Over the last 18 months the world has been dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic and this has put a strain on lives and businesses. With lockdown restrictions easing and a potential return to normal life businesses are looking to move forward and plan for the future, which is likely to include an end to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), commonly referred to as furlough, which has supported business and employees who have been unable to work due to the impact of the virus.
Current guidance indicates that the CJRS will finish on 31 August 2021 and whilst previously the Government announced the intention to utilise the Coronavirus Job Support Scheme (CJSS) to support business after the conclusion of the CJRS, this was scrapped in late 2020 and there has been no indication of the CJSS being resurrected. There has also been no announcement from the Government regarding the Coronavirus Job Retention Bonus, business will have to prepare for the future with potentially no support from 1 September 2021.
If you are a business that has used the CJRS or other related Coronavirus support, you need to make sure that your records are in order. Many may have been focussed on other areas as the Budget 2021 was announced but included was a £100 million investment in the Taxpayer Protection Taskforce with a view to targeting individuals and businesses that sought to defrauded COVID support initiative, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Businesses are expected to retain a copy of the Furlough Agreement, required for all employees placed on furlough under the CJRS, for a period of 6 years. Other information should also be retained for a minimum of 5 years including:
The above-mentioned evidence will be used to demonstrate that there was a genuine claim under the CJRS and that your business has not recovered more than they were entitled to for each employee.
HMRC appreciate there will be potential errors and they have advised that they are not looking to target those who have made innocent errors but rather those who deliberately flouted the system and rules. Having said that, this is now an opportunity for HMRC to look into the claims and you may well have a visit from HRMC. Therefore, it is advisable that you ensure your records are in place. It is also an opportunity to rectify any errors or overpayments received to lessen the risk of potential penalties.
What is an overclaim of the grant for the purposes of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?
An overclaim is monies you were not entitled to receive. This could include an error in calculation which did not meet the requirement of the CJRS or where the qualification of your business or the individual concerned could be challenged.