HMRC data has revealed that UK businesses have voluntarily returned more than £215 million in overclaimed Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) payments.
Around 80,433 firms have returned furlough funds they were given to help cover employees' salaries.
Commenting on the issue, HMRC stated: 'HMRC welcomes those employers who have voluntarily returned CJRS grants to HMRC because they no longer need the grant, or have realised they've made errors and followed our guidance on putting things right.'
The government believes as much as £3.5 billion in CJRS funds may have been paid out in error or to fraudsters.
Launched in April, the CJRS was designed to support businesses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Initially furloughed workers received 80% of their pay from the government, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month. Under the scheme, employers are now having to make contributions to employees' wages.
The CJRS will finish at the end of October, and will be followed by the Job Retention Bonus, which aims to encourage employers to keep employees on the payroll until the end of January 2021.