UK to Keep Secret Names of Thousands of Firms After Billions in COVID-19 Loans Lost - Report

© REUTERS / Russell BoyceA cash machine ATM that offers withdrawals in either Pound Sterling or Euros is seen in Canary Wharf Financial centre in London, Britain, June 30, 2016.
A cash machine ATM that offers withdrawals in either Pound Sterling or Euros is seen in Canary Wharf Financial centre in London, Britain, June 30, 2016. - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.02.2022
The UK government estimated recently that the bounce-back scheme, which granted loans up to 50,000 pounds ($67,000) to small firms during the COVID-19 pandemic, cost it approximately 4.9 billion pounds ($6.5 billion) in fraud.
Thousands of British enterprises that profited from COVID-19 financing schemes worth billions of pounds will remain anonymous under new government rules to only publish state subsidies worth £500,000 ($670,000) or more, The Guardian reported on Saturday.
The increased threshold was reportedly implemented after Brexit, despite concerns that it might impede the fight against fraudsters who are suspected of stealing billions from the schemes.
All pandemic business loans over €100,000 ($112,000) had to be published with details of the receivers under EU requirements in effect until the end of 2020, when Britain formally left the union. The new £500,000 level for public disclosure of state aid, including pandemic loans, is set out in the government's subsidy control bill, which is currently being debated in parliament, according to the outlet.
Because of the disclosure rules, most enterprises that apply for loans will reportedly remain undisclosed. According to the estimates quoted in the report from the British Business Bank, the government-owned bank that provided the funding, only 3% of businesses who applied for help under the bounce back loan scheme are expected to be named.
British pounds - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.01.2022
UK Treasury Pledges to 'Pursue Anyone' Involved in Theft of £5 Billion in COVID Support Money
In light of this, late last month, treasury minister Lord Theodore Agnew resigned, citing a series of "schoolboy errors" in the fight against fraud. Because of a combination of "arrogance, indolence, and ignorance," he added, the loans regime was more open to fraud.
Estimated fraud losses for two other schemes, the coronavirus large business interruption loan scheme and the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme, have reportedly not been released by ministers.
Between March 23, 2020, and March 31, 2021, almost £80 billion ($107 billion) in loans were granted to businesses across the UK.
According to reports, the British government is being sued under freedom of information laws to provide information on all of the loan recipients.
The kingdom's Information Commissioner’s Office refused to do so in December 2021, stating under a temporary EU framework, only UK loans provided in 2020 that were over €100,000 (or €10,000 for farming or fisheries) were to be published. As of now, companies in England, Wales, and Scotland will only be required to report loans of £500,000 or more from January 1, 2021, under the UK's post-Brexit framework.
Moreover, under Article 10 of the Northern Ireland Protocol, loans in Northern Ireland are still subject to EU reporting requirements. Normally, EU state aid is reported at a threshold of €500,000 ($560,000), however, this threshold was lowered for the pandemic loans.
To participate in the discussion
log in or register
Заголовок открываемого материала