AS the UK furlough scheme officially ends on 31 October many firms in the country have voluntarily returned £215m which they did not need or took in error.
Some firms claimed smaller payouts the next time they were given furlough cash.
According to HMRC figures, some 80,433 employers have returned the money so far.
Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – or furlough scheme – workers placed on leave have received 80 per cent of their pay, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.
A whopping £35.4bn claimed under the scheme up until 16 August, the latest data showed.
Officials estimate that out of which £3.5bn may have been paid out in error or to fraudsters.
Under the scheme, which was launched in April to support businesses that could not operate, or had to cut staffing levels during lockdown, the full amount was paid by the government initially, but firms are now having to make a contribution to wages as well.
The scheme has helped 1.2 million employers across the UK furlough 9.6 million jobs, official figures showed.
The firms which returned cash include housebuilders Redrow, Barratt and Taylor Wimpey, Games Workshop, distribution giant Bunzl and the Spectator magazine.
Recently. the government has made it clear that the furlough scheme would not be extended.