“The UK Government had to act swiftly to support the economy at the start of the pandemic, but also had responsibility to protect taxpayer’s money and minimise fraud. Today’s report makes clear that basic principles of effective fraud control were not applied to some early government support schemes, such as Bounce Back Loans and business support grants paid through local authorities, which has put billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money at risk.
“ICAEW contributed to the Fraud Advisory Panel’s response to the PAC inquiry in which we called for public bodies to be more transparent and accountable for how they tackle fraud and error, as well as improve data sharing in respect of COVID-19 related fraud. We are pleased to see the PAC adopt these recommendations and also urge HM Treasury to strengthen reporting requirements around fraud, including requiring departments to estimate the level of fraud within their COVID-19 support schemes as part of their annual report and accounts. Transparency is essential to ensure the government learns lessons from the pandemic and is better placed to prevent fraud in future crisis responses.”