Two arrests in West Yorkshire over suspected £3.4m furlough fraud

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A man and a woman from West Yorkshire have been arrested in connection with suspected £3.4m fraud under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

A 35-year-old man and 36-year-old woman were arrested in the Bradford area on 28 April following a search carried out by HM Revenue & Customs’ Taxpayer Protection Taskforce.

Both were also arrested in relation to suspected multi-million pound tax fraud and have been released while investigations continue.

More than £61 billion has been claimed through the furlough scheme, which has supported 1.3 million employers and 11.5 million jobs.

Janet Alexander, HMRC Taxpayer Protection Taskforce director said: “The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is part of the collective national effort to protect jobs. The vast majority of employers will have used the CJRS responsibly, but we will not hesitate to act on reports of abuse of the scheme or any HMRC administered Covid-19 support packages.

“This is taxpayers’ money and any claim that proves to be fraudulent limits our ability to support people and deprives public services of essential funding.

“As usual, we have built steps into CJRS to prevent mistakes and fraud happening in the first place, but anyone who is concerned that their employer might be abusing the scheme should report it to HMRC online or call 0800 788 887.”

The first arrests into suspected furlough fraud were made in the West Midlands in July 2020.

In March this year, the government announced that it would invest over £100 million in a Taxpayer Protection Taskforce to combat fraud in relation to Covid-19 support packages, including furlough.

The number of organisations making claims through the furlough scheme dropped by 12,000 in February. Some 840,387 jobs were furloughed during the month.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme runs until 30 September 2021. Furloughed employees will continue to receive 80% of their salary for hours not worked, up to £2,500 a month, but employers will be asked for a contribution of 10% from July and 20% in August and September towards the hours their staff do not work.

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