Who can access the JRS Portal - and from when?
Justine Riccomini runs through the latest information available on the HMRC JRS Portal through which employers and agents can claim furlough assistance grants.
On 8 April, First Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive at HMRC, Jim Harra, announced that the portal through which COVID-19 JRS furlough claims can be made will open in the week commencing 20 April 2020 – a week earlier than originally anticipated.
ICAS is delighted that this is happening – it will be a relief to many who were anxious about potential delays and problems with the IT infrastructure – HMRC’s reputation has not always been good in this area. We understand that the portal has been tested with some large businesses and some smaller businesses are currently participating in the pilot. We are told the pilot has been a success thus far.
A clear message was issued by HMRC at the same time as this announcement relating to who will be granted access to the portal once it opens. All employers, and agents in possession of Agent Authorisation permissions, will be able to file claims for assistance. The information which is needed to access the portal is as follows:
- the employer’s PAYE reference number
- the number of employees being furloughed
- national Insurance Numbers for the employees being furloughed
- names of the employees being furloughed
- payroll/works number for the employees being furloughed
- the business’s Self-Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference or Corporation Tax Unique Taxpayer Reference or Company Registration Number
- the claim period (start and end date)
- amount claimed (per the minimum length of furloughing of 3 consecutive weeks)
- business bank account number and sort code
- contact name
- contact telephone number
Note that HMRC has stated employers will need to calculate the amount of furlough assistance being claimed as this will not be done by HMRC. In addition, HMRC retains the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of any claims made. A time limit on the “retrospective audit” process has not been given at this time.
Jim Harra’s announcement made it clear that those agents who carry out “file only” duties for employers, which includes some payroll bureaux, will not be granted access to the portal due to data protection legislation.
This could cause problems for some employers, who may assume that their payroll bureau can not only prepare the payroll but submit the claim for assistance as well. Employers who need to file their own claims will now need to start looking into what information they need to make a claim.
Cash Flow is King
It is vitally important for the majority of many small and medium sized businesses to ensure that they are ready to make a claim by 20 April to ensure they can claim as early as possible and improve their cash flow position during the coronavirus pandemic. In the meantime, they may well need to seek alternative sources of finance.