Furlough fraud could be 'biggest' in UK history says expert
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Abuse of the furlough scheme could “be the biggest fraud in British history,” according to the Chair of the COVID-19 Fraud Watch, David Clarke. Mr Clarke has made the claim after a report suggested £52 billion a year was being lost as a result of bogus claims. Rishi Sunak is preparing to present his budget to the nation on Wednesday, with the Government’s furlough financial support scheme likely to be extended.
Mr Clarke told Nick Ferrari on LBC: “We look at all the fraud that could happen during this emergency.
“It could be the biggest fraud in British history, that is how big it could be.”
He added: “Fraud is a global pandemic.
“We saw a global rise before this, now we might see taxpayer liability in a worst-case scenario being in the region of being on the hook for £40 billion.
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“We have got to look ahead and prepare.
“There were things that could have been done.”
Mr Clarke continued: “We have got to protect businesses in this country from fraud.
“We are going to be on the hook for a large amount and we must act now.”
Rishi Sunak says he 'didn't sleep' before furlough launch
The furlough scheme was extended back in December 2020 in order to provide support until the end of April 2020.
Under the extended version of the scheme, the Government has contributed 80 percent towards wages to ensure Britons are financially supported during this challenging time.
However, with the scheme due to end, many feel they are facing a cliff edge of support the Chancellor could potentially rectify.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has now outlined three key areas for Mr Sunak to focus on in order to help the country out of lockdown.
One area of concern is the furlough scheme, which is set to end in just over one month’s time under current plans.
The CBI has urged the Chancellor to protect “jobs, firms and livelihoods in the immediate term” by extending the furlough scheme, as well as providing additional further VAT deferrals.
In addition, the organisation suggested businesses must get investing in the short term to help boost the economy.
This could include vouchers for digital technologies, investments in training and setting up a new National Infrastructure Bank.
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