We all know someone who was required by their managers to keep on working whilst furloughed, despite it being against the rules. Many companies did this so it’s good to see this BBC investigation which is probably just the tip of the iceberg.
Secret recordings obtained by File on 4 and The Times newspaper appear to show managers at recruitment firm Brewster Partners telling staff how to avoid detection while they continued to work. The company has denied the allegations, and has confirmed it will refer itself to HMRC for investigation.
In a video call with staff, Lisa Brewster, the company’s managing partner at the time, appears to encourage staff to continue working: “Technically, you are not supposed to be working”, she says. “However, if you choose to work, we can’t stop you. Yeah? Does that make sense? So, technically, yes, you’re furloughed. You can choose to work, though, which I’m presuming nearly everybody here will be doing…”
Of course furlough fraud was not limited to the recruitment sector, nor indeed to real companies. According to Construction News an entity named ‘Carillion’ has appeared on an HMRC list of claimants of Furlough cash, and on the list of claimants and recipients for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The claim was made in the name of Carillion and apparently paid. This was highly unlikely to have been Carillion themselves, as the business folded and entered Administration in January 2018.
It must be really galling for all the self-employed and limited company directors who were excluded from government financial support to know so much furlough fraud took place.