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  • Writer's pictureInchmead

Just 103 Covid fraud tip-offs investigated

Over 5,000 calls have been made to the Covid fraud hotline but only one in 50 cases are being investigated

With over £7bn of covid fraud outstanding, Labour MP Emily Thornberry asked the government for an update on ongoing investigations.

In a written statement, Alex Burghart, Conservative MP for Brentwood and Ongar stressed that all of the cases were looked at and sent on to the appropriate departments for further action.

Burghart said: ‘5,124 referrals were made to the Covid fraud hotline during its time being operational from October 2020 through to the end of June 2023.

‘All of these referrals were disseminated to the relevant departments.

‘Once Hotline intelligence is forwarded, the decision to investigate sits with the relevant organisation and the decision to charge rests with the Crown Prosecution Service.’

‘As of October 2023 there were 20 operations at various stages of the investigative process with the National Investigation Service (NATIS). As of March 2023 a further 83 intelligence reports originating from a C-19 hotline submission were being investigated by the Insolvency Service, with the majority being focused on insolvent and dissolved investigations.’

However, he admitted that only 103, or 2%, of all calls to the Covid fraud hotline were under investigation as of June 2023. A total 5,124 tips were received but there is little ongoing action to investigate whether there is any truth in the tips.

Just 20 cases were being investigated by the National Investigation Service (NATIS) in October 2023.

Darren Jones, shadow chief secretary said: ‘Billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money was lost to fraud and corruption during the pandemic.

‘Labour understands the value of taxpayers’ money.

‘That is why we will appoint a Covid Corruption Commissioner with the powers to get that money back and put it back where it is needed in our schools, hospitals and police.’

The hotline closed in September 2022, but was kept open online until June 2023.

On 3 August 2022 the Public Sector Fraud Authority (PFSA) was set up to improve the way government departments deal with fraud.

The PFSA has also introduced a Covid loan schemes dissolution objections process to prevent any company from dissolving before paying back Covid loans. Since this was implemented, it has saved £40,509,531 by giving the lenders time to investigate and attempt to recover the debt owed.

The Insolvency Service has banned 525 directors for up to 10 years in the last year alone for Covid fraud. This is over half the total number of 771 director disqualifications.


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