HMRC reveals only partial details of employers claiming furlough

HMRC tax office in London

The government has been criticised for not releasing full details of employers that have used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

HM Revenue and Customs this week published the names of about 750,000 employers to have accessed the £46.4bn salary scheme in what it said was part of its “commitment to transparency and to deter fraudulent claims”.

But hundreds of thousands of employers who used the scheme before December have not been disclosed.

HMRC said this was because it had been bound by “taxpayer confidentiality” rules but these had since been overridden by new legislation introduced when the furlough scheme was extended.

No information about the value of claims had been published yet because employers have until today to amend their December claims. It added that companies could request that their names not be disclosed and details such as company numbers and figures of how much had been claimed would not be published until next month.

Further names would be published next month, said HMRC, along with the value of claims within a banded range.

Businessman Lord Myners, a former Labour Treasury minister who has been pressing ministers to name companies accessing Covid-19 loans, told The Times: “Getting information from the government of those who have benefited from taxpayer support is like drawing teeth. There is a clear reluctance in government to enlighten the public.”.

HMRC said that publishing the details would deter those employers tempted to make fraudulent claims, because it enabled employees to check whether their employer was claiming for them correctly. However, it did not reveal how many companies had asked for their names not to be published, and said reasons for secrecy include the “risk of violence or intimidation to relevant individuals or people living with them”.

But Meg Hiller, chair of the Commons public accounts committee, joined Myners in criticising what she described as a lack of transparency. She said ministers’ failure to plan for a pandemic had meant the usual controls had been abandoned which had “exposed taxpayers to potentially billions in fraud and error”. She demanded “full transparency, no excuses”.

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One Response to HMRC reveals only partial details of employers claiming furlough

  1. Avatar
    Kate upcraft 29 Jan 2021 at 2:33 pm #

    can we be clear, these are not employers, they are PAYE schemes. An employer can have one PAYE scheme or dozens so this really doesn’t tell us very much. Equally the names attached to a PAYE scheme do not have to reflect the employer, they are simply a name chosen by whoever set the scheme up so they can distinguish which group of employees it refers to, so you may have a scheme name that says ‘xx monthly payroll’ and another that says ‘xx weekly payroll’ and the name may not reflect the employer at all you will see there is an entry that says ‘Kent county council (Kent schools)’ – although one would question why they are claiming at all given that state schools are fully funded public sector bodies. HMRC have never had any concept of employers, only PAYE schemes so when the Treasury told them to disclose this was all they were ever going to be able to do.

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