Error investigations on furlough claims

HMRC have announced penalties for Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) grant errors. The penalty can be up to 100% on top of the grant overpayment. The penalty reduces to as little as 0% if HMRC are informed of the error and any amount received as a result of an error is repaid.

Examples of an overclaim include:

  • receiving a grant despite not being eligible for it
  • claiming a grant after the change of circumstances, which make an individual, a partner or a company not eligible for a grant (such as claiming CJRS for an employee who no longer works for a company).

If at least one of the above cases apply, you are required to inform the HMRC about the overclaimed grant and pay back the overclaimed amount within the relevant time period: 90 days from receiving the overclaimed grant, 90 days after the change of circumstances (whichever applies in your case) or by 20 October 2020 (the later of the two dates being the final deadline).

HMRC focused on paying money quickly, now they will make an example of rule breakers. Expect investigations, keep your records in order.


When paying Job Retention Scheme grants, very few employers were contacted by HMRC to check their eligibility. HMRC are known to be investigating thousands of claims that have already been paid out. We recommend keeping clear records of what you have claimed, who it was for and any proof you have that the employee was eligible for the grant payment.

HMRC have prepared the document which gives more details about the planned investigations.

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