UK firms have voluntarily returned more than £215m to the government in furlough scheme payments they did not need or took in error.
According to HMRC figures, some 80,433 employers have returned cash they were given to help cover workers’ salaries.
The money returned is a tiny part of the £35.4bn claimed under the scheme up until 16 August, the latest date for which statistics are available.
Officials believe £3.5bn may have been paid out in error or to fraudsters.
HMRC said it welcomed employers who have voluntarily returned grants.
Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – or furlough scheme – workers placed on leave have received 80% of their pay, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.