Credit Strategy – CS – News

A Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report said the business department left an ‘open target’ for fraudsters

The government guaranteed £79.3billion in loans in the first year of the pandemic, and analysts estimate the taxpayer will lose around £4.9billion through fraud and error.

A further £5.7billion is estimated to have been lost in furlough and self-employment support schemes.

PAC’s review of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s annual report found that efforts to identify fraud and error had come too late.

He noted that by the time they are confirmed, the money will have been spent and “the trails will be long gone cold.”

“BEIS says it saw this risk coming, but it’s really unclear where the government was looking when it put together its initial response to Covid,” said PAC chairwoman Dame Meg Hillier.

“It offered an open target for fraudsters and embezzlers and they cashed in, adding billions and billions to taxpayers’ woes. These lessons should have been learned from the banking crisis a decade ago and could have been prepared in government pandemic exercises.

Although the report acknowledges that the government provided crucial services to businesses at the height of the pandemic, it accuses BEIS of oversight in protecting against organized economic crime.

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