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Top tips when making an application for the Government’s Job Retention Scheme and a warning to get it right

HMRC opened its Job Retention Scheme (JRS) portal at 8AM on Monday 20 April, but employers must make sure that their claims are accurate - those that don’t risk being seen as fraudulent, says Nimesh Shah.

The Government and HMRC are very concerned about fraudulent JRS claims, and the
rules and system have been designed to safeguard against this as far as possible.

The Government has been vocal that it can and will audit employers and can claw-back grants from fraudulent claims.  Errors with applications are inevitable, given the complexity associated with this untested scheme, and it’s hoped that HMRC will recognise the difference between innocent and deliberate behaviour, but claimants must make sure that their application is as accurate as it can be.

To introduce a new scheme of this scale and have an operational portal ready within a month is impressive and HMRC and the Government should be applauded for their efforts. It is hoped that HMRC’s system is able to cope with the inevitable demand, and that payments can be processed and paid within the six-working day timeframe.

Businesses have anxiously been waiting to make their application as they precariously manage their cashflow on a daily basis. They can now make the claim and move forward, but they do need to make sure it is accurate.

There are lots of practical issues that businesses and HMRC will need to be ready for over the coming weeks as the applications are submitted. HMRC have produced a step-by-step guide for employers to help them understand the rules.  Our five immediate top tips when making an application are:

  1. Businesses need to make sure that they follow correct legal process when furloughing an employee, as it is strictly a change to their employment contact.
  2. Careful calculations are required in relation to holiday pay, maternity pay, sick pay, pensions and salary sacrifice as these can give rise to anomalies.
  3. The grant can only be paid into the UK bank account of the employer making the claim – this is an issue if an agent normally handles a company’s payroll or for an overseas business that does not have a UK bank account.
  4. When making the application, all the information must be submitted at once i.e. there is no option to save and return to the form later. In addition, amendments cannot be made to the form after submission, so it is important that the application is submitted fully and accurately at the first attempt.
  5. HMRC will not provide any e-mail confirmation for submission and the employer should print the submission record and make a note of the reference number.

When the scheme was first announced, the original cost estimates were around £10bn. With the take-up of the scheme being higher than expected, with almost 9m workers being placed on furlough, that cost estimate was revised upwards to £30 – £40bn. With the extension to the scheme until the end of June, the total cost will be in excess of £50bn.

Contact us

If you would like to discuss any of the above or have other queries about how you can make the right decisions for the future of your business and your income, please contact your usual Blick Rothenberg contact or Nimesh Shah.

You can also visit our Coronavirus – Practical Guidance for businesses today Hub for our latest updates and insights.

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