Furlough scheme extended to end of June

The government has announced that its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will be extended by a month to reflect continuing social distancing measures.

The scheme, which allows firms to furlough employees, with the government paying cash grants of 80 per cent of their wages up to a maximum of £2,500, (https://wnj.co.uk/job-retention/) was originally open for three months and backdated from the March 1 to the end of May.

Now, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that it will be open until the end of June.

He said: “It is the right decision to extend the furlough scheme for a month to the end of June to provide clarity.”

The government says that the scheme will continue to be monitored to ensure people and businesses can get back to work “as soon as it’s safe to do so to drive UK economic recovery”.

Under the scheme, thousands of businesses up and down the country have now furloughed staff.

An online service is being launched today (April 20) to allow businesses to make a claim – the taxman has revealed they will not be able to claim by telephone.

Businesses and agents that are authorised to act on behalf of clients for PAYE matters, will be able to make a claim.

WNJ’s team is available to support its clients through the process, either directly, if authorised, or indirectly.

Please confirm to payroll@wnj.co.uk if you wish to instruct us to access the HMRC portal directly on your behalf and process the grant claim.

In addition, whilst our payroll team has already been processing salaries based on furlough calculations for some clients where applicable, if you haven’t already done so, please can you provide the following information:

• Name and National Insurance number of the employee furloughed
• Details of the furlough claim period
• Confirmation of the business bank account number and sort code

To make a claim themselves, businesses will require the following information:

• PAYE reference number
• Confirmation of the number of employees being furloughed
• The furlough claim period for each employee
• Amount claimed (per the minimum length of furloughing of three weeks). HMRC retain the right to audit all aspects of the claim
• Your business bank account number and sort code
• Your contact name and telephone number

The online service is designed to be ‘self-serve’, with guidance in place.

The Office for Budgetary Responsibility has said the CJRS scheme is limiting the impact on employment.

The government says future decisions on the scheme will take into account further developments on the wider measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus, as well as the responsible management of the public finances.

PAYE payment and furlough eligibility extensions

Companies that have cash flow difficulties and are unable to meet their PAYE liabilities as a result of the coronavirus crisis may be able to defer their payments.

HMRC is urging anyone worried about any payments to contact them to discuss the options available.

That could include a payment extension. It is understood that if required the taxman will defer PAYE bill payments for up to three months, where the business is adversely impacted by coronavirus.

This is not an automatic deferral. However, WNJ has successfully applied for a PAYE payment extension on behalf of one of its clients.

Applying for a payment extension might also be an option for businesses struggling to pay other taxes which aren’t automatically deferred under the government’s coronavirus support measures, including Corporation Tax and CIS.

The government has also announced that during the outbreak the annual interest on deferred tax payments will be waived.

HMRC has also set up a dedicated helpline. For more details visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/coronavirus-covid-19-helpline

Meanwhile, the government has extended the start date for eligibility for furlough to March 19 from the original February 28 date, meaning that 200,000 more people can benefit from the scheme.

Under the scheme employers can claim a grant covering 80 per cent of the wages for a furloughed employee, with a cap of £2,500 a month.

To qualify and to protect against fraudulent claims, individuals originally had to be employed on February 28, 2020.

But following a review of the delivery system and to ensure the scheme helps as many people as possible, new guidance has confirmed the eligibility date has been extended to March 19, 2020 – the day before the scheme was first announced.

Employers can now claim for furloughed employees that were employed and on their PAYE payroll on or before March 19, 2020.

The employee must have been notified to HMRC through an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee on or before that date.

A HMRC spokesman said: “This change makes the scheme more generous while keeping the substantial fraud risks under control and is expected to benefit over 200,000 employees.”

It has also been confirmed that the scheme is set to be fully operational next week with the online portal going live on April 20.

More information on the scheme is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

New insolvency measures unveiled

New insolvency measures to prevent companies unable to meet debts due to the impact of coronavirus from going out of business have been announced.

The Business Secretary has said he will make changes to allow companies undergoing a rescue or restructure process to continue trading, giving them “breathing space” that could help them avoid insolvency.

It will include enabling companies to continue buying much-needed supplies, such as energy, raw materials or broadband, while attempting a rescue.

And it also involves temporarily suspending wrongful trading provisions retrospectively from March 1 2020 for three months for company directors, so they can keep their businesses going without the threat of personal liability.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said the measures would, “reduce the burden on business, giving bosses much-needed breathing space to keep their workers employed and their companies going.”

Mr Sharma also announced that the government would introduce legislation to ensure those companies required by law to hold Annual General Meetings (AGMs) will be able to do so safely, consistent with the restrictions on movement and gatherings introduced to address the spread of coronavirus.

