Monday April 20, 2020 HMRC opened the portal for employers to submit their claims to reimburse the 80% wage costs for furloughed staff. We’ve collated our thoughts on the portal with extra advice on all you need to know.
The claim for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been launched and a brand new HMRC portal is open for employers looking to submit a claim for reimbursement of employees who have been placed on temporary furlough leave.
Who is eligible?
UK businesses including charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities with a UK payroll can apply.
The HMRC website states:
You can only claim for furloughed employees that were on your PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020 and which were notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020. This means an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 19 March 2020. Employees that were employed as of 28 February 2020 and on payroll (i.e. notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 28 February) and were made redundant or stopped working for the employer after that and prior to 19 March 2020, can also qualify for the scheme if the employer re-employs them and puts them on furlough.
Employees can be on any type of employment contract, including full-time, part-time, agency, flexible or zero-hour contracts. Foreign nationals are eligible to be furloughed. Grants under the scheme are not counted as ‘access to public funds’, and you can furlough employees on all categories of visa.
To be eligible for the grant, when on furlough, an employee cannot undertake work for, or on behalf, of the organisation or any linked or associated organisation. This includes providing services or generating revenue. Employers are free to consider allocating any critical business tasks to staff that are not furloughed. While on furlough, the employee’s wage will be subject to usual income tax and other deductions.
How do you access the portal?
The link isn’t very clear on the HMRC website so I’ve included it here to make it easy for you (the green claim now button is halfway down the page).
The word portal when it first came out made me giggle a bit as it reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I’m a lifelong Buffy fangirl). Yet my friends pointed out that us accountants are having to get a bit ‘Buffy’ right now and work our magic to help businesses at this time. So… off to try out the HMRC portal we went.
I have to say I have been really impressed. The original expected date for the portal launch was the end of April but thanks to a dedicated team working around the clock for HMRC and a group of beta testing businesses, the portal was launched 10 days earlier than expected.
Is it perfect?
Is it impressive?
Yes! Considering it would ordinarily take months, if not YEARS to project manage something this mammoth in size. So let’s cut HMRC some slack and instead give them a well deserved pat on the back for a speedy job done well at a critical time.
HMRC Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme portal potential challenges
If you use a payroll agent
If you currently use a payroll agent who submits your payroll information to HMRC each month, they will have a special agent login with HMRC. How they are set up to act for you on this agent login will depend on whether they can submit the claim on your behalf. If they can’t, the submission will need to be made via your own HMRC online account.
We did get a week’s notice about this so your agent should have been in touch with you to discuss if they can submit this for you. If they can’t, you’ll need the Government Gateway login that would’ve been sent to you either when you set up the business or when you registered for taxes with HMRC. You may never have used your Government Gateway login and may not have the original paperwork in your possession. If this is the case, you will need to contact HMRC to request a new login. This will take up to 7 working days by post so you will need to action this as soon as possible as it will delay your reimbursement. Here’s the link to contact HMRC.
If you’ve lost your login
As explained above, if you have lost your login the HMRC advice is to firstly search your emails for ‘Government Gateway ID’ because if you have your ID you may be able to reset your password online, without having to wait for the letter with the new ID and password.
If you’re not up to date on the latest advice
We completely understand that this is a very difficult time for many employers and their employees. You may not be up to date with the latest news and changes on the eligibility criteria for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. As I write this, the latest guidance was released on Friday, April 17th so we had to work quickly to re-assess many claims before submitting on the portal. Please see the latest guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/work-out-80-of-your-employees-wages-to-claim-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
If your payroll date falls after the 20th of the month and you need to claim for two pay dates in one
If you were forced to close your business and furlough your staff and your payroll fell after March 20th, you may be looking to be reimbursed for both March and April pay dates. This can be done on the portal and you can make a claim for imminent pay runs in advance. HMRC advised that the last Friday of the month is the most popular pay date throughout the UK so you may be trying to secure reimbursement in time for payroll due any time up to the end of April. You will be able to do this in advance right now.
If you are self employed
We understand how much of a headache it is for those people who are self-employed and are awaiting the next steps from Government to gain financial support. While there has not been that much of an update since the original news on the financial reimbursement available fro those who are self-employed, our guess is that once businesses have been reimbursed for their furloughed employees that the focus will shift to those who are self employed.
At this point, the priority has been grants, loans and the furlough reimbursement. Self-employed support will come next and HMRC have advised that they are looking to contact those who qualify for the scheme in May. I understand this might seem unfair to place the self employed lower on the list, but it has been so much more complex for Government to assess the needs of self employed people due to the way we report our profit and loss each year.
Still need some help and advice?
If you still need some help and advice on anything around furloughing employees, the portal, grants, loans or cash flow issues we are more than happy to help. We can arrange a virtual chat with you, in confidence, to help you make sense of the latest guidance. Get in touch to arrange a chat this week and we can help you through it.
Helen Crapper is the founder of Insight Finance Solutions. Helen and the team specialise in accountancy advice at every stage of business and help make finances stress free for clients. Helen is also a coach and uses money mindset coaching to help business people remove their personal blocks and limiting beliefs to grow as people while growing their businesses.
To have a chat about your business finances and how Insight Finance Solutions can help you, get in touch.