On 8 April 2020, the Treasury Select Committee questioned Jim Harra, First Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive of HMRC, and Cerys McDonald, Director of HMRC’s CV-19 Policy Co-ordination. The session shed further light on the operation of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“the Scheme”). The following indications updates about the mechanics of the Scheme were given:
- The Scheme is due to open on 20 April 2020 and the first payments will be made by 30 April 2020.
- Once employers have submitted their claims into the portal, HMRC is aiming to get money into the accounts of businesses within 4 – 6 working days.
- Employers can claim for grants under the Scheme up to 14 days ahead of their payroll date, which will be helpful for cash-strapped employers.
- Employers can claim under the scheme per pay period, which will help those businesses who pay their staff weekly.
- HMRC anticipates that most employers will submit their claims in the first couple of days. The portal will be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and will operate a queue. HMRC is confident that the system can cope – it can handle 450,000 claims and there are 5,500 helpline operators.
- HMRC will seek to recover money paid out to employers where there was no entitlement to it. Claims will be assessed for risk in the background and HMRC will stop high risk payments before they have been checked. Employers who attempt to defraud HMRC will be subject to criminal penalties.
- There are no plans to change the cut off date of 28 February 2020, in what will be a blow for employees who were made redundant before this date.
We will keep you informed of further details of the scheme’s operation as they come out.