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Name companies that have taken furlough money, says Committee

20 December 2020

Many workers including freelancers and entrepreneurs “have not had a penny” despite being unable to work at all under lockdown or Tier 3 restrictions

HM Treasury and HM Revenue & Customs worked together from March 2020 to roll out job support rapidly for employees and the self-employed: the Coronavirus Job Support Scheme (CJRS) for businesses and their employees, and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) for the self-employed.

By 18 October 2020 those two schemes had cost over £55 billion, and the independent Office for Budget Responsibility now forecasts that extensions to the schemes announced by the Chancellor will cost the taxpayer a further £21 billion.

However, HM Treasury is unable to provide even a ballpark official figure for extending the schemes, or explain how it will determine whether the money has been well spent.  HMRC still does not know the actual level of fraud and error in the schemes and will not have a complete estimate until the end of 2021 at the earliest.

A combination of policy decisions, limitations in HMRC data and the prioritisation of speed means that as many as 2.9 million workers may have been excluded from CJRS and SEISS.

But despite putting the schemes in place again for the second national lockdown in the autumn, Government did not use the intervening time to develop the schemes to make sure that assistance gets to all those who need it, with many working people who have not received a penny of support since March.

Chair's comments

Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said:

“With billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money going into private companies to support jobs, the least we expect in return is transparency. That is doubly so when speed has been prioritised over effectively targeting support, or checks on the value it offers.

“With the Treasury claiming it can’t give even a ballpark figure for the cost of Covid job support until the end of next year, public scrutiny of where taxpayers’ money is going is essential. We want to see the list of the companies that have taken furlough money much sooner than that – in the next six weeks.”

“Many workers including freelancers and entrepreneurs have not had a penny and are really struggling as they continue to fall through the gaps. There is data that could be crunched to reach and help these individuals, many of whom will be unable to work at all under tier 3 restrictions.”

Further information

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