UK: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme & HMRC Helpline

UK: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme & HMRC Helpline

Introducing the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the HMRC COVID-19 Helpline to assist businesses.

This news article provides a short summary in regards to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme introduced by the UK Government and the HMRC COVID-19 Helpline. Full guidance can be found here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

In order to support employers whose operations have been majorly affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19), the UK Government have initiated the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This is a temporary scheme open to all UK employers for at least three months starting from 1st March 2020 and is expected to be in operation by the end of April.

More specifically, the scheme is open to all UK employers that had created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on 28 February 2020. Employers can use a portal to claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ (employees on a leave of absence) usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage. Employers can use this scheme anytime during this period.

The current advice released around the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is generic and does not cover multiple possible scenarios, however what the guidance does say is:

“You will receive a grant from HMRC to cover the lower of 80% of an employee’s regular wage or £2,500 per month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that subsidised wage. Fees, commission and bonuses should not be included.”

HMRC COVID-19 Helpline

HMRC has set up a dedicated phone helpline to provide support for businesses and self-employed individuals who have concerns around not being able to pay their tax due to the outbreak of coronavirus. The helpline number is 0800 024 1222 with opening hours Monday to Friday 8am to 4pm. The service is not available on Bank Holidays.

Over 2,000 call handlers will be available to offer support to businesses and impacted individuals. Any business or self-employed person can use the service to access practical help and advice.

The following options are potentially open to people unable to pay:

  • Setting up an instalment arrangement
  • Suspension of debt collection proceedings
  • The cancellation of penalties and interest where there are administrative difficulties in contacting or paying HMRC immediately

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