UK: COVID-19 Business Support Risk Assessment

At the UK Budget announcement made on 3 March 2021, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak formally announced the creation of a new ‘Taxpayer Protection Taskforce’.  The Taskforce will be equipped with 1,265 HMRC staff and over £100m in funding in order to detect and tackle fraud and error within COVID-19 support schemes.

The Taxpayer Protection Taskforce will now police the full range of taxpayer-funded COVID-19 business support schemes, including the CJRS but also (amongst others) the Self Employment Income Support Scheme, the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme. 

Claims made in relation to the COVID-19 support schemes, even if made in good faith, may face sanction if mistakes were made with the application process, ongoing compliance requirements or record-keeping. In order to ensure there are no surprises when HMRC conduct a compliance check or investigation, Bird & Bird have developed a risk assessment in order to allow businesses to health check their use of any of the schemes.

Our COVID-19 business support risk assessment allows you to share details of the support schemes used and highlights potential issues to be aware of in order to prepare for any check or investigation by the new Taxpayer Protection Taskforce.  The data will be collected by members of our specialist Tax Disputes and Investigations team, which is dedicated full time to the resolution of disputes with HMRC both of a civil and criminal nature.  We have a wealth of experience leading complex disclosure projects, undertaking forensic internal investigations with clients in order to submit detailed representations to HMRC for the purpose of error disclosure and mitigation.  Our expertise in disclosure projects means we are able to quickly understand and advise clients on how to deal with risks that arise in difficult circumstances, in particular where deliberate or fraudulent behaviour is alleged or suspected.

For more information about the COVID-19 business support risk assessment, please get in touch.

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