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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Covid fraud losses build up

If we thought that the government had got a grip on the billions of pounds lost to fraud during that Covid pandemic, then we need to think again. The Independent reports that MPs have been warned that the “eye-watering” amount of taxpayers’ money lost to fraudsters who exploited Covid support schemes could be even higher than previously feared.

The paper says that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has estimated that £4.9bn has been lost from loans issued to ineligible businesses during the pandemic. But the Public Accounts Committee said the total sum squandered “could go even higher” because of unknown amounts lost to fraud and error from grant funding given to businesses via local authorities:

Labour MP Meg Hillier, chair of the committee, said the government had offered “an open goal to fraudsters and embezzlers and they have cashed in – adding billions and billions to taxpayer woes”.

In a damning report, the committee said it was worried that attempts to recover lost money will be in vain “as the money will have been spent and the trails will have long ago gone cold”.


Suitcases filled with cash from the Covid loans were seized at the border as suspected embezzlers attempted to smuggle them out of the country, The Times reported last month.

The committee also found that the department distributed £21.8bn of Covid grant funding to businesses through local authorities, but still “lacks information on recipients” of this money.

The levels of incompetence in this government never ceases to amaze me.
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