Voluntary repayment of furlough

Thousands of UK businesses have repaid more than £215m in furlough scheme payments to the Government because they either did not need the money or claimed it in error.

As of 15 September, £215,756,121 in job retention scheme cash had been voluntarily repaid to HMRC. The figures revealed 80,433 employers across the UK had returned the funds they were given to subsidise workers’ salaries during the pandemic. Ikea, housebuilder Redrow, Games Workshop, the Spectator magazine and distribution giant Bunzl all returned the furlough payments they had claimed.

Other employers, including Primark and John Lewis, have said they will not claim money under the Government’s job retention bonus scheme, which promises firms £1,000 for every worker brought back from furlough and kept in employment until the end of January 2021.

HMRC said it welcomed those employers that had voluntarily returned furlough money “because they no longer need the grant or have realised they’ve made errors and followed our guidance on putting things right”.

Earlier this month, HMRC estimated that as much as 10% of the funds paid through the scheme – equivalent to £3.5bn – could have been wrongly awarded or fraudulently claimed.

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