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Something you may have missed in the extension of the furlough scheme. Payment details will now be published.

Note: With the situation changing rapidly, please be aware that information in the following article may not reflect current guidance. For the latest information and to understand its effect on your payroll, please get in touch.

So there we were, ready – like all payroll processors – for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to morph into the Job Support Scheme (JSS) on 1 December, when lockdown 2.0 became a reality and the Chancellor announced that CJRS will be with us until the end of March at its initial 80% rate. Cue lots of scrambling to get to grips with the finer detail of the reactivated scheme to ensure our clients’ payrolls are correct.

And it’s in that finer detail that something interesting emerged. In this round of CJRS, some claim information will be made public. From December, and according to this Treasury Direction, HMRC will publish the names, the value of claim(s) and, for companies and LLPs, the company registration numbers of employers who make claims under the scheme.

When, what and how to publish

According to the Treasury Direction, “the information must be published by a notice on gov.uk or by such other means as HMRC consider appropriate”. Quite what that means is not yet clear and as at time of writing (28 November) the government’s step by step guide has yet to be updated, but it should be available imminently.

The amount declared does not have to be precise, with a “reasonable indication” of claim values appearing to suffice, but each CJRS claim must be published within 3 months of the end of the calendar month in which the claim was made. The information will remain on public view for 12 months.

Does every CJRS claimant have to publish?

No. The guidance presents a lengthy list of exceptions where publication is not required. Exemption depends on the employer being able to provide “evidence that publication would result in a serious risk of violence or intimidation to certain individuals, or any individual living with them.”

Exempt individuals could include employers, directors, employees, trustees and others. The evidence required is as follows:

  • “a police incident number following a threat or attack;
  • documentary evidence of a threat or attack, such as photos or recordings; or
  • evidence of possible disruption or targeting.”

Is publishing fair?

There’s a strong argument for publishing the payment details. These are public funds being distributed to private organisations and it’s not unreasonable that there should be a public record of who got what. Additionally, and as explicitly noted by the Treasury Direction, it’s not unreasonable for employees to know whether CJRS payments have been claimed in their name.

But there’s a clear disparity in terms of the timing of this. Up until now, details of individual claims have been hidden from public view. That won’t be the case for those who receive funds moving forward, so new claimants may legitimately feel as though they are being treated differently to those businesses who claimed prior to December 2020.

It’s not clear yet what (if any) effect this may have on businesses, but at a time when many businesses desperately need support, it would be unfortunate if the additional scrutiny and administrative burden were to discourage eligible businesses from applying.

Of course, one way of avoiding the admin burden and staying completely up to date with your staff wages is to outsource payroll. If you need help in keeping track of the constantly changing shape of payroll in your business, talk to us.

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