Figures show that almost 2,000 allegations of furlough fraud have been made by whistleblowers against employers, with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) expected to impose steep penalties on businesses and directors found to have abused the scheme.
Such claims come in several forms, including requiring furloughed employees to work, failing to pass the full value of the grant to the employee and backdating claims to include periods when the employee was, in fact, working.
Draft legislation published by the tax authority indicates that retrospective auditing of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be rigorous with severe penalties for employers found to be in breach of the rules.
The proposed legislation provides for HMRC to raise Income Tax assessments to recover amounts wrongly claimed from the scheme and to charge penalties in instances of deliberate wrongdoing.
Significantly, the legislation also contains provisions for holding company directors jointly and severally liable for any breaches.