The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has announced that £25 million will be spent on a new Public Sector Fraud Authority (PSFA) taskforce that will enlist an elite team of experts to crack down on fraudsters who took advantage of the government's Covid support schemes.

HM Treasury reported the new squad will be based in the Cabinet Office and will double funding for the Government’s central counter fraud capacity and will be in place by July.

Mr Sunak said, "People are rightly furious that fraudsters took advantage of our vital Covid support schemes, and we are acting to make sure they pay the price."

The new body will recruit leading data analytics experts and economic crime investigators to recover money stolen from COVID support schemes and spot suspicious companies and people seeking Government contracts. Counter fraud experts will also mount mandatory inspections on Whitehall programmes to uncover vulnerabilities.

The move follows the resignation of the counter-fraud minister, Lord Agnew, in January in frustration over what he called the 'lamentable' attempts to tackle COVID fraud.

The Public Accounts Committee reported this year that it expects that all Coronavirus state-backed schemes will cost at least £15bn in fraud and has exposed the taxpayer to "substantial, long-term financial risks".

More details of the new counter-fraud squad will emerge when the minutes from the first meeting of the government’s new Efficiencies and Value for Money Committee are released.

Useful guides on this topic

A tax inspector calls...
This section looks at policy on tax strategies/avoidance and tax investigation news, including serious fraud and disclosure facilities. From time to time we comment on any other topcial HMRC activity.

COVID-19: Government support tracker
This tracker covers measures announced by the government to support individuals and businesses, as we get through COVID-19.

COVID-19: Grant funding for business
What cash grants are available to support businesses during the Cornonavirus crisis?

Taxpayer exposed to long-term risk from COVID fraud
The Public Accounts Committee has published 'COVID-19 cost tracker update'. It expects that all Coronavirus state-backed schemes will cost at least £15bn in fraud and has exposed the taxpayer to "substantial, long-term financial risks".

COVID-related tax fraud costs us billions says PAC
The Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) has published a report 'Fraud and Error', warning that government actions “significantly increased” UK taxpayers' exposure to a loss of billions of pounds through fraud and error in administering Coronavirus support packages.

External links

HM Treasury: New ‘fraud squad’ will crack down on criminals who steal taxpayer money

HM Treasury: New efficiency drive to cut £5.5 billion of government waste

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