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HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is investigating almost 13,000 businesses for possible abuse of the government's…

   News / 29 Jun 2021

Published: 29 June 2021
Location: London, UK

By Suzanne Evans, Director, Political Insight

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is investigating almost 13,000 businesses for possible abuse of the government's COVID support schemes, the Financial Times reports. So far, eight people have been arrested, including a West Midlands man on suspicion of £495,000 furlough fraud. Some 12,828 interventions by HMRC cover the period up to the end of March: 7,384 relate to the furlough scheme; 5,020 to the self-employed programme; and 424 to eat out to help out. According to BLM, the law firm which uncovered the data as part of a freedom of information request, the number of investigations could increase dramatically going forward.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has awarded new covid testing site contracts to outsourcers Serco and Mitie worth collectively £687 million. Serco’s contract is worth up to £322 million and involves continuing to run some 20% of Covid-19 testing sites in England and Northern Ireland for another year. Mitie's deal, worth up to £365 million, covers the management of around 28% of testing sites across England, Scotland and Wales, up from about 23% of sites in its former contract.
Travel stocks tumbled for the second day running after Portugal, Spain and Malta imposed new restrictions on UK visitors and Hong Kong banned all passenger flights from Britain. In Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has for the past few days been pushing all EU countries to impose quarantines on British travellers. Portugal now requires all travellers from the UK to quarantine for 14 days on arrival unless they can prove they had both covid vaccinations at least two weeks ago. Spain said that UK tourists will have to show proof of full vaccination or a negative PCR test. Starting Wednesday, holidaymakers heading to Malta will also have to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival if they haven’t had their second dose.
Lloyd's of London insurer Hiscox has reached an agreement with the Hiscox Action Group (HAG) over business interruption losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. When lockdown measures were first introduced, numerous small businesses claimed for loss of earnings under their business interruption policies but insurers refused to pay, arguing ‘force majeure.’ The Financial Conduct Authority launched a test case and in January, the Supreme Court found largely in favour of companies receiving payouts. The 400-member strong HAG also brought a private case against Hiscox to determine the level of such payouts, and an agreement has now been reached, although the terms are confidential. In March, Hiscox said it has reserved $475m overall for pandemic-related claims.
Nissan is set to announce an expansion of its battery production in Sunderland and launch a brand-new electric model which will create thousands of jobs for UK workers, Sharecast News reports. The plan is for the new plant to be producing batteries by 2024, when the numbers of UK-made components in UK-made cars is required to increase in order to keep to the terms of the government's trade deal with the European Union (Nissan's main market for the Sunderland-made cars). The UK government is contributing to the cost of the plans which could amount to hundreds of millions, although it is unclear how much the government has invested in the project.
NatWest Group is to sell most of its Irish commercial lending business to Allied Irish Banks (AIB) as part of its exit from Ireland. AIB will take over about €4.2bn in gross performing commercial lending and associated undrawn exposures of around €2.8bn from NatWest's Ulster Bank. Natwest said 280 staff will transfer to AIB.
Burberry CEO Marco Gobbetti is stepping down at the end of the year to become the new general manager and CEO of Italian luxury goods firm Salvatore Ferragamo.

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