Wheelers Words

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Apr 9, 2020

Wheelers Words: Latest update on COVID-19 Support

HMRC online portal for Furloughed Employees

It was announced that HMRC were to fund 80% of employees pay to a maximum of £2,500  as well as the respective Employers National Insurance and Pension contributions. At the time of the announcement it was not clear when and how this funding would be paid to the Employer.

HMRC are not known for their speed when it comes to introducing new computer packages, but on this occasion we are advised that this particular portal is already in the testing stage. HMRC have said:
‘We are confident that it will be able to handle the large volume of employers that will use it. It is important that the maximum number will be able to self-serve. We will be issuing guidance next on how to compile claims.’

The portal is set to open on 20 April for submissions from Employers, giving a 10-day window to month end for PAYE payroll reporting. They have indicated that the payments will be made by 30 April to the Employer, but we are yet to receive detailed guidance on how this will work.

If Wheelers do your payroll processing we are anticipating that we will be able to make the claim on your behalf as agent. Clearly, we will not be able to process every claim on the first day of the portal being open due to the large number of payrolls that we prepare. We do acknowledge that cashflow will be difficult for many of you and will do our best to get through them as soon as we can.

Self Employed Income Support

We have now been advised that people wishing to claim grants through the self-employment income support scheme are likely to need access to their business tax account. As agents we have limited access to your affairs and it is possible we will not be able to make a claim on your behalf. Various professional bodies representing tax advisers have made arguments that agents should have access, but this may not be possible in the short time available to develop these services. It is not yet possible to apply for this support and contacting HMRC will clog up the helplines.

It may be beneficial to register for a personal tax account now in advance of when the claim can be made. You should go to: and create a new account if you do not already have one.

We will of course be available to give you the information you need to make the claim and whether you will qualify for the grant, which is not expected to be available until June.

Directors being “Furloughed”

The guidance has now been clarified in this area, on the basis that Directors’ responsibilities may not fully be able to stop even if they had been furloughed. To be furloughed the guidance says that you cannot perform any work. The updated release now has the following statement:

“As office holders, salaried company directors are eligible to be furloughed and receive support through this scheme.”

Company directors owe duties to their company which are set out in the Companies Act 2006. Where a company (acting through its board of directors) considers that it is in compliance with the statutory duties of one or more of its individual salaried directors, the board can decide that such directors should be furloughed. Where one or more individual directors’ furlough is so decided by the board, this should be formally adopted as a decision of the company, noted in the company records and communicated in writing to the director(s) concerned.
Where furloughed directors need to carry out particular duties to fulfil the statutory obligations they owe to their company, they may do so provided they do no more than would reasonably be judged necessary for that purpose, for instance, they should not do work of a kind they would carry out in normal circumstances to generate commercial revenue or provides services to or on behalf of their company.’

Local Authority Grants

We are already seeing letters from local authorities to eligible businesses from local authorities on how to make a claim for these grants. If you think you should have received one and you haven’t it may be worth contacting them now – if you can get though to them!

If there is anything we can help with please don’t
hesitate to get in touch with us.