The National Audit Office (NAO) claims the speed at which the furlough scheme was rolled out leaves it open to considerable levels of fraud and error.

It said there is considerable risk that some employers committed furlough fraud, either by keeping employees working during lockdown or not passing on payments to workers.

Almost one in ten (9%) people the NAO surveyed admitted to working in lockdown at the request of their employer.

This is against the rules of the scheme, although employees may not have been aware that their employer was claiming support through the furlough scheme.

In September 2020, HMRC’s assumption was that furlough fraud and error could range from 5-10%, which would equate to £2 billion to £3.9bn.

HMRC’s fraud hotline also received more than 10,000 ‘whistleblowing’ reports, with many referring to cases where employees worked despite their employer claiming for them as furloughed staff.

Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, said:

“It appears that the scale of fraud and error could be considerable, particularly for the furlough scheme.

“HMRC could have done more to make clear to employees whether their employer was part of the furlough scheme.”

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