Should we be concerned about probes into SEISS and CJRS claims?

Investigations into potentially fraudulent SEISS and Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) claims are back in the news this week, after a freedom of information request revealed that nearly 13,000 such probes have so far been launched. HMRC is right to investigate suspicious activity and to crack down on fraudulent claims – but IPSE will continue to monitor this issue closely to ensure that claims made in good faith are not caught in the crossfire.

Money on a Government form

Fraudulent claims

The current scale of these investigations should be put into context; at the end of March 2021, 5,020 investigations had been opened into SEISS claims out of a total of 8.8 million grants claimed by 2.8 million people (as of early June). However, it is early days – after all, the support schemes are little over one year old and a fifth SEISS grant is still yet to come.

The scale of fraud within these schemes is unclear but, more likely than not, thousands more investigations will open over the coming years. The question of whether the self-employed should be wary of investigations into their use of financial support rests largely on HMRC’s approach to inadvertent and honest misclaims.

A call for leniency

Despite the laudable work of government officials to get financial support schemes up and running in a matter of weeks, guidance for end users was sometimes complex and unclear. This leaves open the possibility that some of the self-employed claimed money with a genuine belief that they needed it and were entitled to claim it, without realising HMRC might hold a different view.

For these claims, which are distinct from deliberate attempts to abuse financial support, IPSE urges HMRC to adopt a lenient approach whilst continuing to prioritise investigations into deliberately fraudulent claims.

Tell us if your claim is under investigation

Currently, IPSE does not believe that there are a significant number of investigations happening into inadvertently misclaimed SEISS or CJRS grants. However, if you or somebody you know has experienced this, we encourage you to get in touch and make us aware of your case:

Press Office: [email protected]

Policy Queries: [email protected]

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How to apply for SEISS

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Meet the author

Fred Hicks

Senior Policy and Communications Adviser