Furlough Final Curtain & Next Steps
Furlough. A look back at the scheme, plus next steps to take as a business.
Furlough has been the word on many people’s lips this past nearly 2 years and is now one of the most used financial terms after being very unheard of. After 18 months of the scheme, LHP and the rest of the UK submitted final claims and hung up their furlough hat, to take stock of the situation and consider possible next steps.
Head of LHP Payroll Kay Augustus reflects;
“Before Furlough in the UK, the only time I’d ever heard the term was from watching Netflix’s ‘Orange is the Only Black’, when it was used to describe a break from prison! I never imagined the UK government would use it here.
Yet our payroll team at LHP claimed £4.7m for our clients in furlough money across South Wales this past year and a half.
There were a lot of changes in the UK furlough package to begin with. It started out as a Job Support Scheme, then Job Retention Bonus which were both then scrapped in favour of the Furlough scheme. In payroll the rule changes were at times daily and while it was challenging, we got through it as a team.”
LHP director Janet Collins said “We were impressed with how quickly HMRC processed claims and of course with our payroll staff and client resilience.”
The furlough scheme, introduced in March 2020 at the start of COVID-19 began as a short-term measure. It continued on though, with the scheme finally closing on 30 September 2021.
As the final deadline for claims passed, it became timely to consider any actions businesses might need to take. Since 28 October 2021 it hasn’t been possible to claim back support under furlough, unless a reasonable excuse for submitting a late claim has been agreed with HMRC.
HMRC is now undertaking a large-scale review of claims made and we anticipate a wave of enquiry letters to be issued to businesses soon. A Taxpayer Protection Taskforce, of 1,250 HMRC employees, was announced as part of the Autumn Budget to help investigate incorrect or fraudulent COVID-19 support claims.
Some businesses have already acted, with £1.3 billion furlough repayments made (a recent calculation). Repayment reasons including those not as adversely affected by the pandemic as envisaged at time of claiming, to those noticing overclaims via inaccuracies in claims made.
Have you checked yours yet?
The UK media reported £60bn lost to furlough claim fraud in recent press. Many businesses have not yet reviewed their historical claims to check if they’re accurate. At LHP, we recommend you do so, in order to highlight any possible issues before a potential HMRC enquiry.
HMRC can impose penalties of 100% of an overclaim assessed, which could be mitigated with a voluntary disclosure.
If you’d like helping looking back at your claims, our Head of Payroll Kay Augustus can help.
Get in touch via Let’s Talk.