List of businesses claiming furlough grant released

The Government has published the names of businesses who made claims to the Job Retention Scheme (furlough scheme) for the month of December 2020.

In order to increase transparency surrounding the use of the furlough scheme, the Government announced last year that it would be making this move to publicise details of all businesses who have made claims for the furlough grant from December 2020 onwards, aside from in exceptional circumstances.

The list, which is available now on the Government’s website, so far contains the names of just over 740,000 businesses. Currently, only the names of the businesses are listed, however, further monthly lists from February 2021 will detail the names of businesses who made claims in the previous month will also specify the following:

  • an indication of the value of the claim within a banded range
  • the company number for companies and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs).

There are exceptional circumstances whereby details of an employer’s business may be withheld if HMRC are satisfied that publication will expose an individual associated with the business or anyone living with them, to serious risk of violence or intimidation.

Individuals associated with the business may include:

  • an employee
  • a director, officer or employee of that company
  • a partner, officer or employee of that partnership
  • a member or employee of a limited liability partnership
  • a settlor, trustee or beneficiary of a trust.

If employers believe that a serious risk of violence or intimidation will come from publicising their name, company registration number, and amount of claim, they can submit a request to HMRC with evidence of why they think there would be a serious risk. Only one request needs to be made to cover the whole period from December 2020 onwards.

To reiterate, the purpose of this list is to increase transparency over the use of the scheme and to likely prevent against deliberately fraudulent claims or discrepancies in claims; thus employers are not advised to view this list as a ‘shaming’ list.

Furlough fraud can occur if employers claim any amount they are not entitled to receive or any amount they are no longer entitled to receive after a change in circumstances – eg an employee who is no longer employed by them is still having their wages claimed for under the scheme. In either case, a penalty may be issued, taking into account deliberate and non-deliberate behaviours of furlough fraud, if employers do not notify HMRC of the issue 90 days after the date they:

  • received the overclaimed, or overpaid, amount that they were not entitled to
  • stopped being entitled to retain the amount they were paid because of a change in circumstances, or if
  • have not used the payment for its intended purpose (eg to pay staff wages).

That said, it is vital that employers ensure they are correctly using the scheme and take further advice if there are any parts of it they are unclear on.

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