Companies will temporarily be extended greater flexibilities, including holding AGMs online or postponing the meetings.

This measure follows an announcement that companies would automatically and immediately be granted a three-month extension to the filing of their accounts following a fast-track online process.

More than 10,000 businesses have already successfully applied for the extension.

The government previously consulted on changes to the corporate insolvency regime and announced plans to introduce new insolvency restructuring procedures in August 2018. The new legislation will implement these plans.

Current insolvency rules stipulate that directors of limited liability companies can become personally liable for business debts if they continue to trade when uncertain about whether their businesses can continue to meet their debts.

Relaxation of these wrongful trading rules will reassure directors that the difficult decisions they have to make about the future viability of their business will not have to be unduly influenced by the exceptional circumstances which are entirely beyond their control.

Matthew Fell, chief UK policy director at the Confederation of British Industry, said: “The temporary suspension of wrongful trading provisions, along with other measures, will give much needed headroom for company directors to enable otherwise viable businesses to use the government’s support package and weather this crisis.”

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – an update

HMRC has revealed more information about how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will work.

An online service is set to be launched next week to allow businesses to make a claim – the taxman has revealed they will not be able to claim by telephone.

HMRC says the new online portal will open on April 20 and it is contacting businesses to advise them what they need to do.

CJRS will allow employers to claim 80 per cent of the wages of staff that they have furloughed – up to a maximum of £2,500 per employee wage costs (https://wnj.co.uk/job-retention/).

Once the portal is up and running, businesses, and agents that are authorised to act on behalf of clients for PAYE matters, will be able to make a claim.

WNJ’s team will be available to support its clients through the process, either directly, if authorised, or indirectly.

Please confirm to payroll@wnj.co.uk if you wish to instruct us to access the HMRC portal directly on your behalf and process the grant claim.

In addition, whilst our payroll team has already been processing salaries based on furlough calculations for some clients where applicable, if you haven’t already done so, please can you provide the following information:

• Name and National Insurance number of the employee furloughed
• Details of the furlough claim period
• Confirmation of the business bank account number and sort code

To make a claim themselves, businesses will require the following information:

• PAYE reference number
• Confirmation of the number of employees being furloughed
• The furlough claim period for each employee
• Amount claimed (per the minimum length of furloughing of three weeks). HMRC retain the right to audit all aspects of the claim
• Your business bank account Number and sort code
• Your contact name and telephone number

HMRC says it is expecting phone demand to be beyond its capacity to offer a normal service. The service is designed to be ‘self-serve’, with guidance in place.

HMRC will also be providing further information on its support for businesses and workers over the coming weeks, including more detail on the Coronavirus Self Employment Income Support Scheme.

Jim Harra, First Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive of HMRC, says it is “working at pace” to deliver the service that will allow businesses to make a CJRS claim.

Last week Mr Harra told a virtual Commons Treasury Committee hearing on the impact of the COVID-19 related measures that it was currently testing the new online portal with selected PAYE employers.

HMRC has had to move quickly. The scheme was first announced on Friday March 20 at only the second coronavirus news briefing delivered by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Mr Harra 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.”

He said that the only way to get the scheme to work would be to ensure it was driven by self-service, as there could be millions of claims.

Mr Harra added: “Many employers will be familiar with filing online PAYE returns or they will use an agent. Between now and the release of scheme, we will be releasing more detailed guidance.”

The latest guidance on CJRS can be found on GOV.UK by searching for ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’.

£750million coronavirus funding for frontline charities

Charities across the UK will receive a £750million package of support to ensure they can continue their vital work during the coronavirus outbreak.

The money will help a range of good causes including hospices and charities supporting domestic abuse victims.

Tens of thousands of charities providing vital services will benefit from direct cash grants to ensure they can meet increased demand as a result of the virus as well as continuing their day-to-day activities supporting those in need.

As part of the package of support, £360m will be directly allocated by government departments to charities providing key services and supporting vulnerable people during the crisis.

The second part of the support package is £370m for small and medium-sized charities, including through a grant to the National Lottery Community Fund for those in England.

This cash will support organisations at the heart of local communities which are making a big difference during the outbreak, including those delivering food, essential medicines and providing financial advice.

The latest announcement from Chancellor Rishi Sunak builds on previous announcements of support for charities and businesses, including deferring their VAT bills, paying no business rates for their shops next year, and furloughing staff where possible, with the government paying 80 per cent of their wages.

The Chancellor said: “Our charities are playing a crucial role in the national fight against coronavirus, supporting those who are most in need.

