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