According to new figures released by the Government, British businesses supported by the UK’s economic recovery have returned £1.3 billion in furlough cash.
The statistics show that many firms who overclaimed or decided that they no longer required payments received through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, handed back £300 million in the last three months. This amounts to £1.3 billion having been repaid to HMRC since July 2020 through adjustments to claims and the voluntary disclosure service, which will continue into 2022.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, commented “This Government stepped in to help when people needed it most, supporting nearly 12 million jobs through furlough. This worked, nearly 2 million fewer people are now expected to be out of work in the UK than previously feared.”
“Now with our recovery underway, it is heartening to see that £1.3 billion in furlough grants have been returned as the economy recovers.”
HMRC is also tackling businesses that have fraudulently claimed furlough through its 1,250-strong Taxpayer Protection Taskforce. With businesses reopening and employment rising to near pre-pandemic levels, the number of people on furlough has decreased to an all-time low of 1.6 million. Approximately 340,000 people left the scheme in July, with a third of those aged between 18 and 34.
The Government stated that the furlough scheme protected nearly 12 million jobs and supported more than 1.3 million businesses, with 910,000 jobs in Scotland protected, 470,000 jobs in Wales and 280,000 jobs in Northern Ireland, securing livelihoods in communities across the United Kingdom.
The Government are confident that furlough was the right thing to do at the height of the pandemic when necessary, health restrictions were in place – this way they were able to protect lives and livelihoods.
The Government also said that they are doubling down on their Plan for Jobs as the UK economy rebounds – they are focusing their support on giving people the skills and opportunities they need to succeed in the jobs of tomorrow through schemes including Kickstart, Restart and apprenticeships.