The Job Retention Scheme Portal – the story so far…

Coronavirus, Payroll,

The Job Retention Scheme Portal opened on Monday 20th April at 8am, and to be honest we weren’t optimistic!

Put a rushed HMRC system together with thousands of businesses and payroll agencies and, based on previous experience, we feared the worst. Given that the Self Assessment Website routinely falls over on the 30th and 31st January each year, the new portal was untested and likely to be hugely oversubscribed….

We were very happily proved wrong!

At 4pm on Monday 140,000 applications had been made, from the 480,000 per hour that the system was designed to cope with. It had stayed up all day, though there were one or two glitches along the way.

So what are the key things to be aware of?

1. You must have your Corporation Tax Unique Tax Payer Reference (UTR) to make your claim. You can either find that on the top of your latest Corporation Tax Return, on any correspondence from HMRC, or if you’re a client pop us an email over and we’ll confirm it for you.

2. If you’re making your furloughed staff’s salaries up to 100%, the HMRC calculator doesn’t (yet) work properly. You’ll have to do the calculation offline. Again, please shout if you need any help with doing this.

3. You can apply retrospectively for furlough payments already paid for March, and in advance for April payroll amounts as part of this current claim. In future months you can claim up to two weeks before your payroll is due.

4. HMRC say they will make payment of the claims within six working days. With that in mind, you need to have got your claim in by the end of Wednesday 22nd April to have your payment back by the end of the month.

5. What should you include? You should claim 80% of the employee’s gross salary, up to £2,500, and the relevant portion of the Employers Pension Contribution and Employers National Insurance amounts.

6. KEEP YOUR CALCULATIONS for at least five full years and keep a note of the claim reference once you submit it. You will need these records later, as I am sure this entire process is going to be audited!

7. Here is a link to HMRC’s step by step process guide. If you need any support, please get in touch.

8. We’ve spoken to many of our clients over the last week, but please do let us know when you start to receive your payments; it would be really helpful for us to have an idea of how long these claims are actually taking.

This will of course be the proof of the success of the speedily built Portal!

Update – 24th April 2020

Despite our original reservations, the Portal seems to have coped well with demand. I said on Tuesday, for example, that the calculator wasn’t working properly. Since then, HMRC have said that amendments are being made to the Portal to resolve these issues.

At the moment, only employers with more than 100 employees can upload a list of data to the Portal. Leaders from the Accountancy Industry are calling on HMRC to extend this functionality to smaller employees.

The aim is to reduce the pressure on payroll agencies and employers for future claims. They’ve found making the initial claims are time consuming and overly complex.

The portal will time out after 15 minutes, so there is a time pressure on any entering the claim, particularly when there’s no chance of amending your claim once it has been submitted! There is also a higher risk of keying errors, whereas if a spreadsheet could be created, checked and uploaded, that will be reduced.

We will of course let you know if the changes come in before next months’ claims are due in.

In the meantime, do let us know when funds for your claim hit your bank account!

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