“It’s right we do everything we can to help the sector during this difficult time, which is why we have announced this unprecedented £750m package of extra funding.

“This will ensure our key charities can continue to deliver the services that millions of people up and down the country rely on.”

Government departments will now “work at pace” to identify priority recipients, with the aim for charities to receive money in the coming weeks. The application system for the National Lottery Community Fund grant pot is expected to be operational within a similar period of time.

Chancellor strengthens support on offer for business

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced he is now taking further action to support firms affected by the coronavirus crisis.

He is bolstering business interruption loans for small businesses and has announced a new scheme for larger companies.

The move follows concerns that the original scheme he announced to support businesses was moving too slowly and rested to heavily on the judgement of banks over eligibility.

The Treasury says that more than £90 million of loans to nearly 1,000 small and medium sized firms have been approved under the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) since its launch.

In order to maximise the support available, the Chancellor is extending the CBILS so that all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible should they need finance to keep operating during this difficult time.

The government is also stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and making operational changes to speed up lending approvals.

The government also says it will continue to cover the first 12 months of interest and fees.

The new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) aims to ensure that more firms are able to benefit from government-backed support during this difficult time.

It will provide a government guarantee of 80 per cent to enable banks to make loans of up to £25m to firms with an annual turnover of between £45m and £500m.

Loans backed by a guarantee under CLBILS will be offered at commercial rates of interest and further details of the scheme will be announced later this month.

The Chancellor said: “We are making great progress on getting much-needed support out to businesses to help manage their cashflows during this difficult time – with millions of pounds of loans and finance being provided to hundreds of firms across the country.

“This is a national effort and we’ll continue to work with the financial services sector to ensure that the £330 billion of government support, through loans and guarantees, reaches as many businesses in need as possible.

The Chancellor also revealed he will be speaking to bank chief executives to discuss how the schemes are working and ensure everybody is playing their part.

There have now been over 130,000 enquiries from businesses across the country for business interruption loans, according to latest figures from UK Finance.

Some 983 businesses have had finance approved, while banks are processing thousands of loan applications – and scheme changes made today will help them approve loans for the smallest businesses as quickly as possible.

Last week, Mr Sunak and the Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey wrote to banks asking them to support small and medium-sized enterprises in any way they can.

This included ensuring interest rates offered to struggling businesses are reasonable and to pass on the benefit of the government guarantee to those borrowing under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

Adam Marshall, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Improvements to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme will help firms get access to cash more quickly, and the announcement of a new loan scheme for mid-sized companies closes a significant gap in existing support.”

Mike Cherry, national chair of the Blackpool-headquartered Federation of Small Businesses said: “The most immediate issue threatening the survival of millions of small businesses and the self- employed is severely depleted cash flow.

“Time is of the essence and therefore we welcome government action in ensuring that any viable small business that has been negatively impacted by the Coronavirus can now directly access CBILS rather first being offered a bank’s own standard commercial lending product.

“Removing personal guarantees for all commercial loans below £250,000 is also very welcome.

“Taking on debt at the current time is a daunting prospect for many small businesses and the self-employed.
“We look forward to continuing our constructive engagement with government to ensure that debt can be repaid in an affordable way that allows small businesses to recover from this crisis and to thrive again.”

Is your furlough scheme compliant with employment law? Expert advice is at hand

There is no doubt the government’s Job Retention Scheme will provide a critical lifeline for many businesses.

However, it is important that employers ensure compliance with employment law legislation while addressing the concerns of employees and protecting their business.

Help is now at hand for WNJ clients who have any queries regarding the scheme that relate to employment law matters – such as choosing who is ‘furloughed’ and how to action the scheme properly.

They can now get FREE access to expert HR support advice from a dedicated coronavirus team set up by Croner Taxwise.

Its aim is to guide employers through:

• the Job Retention Scheme
• how to deal with employee concerns
• how to support employees whilst protecting your business

The HR Support Advice number to phone is: 0844 892 2807

To access the free advice as a WNJ client, give the account number TXWS7496.

Under the scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of the salary of employees that would otherwise have been laid off.

It will cover 80 per cent of a regular salary up to £2,500 a month, which is just above the median income. All UK businesses are eligible.

Information on the scheme continues to develop. For instance, the Croner Taxwise team point out that when it comes to issuing furlough letters, the employee must agree to being furloughed.

Stating in a letter that if the employee has no objections by a certain time, their acceptance will be presumed, is not acceptable.

Meanwhile, in a move to increase load capacity HMRC has changed its dedicated phone number for the coronavirus helpline targeted at businesses and the self-employed.

