Businesses give back £1.3 billion in furlough cash

22nd September 2021

British businesses buoyed by the UK’s economic recovery have returned £1.3 billion in furlough cash, according to new statistics from the Government.

The figures show that firms who have overclaimed or decided they no longer need payments received through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme handed back £300 million in the last three months. In total, they have repaid £1.3 billion 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, said “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 cracking down on those who have fraudulently claimed furlough through its 1,250-strong Taxpayer Protection Taskforce. With businesses reopening and employment rising to near pre-pandemic levels thanks to the successful rollout of the vaccination programme and the Government’s roadmap out of the pandemic, the number of people on furlough has fallen to a record low of 1.6 million. Around 340,000 people left the scheme in July, with more than a third aged between 18 and 34 – a clear sign the government’s Plan for Jobs is working.

The Government says that the furlough scheme has 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. Furlough was the right thing to do at the height of the pandemic when necessary health restrictions were in place – this way we were able to protect lives and livelihoods. As the economy reopened and businesses started to trade again it’s right that employees can get back to work.

The Government also said that doubling down on its Plan for Jobs as the UK economy rebounds – focusing our support on giving people the skills and opportunities they need to succeed in the jobs of tomorrow through schemes including Kickstart, Restart and apprenticeships.