HMRC is writing to selected Eat Out to Help Out claimants to ask them to check their claims.
The scheme saw more than 84,000 food and drink establishments take part and offer a 50% discount on eligible purchases on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays during August 2020.
HMRC set up a system to pay restaurants within five working days. HMRC said: “Controls were built into the system to protect public money, which included limiting eligibility to food businesses registered with the relevant local authority by 7 July 2020.
“Our post-payment compliance checks to recover money paid out incorrectly are now set to begin. As such, we are writing to around 4,000 businesses where our records suggest that they may have made an incorrect claim and asking them to check their claims are correct.
“Claimants have 60 days to respond to the letter or we may start a formal compliance check. This could include having to pay statutory interest and penalties.”
Some claimants may be asked to provide evidence of eligibility and their Eat Out to Help Out calculations. This follows the similar approach taken to post-payment compliance for the Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.