The HMRC coronavirus helpline number to call is now 0800 024 1222

All calls to the original 0300 number will be redirected to the new helpline, according to Accountancy Daily. Opening hours for the helpline will be 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday only.

Business rate grant fund – an update

Local authorities are gearing up to deal with applications from businesses looking to access grant schemes set up in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The government has announced small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief.

This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs and grants should be directed to your relevant local authority.

You are eligible for this if you are a small business based in England, your business occupies property and you already received Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR), Rural Rate Relief (RRR).

The response to the grant scheme is still developing but some local authorities have created online forms for businesses to fill in. Others say they will contact businesses directly.

Here’s what some individual councils in the North West are doing to respond to the scheme:

Blackburn with Darwin Council:
Applications should be made via the council’s website.


Blackpool Council:
You do not need to do anything. The council will write to you if you are eligible.

Burnley Council
Waiting on further details from the government

Chorley Council
The council says it will contact everyone who is eligible directly as soon as possible

• Fylde Council
The council has an online application form:


Hyndburn Council
The council is writing to all local businesses in its area

Lancaster City Council
For information visit:


To make an online application visit: https://www.lancaster.gov.uk/forms/ShowForm.asp?fm_fid=261

Pendle Council
Awaiting government guidance

Preston City Council
The council has begun the process of writing to everyone who may be eligible. If you haven’t received a letter by April 15 get in touch through the city council’s website. For information visit:


• Ribble Valley Council
In the process of writing to everyone who may be eligible for the grant

• South Lakeland Council
Fill in the online form to apply:


• South Ribble
The council has an online application form at:-


• West Lancashire
Businesses that are eligible will receive a letter and an email

• Wyre Council:
For information visit:
For an online form visit:

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – some guidance

HMRC has now issued its guidance on how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will work. It expects the scheme, designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus, to be up and running by the end of April.

It says employers can use a portal to claim for 80 per cent of furloughed employees’ (employees on a leave of absence) usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month.

They can also claim the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage.

The scheme is open to all UK employers that had created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on February 28, 2020.

Any organisation with employees can apply. As well as businesses, that includes charities, public authorities and recruitment agencies.

Employees you can claim for

Furloughed employees must have been on the PAYE payroll on February 28, 2020 and can be on any type of contract, including:
• full-time employees
• part-time employees
• employees on agency contracts
• employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts

The scheme also covers employees who were made redundant since February 28 2020, if they are rehired by their employer. Employees hired after that date cannot be furloughed or claimed for.

To be eligible for the subsidy, when on furlough an employee can not undertake work for, or on behalf of, the organisation. This includes providing services or generating revenue.

While on furlough, the employee’s wage will be subject to usual income tax and other deductions.

If an employee is working, but on reduced hours, or for reduced pay, they will not be eligible for this scheme.

HMRC says employers should discuss with their staff and make any changes to the employment contract by agreement.

They may need to seek legal advice on the process and if sufficient numbers of staff are involved, it says it may be necessary to engage collective consultation processes to procure agreement to changes to terms of employment.

When employers are making decisions in relation to the process, including deciding who to offer furlough to, equality and discrimination laws will apply in the usual way.

To be eligible for the subsidy, employers should write to their employee confirming that they have been furloughed and keep a record of this communication. Businesses do not need to place all their employees on furlough.

Employees on unpaid leave cannot be furloughed, unless they were placed on unpaid leave after the February 28 date.

Employees on sick leave or self-isolating should get Statutory Sick Pay, but can be furloughed after this. Those who are shielding in line with public health guidance can be placed on furlough.

If an employee has more than one employer they can be furloughed for each job. Each job is separate, and the cap applies to each employer individually.

What you can claim

Employers need to make a claim for wage costs through the scheme. Fees, commission and bonuses should not be included.

At a minimum, employers must pay their employee the lower of 80 per cent of their regular wage or £2,500 per month.

An employer can also choose to top up an employee’s salary beyond this but is not obliged to do so.

HMRC plans to issue more guidance on how employers should calculate their claims for Employer National Insurance Contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions, before the scheme becomes live.

Employees whose pay varies

If the employee has been employed or engaged by an employment business for a full 12 months prior to the claim, businesses can claim for the higher of either:

• the same month’s earning from the previous year
• average monthly earnings from the 2019-20 tax year

If the employee has been employed for less than a year, they can claim for an average of their monthly earnings since they started work.

If they only started in February 2020, employers can use a pro-rata for their earnings so far to claim.

