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Coronavirus (COVID-19) – update 23

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – update 23

29 Apr 2020

Testing for virus for essential workers

We advised members last week that the government announced that Covid-19 testing has been expanded to essential workers in England, and members of their households, who are showing symptoms of coronavirus. Employers can register their workers through a digital employer portal. Employees are also able to self-register through a separate employee portal.

Bookings for testing through the interim form which we circulated last week are still valid until 5pm today but DHSC is asking employers and employees to make new referrals through the digital portals.

Various guidance is available for employers and employees - click on each title below:

The Scottish Government has issued a prioritisation matrix which explains which key workers should be able to access testing through the UK Government Testing Programme. This guidance and introductory note - click - provides more information on who those key workers are and how you can assist them in accessing testing.

The online booking service will apply to England and Scotland only, but full details on how to access testing in all nations and who is eligible can be found – CLICK here.

Job Retention Schemes - wages for furloughed employees

Wages are now being paid through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Payments for claims made on Monday 20 April will be in employers’ bank accounts by tomorrow (28 April). HMRC has issued the following advice:

If you have already made a claim
Don’t worry if you haven’t received payment yet – it takes six working days from when you claimed. Please don’t call us to chase payment as we won’t be able to update you before the six working days have ended.

You don’t need to do anything to receive payment. It will automatically be sent to the bank account you nominated in your claim.

Please retain all records and calculations for your claims in case we need to contact you about them in future, as we continue to check claims made through the scheme.

If you have not yet made a claim
You can still claim online for a grant for 80% of your furloughed employees’ salaries, up to a maximum of £2,500 per employee, per month. You will receive the funds six working days after you claim, provided your claim matches records that we hold for your PAYE scheme.

Please read all the available guidance before you apply. To find this, go to GOV.UK and search for ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’.

HMRC will check claims made through the scheme and will act to protect public money against anyone who makes a dishonest claim.

Please continue to keep your furloughed employees informed and ask them not to contact us directly - we will not be able to provide them with any information.


Support for vital freight routes

The government has announced (click) a support package for essential freight services to Northern Ireland, the Isle of Wight and the Scilly Isles, and the European mainland.


Customs queries – update

Requests for deferment of duty payments – claims where the direct debit has been taken where businesses have contacted HMRC to ask for time to pay

Q: If a direct debit has been collected from a customer that tried to agree an extended payment arrangement with HMRC but was unable to get through, can the direct debit be paid back to the customer?

A: Customers who emailed the Central Deferment Office, or who otherwise tried unsuccessfully to contact HMRC, to request an extended payment arrangement before the deadline, but had their direct debit collected on 15 April, should email the Central Deferment Office at cdoenquiries@hmrc.gov.uk . The subject of the email should be ‘COVID-19 deferral’ and it should explain briefly how COVID-19 is affecting the business’s finances to the extent that they need to claim back the amount collected on 15 April. Claims under the Direct Debit Guarantee can only be considered for customers who made a genuine attempt to contact HMRC and qualify for an extended payment arrangement. They should be able to evidence the failed attempt to contact HMRC if asked (e.g. through telephone records/copies of emails) and will be expected to pay immediately as much of the amount owed as possible, where this does not create severe financial hardship.

Temporary storage

A suggestion was made that HMRC permits temporary storage authorisation holders to extend that authorisation to new locations to ease pressure on temporary storage in ports.

The guidance issued on authorisations covers this, an authorisation holder can apply to NFAU to extend their authorisation to other locations. Please see the guidance - click here.

Inward Processing Relief - INF5 forms

HMRC is reviewing the requirements for INF5 forms in light of the concern raised and will contact you on this in due course.

If you have any issues and queries please