Su­nak’s job sup­port scheme vul­ner­a­ble to fraud, says IFS

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Rus­sell Lynch

THE Chan­cel­lor’s new job sup­port scheme is open to fraud as un­scrupu­lous em­ploy­ers ex­ploit the new lifeline, ex­perts have warned. The In­sti­tute for Fis­cal Stud­ies said the JSS would rely on the hon­esty of com­pa­nies sub­mit­ting claims to over­come the dif­fi­culty of mon­i­tor­ing how many hours em­ploy­ees worked.

In ex­treme cases the scheme raises the prospect that firms could un­der­de­clare em­ployee ac­tiv­ity, to claim the max­i­mum 22pc of salary top-up from the state due to staff work­ing a third of their orig­i­nal hours.

Paul John­son, the IFS’s di­rec­tor, said that “mon­i­tor­ing and fraud preven­tion will be very dif­fi­cult”. He added: “It is im­pos­si­ble for the Govern­ment to know how many hours peo­ple are re­ally work­ing. Other coun­tries who run sim­i­lar schemes have es­tab­lished pro­to­cols in place to try to min­imise these is­sues and the Govern­ment should try to learn as much as pos­si­ble from them.”

The orig­i­nal fur­lough scheme, which fin­ishes next month, has al­ready cost the tax­payer up to £3.5bn in fraud­u­lent or mis­taken claims. It rep­re­sents a tenth of the £35.4bn out­lay so far on fur­lough, which cov­ered 9.6m jobs at peak.

HMRC is in­ves­ti­gat­ing 27,000 “high risk” cases of sus­pected abuse af­ter re­ceiv­ing thou­sands of calls to a hot­line.

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