The National Audit Office (NAO) has warned that taxpayers stand to lose up to £26bn on the government’s COVID-19 business loan scheme, because of fraud, or an inability to repay the money.
The scheme was designed to quickly distribute cheap loans of up to £50k to small businesses hit by the crisis. But the NAO estimates that up to 60 per cent of customers may fail to pay it back because of fraudulent applications and minimal credit checks.
The business loan scheme is just one of numerous financial support programmes available to individuals and businesses out of pocket because of coronavirus.
Roll forward this week, and the government has launched a new public hotline for people to report suspected COVID-related fraudulent activity.
The hotline is run in partnership with the charity Crimestoppers.
The government says that a minority of people have been claiming support illegally from the various COVID support schemes, that were set up to help those who are struggling financially.
The number to call is 0800 587 5030. Lines are open 24/7 or there is a secure anonymous form on Covidfraudhotline.org.