC have opened 6,150 inquiries into suspected overpayments due to error or fraud as of 30th June 2021.
These refer to cases open where HMRC believe there has been fraud or an error which requires intervention.
The majority of employers will have tried to do the right thing by their employees and the country in saving jobs.
However, the scheme rules have been viewed as complex open to misinterpretation and calculation error. Claim deadlines have made data collection a challenge in reconciling plans versus reality.
Then there are complexities in modern reward practice that do not align well with furlough rules. For example, furlough pay (80%) is post salary sacrifice. Some employers may not have realised that they cannot reduce furlough down to fund Childcare Vouchers, cycle to work schemes, and smart pension contributions!
And then there are those who were out to defraud the system, insisting that employees worked during parts of furlough periods, claiming 80% pay coverage for what would be fully an employer obligation to pay wages.
Some employers have paid back furlough grant claims either because they were not impacted by the pandemic, and other to prevent investigation of wrong doing.