Covid live: South Korea approves Pfizer vaccine for five-year-olds; UK emergency loan losses hit £16bn

UK lost up to £16bn due to fraud and error in Covid loans schemes

Fraud and error are likely to have cost the UK government as much as £16bn across the Covid-19 emergency loan schemes, according to parliament’s spending watchdog, which described the losses as “unacceptable”.

A report from the public accounts committee published on Wednesday said the Treasury should by the end of the year come up with estimates of fraud and error losses across the individual schemes and how much it intends to recover.

The government guaranteed or gave out loans worth £129bn to people and companies during the coronavirus pandemic to support them financially through lockdown restrictions. However, ministers were warned from the start that the speed of the schemes would open them up to fraud.

Since then government agencies have found large-scale frauds across several parts of the system, ranging from the coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS) for furloughed workers, the bounce back loan scheme (BBLS) for small companies, and the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS) for mid-sized businesses.

Reports from crime and bankruptcy agencies have shown some loans were used to fund gambling, luxuries and home improvements.

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