To claim, you will need:

• your ePAYE reference number
• the number of employees being furloughed
• the claim period (start and end date)
• the amount claimed (per the minimum length of furloughing of 3 weeks)
• your bank account number and sort code
• your contact name
• your phone number

You will need to calculate the amount you are claiming. HMRC will retain the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of the claim.

Employers can only submit one claim at least every three weeks, which is the minimum length an employee can be furloughed for. Claims can be backdated until March 1 if applicable.

Once HMRC has received your claim and you are eligible for the grant, it will pay it via BACS payment to a UK bank account.

You should make your claim in accordance with actual payroll amounts at the point at which you run your payroll or in advance of an imminent payroll.

Employers must pay the employee all the grant they receive for their gross pay, no fees can be charged from the money that is granted.

Employees that have been furloughed have the same rights as they did previously. That includes Statutory Sick Pay entitlement, maternity rights, other parental rights, rights against unfair dismissal and to redundancy payments.

Once the scheme has been closed by the government, HMRC will continue to process remaining claims before terminating the scheme.

Wages of furloughed employees will be subject to Income Tax and National Insurance as usual. Employees will also pay automatic enrolment contributions on qualifying earnings, unless they have chosen to opt-out or to cease saving into a workplace pension scheme.

Employers will be liable to pay Employer National Insurance contributions on wages paid, as well as automatic enrolment contributions on qualifying earnings unless an employee has opted out or has ceased saving into a workplace pension scheme.

Tax Treatment of the Coronavirus Job Retention Grant

Payments received by a business under the scheme are made to offset these deductible revenue costs.

That means they must be included as income in the business’s calculation of its taxable profits for Income Tax and Corporation Tax purposes, in accordance with normal principles.

Businesses can deduct employment costs as normal when calculating taxable profits for Income Tax and Corporation Tax purposes.

For more details visit: www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Support for the self-employed

The government has announced a new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme to support those who work for themselves as they struggle to cope with impact of the coronavirus crisis.

Unveiling the plan, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that self-employed people facing financial difficulties would receive a taxable grant based on their previous earnings over the last three years.

It will be worth up to 80 per cent of earnings and it will be capped at £2,500 a month.

The figure will be calculated using average monthly profits over the last three financial years. Support will initially last three months. However, it may be June before people can access the money.

Mr Sunak said that the scheme would only be open to those who are already self-employed and have a self-assessment tax return for 2019. It will apply to those with trading profits up to £50,000 a year.

The government says that 95 per cent of people who are majority self-employed will benefit from the support scheme and he hopes people will be able to access it no later than June. The scheme will be backdated.

The money will be paid in a single lump sum and anyone who missed the January deadline for their tax return will get an extra four weeks to submit.

Self-employed people who are eligible for the new scheme will be able to apply directly to HMRC for the taxable grant, using an online form, with the cash being paid directly into people’s bank account.

To minimise fraud, only those who are already in self-employment and meet the above conditions will be eligible to apply. HMRC will identify eligible taxpayers and contact them directly with guidance on how to apply.

The Chancellor described the scheme as an “unprecedented level of support” and said ministers had worked to ensure it was targeted at those who need it the most.

Unveiling the scheme, he said he was treating the self-employed like the employed and told them: “You have not been forgotten” and he added: “We are all in it together”.

However, he also implied that he was looking to reform the tax system in the future.

He told a press conference announcing the scheme there was “currently an inconsistency” between what the employed and self-employed pay, despite the actions taken “treating them the same”.

Asked about the self-employed and freelancers who don’t have three years’ worth of accounts, Mr Sunak said the Treasury would look at what they do have.

However, those who are recently self-employed and do not have a full year of accounts will not receive any help under this scheme.

Full details of the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will be announced by the government later.

Other support measures aimed to help the self-employed include changes to sick pay, aimed at giving assistance to sole traders. The Minimum Income Floor in Universal Credit is being suspended ‘for everyone affected by the economic impacts of coronavirus’.

The move means that self-employed people can now access Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees – approximately £95 a week.

The ‘new style’ Employment and Support Allowance will be payable for people directly affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating according to government advice from the first day of sickness, rather than the eighth day.

People will also be able to claim Universal Credit and access advance payments where they are directly affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating, without the current requirement to attend a Jobcentre.

The Chancellor announced last week that the government would cover 80 per cent of at-risk employees’ salaries for three months, as part of a raft of measures aimed at supporting the economy during the crisis.

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of the salary of employees that would otherwise have been laid off.

The scheme will cover 80 per cent of a regular salary up to £2,500 a month, which is just above the median income. All UK businesses are eligible.

To discuss any issues that you are facing as a result of coronavirus and how you can access support please contact WNJ on 01772 430000. We are here for you.