COVID-19 – update (NI/UK)

Apr 14, 2020


Check out GOV.UK for the latest information on guidance and supports for UK businesses and employers. There is also now a dedicated page for NI businesses. The latest guidance for employees and employers from HMRC in respect of the job retention scheme has now been published; now that we finally have more detailed guidance, we’ll be developing some resources for members. The scheme is due to launch next Monday 20th April.

The latest update from HMRC to stakeholders confirms the following:-

  • Claims should not be made by phone, it will be an online service.
  • If you are a file only agent, You will need to help your clients, as you might hold information that they need to make their claim.
  • Businesses will need the following information on each of their furloughed employees:
  • National Insurance number
  • salary, National Insurance and pension contribution information that allows business to calculate the claim amount.

HMRC have confirmed that the scheme will launch on 20 April. HMRC will be contacting businesses to advise them what they need to do. At this point HMRC would welcome you also contacting your clients and offering yourselves as vital support during this process, either directly, if authorised, or indirectly if you are a file only agent.

HMRC are expecting phone demand to be beyond its capacity to offer a normal service. Therefore, the service is designed to be self-serve with guidance in place.

HMRC will also be providing you with further information on supports for businesses and workers over the coming weeks, including more detail on the Coronavirus Self Employment Income Support Scheme.

Agents and employers can also book onto the following live webinar which provides an overview of the support available to help employers and employees deal with the economic impacts of COVID-19:

During this webinar HMRC will be taking a look at:

  • furloughed workers
  • who can apply for the scheme
  • following the rules of the scheme
  • how much may be claimed
  • how to claim and what you’ll need to claim.

This webinar will bring you the most up-to-date information to keep you fully informed of changes as they develop.

The latest HMRC Stakeholder Digest has also been published and provides a further round-up of steps to help people during the coronavirus outbreak 


“Further HMRC support during coronavirus

Job Retention Scheme date announced at Treasury Select Committee today 

HMRC’s Chief Executive Jim Harra and Director of Coronavirus Policy Co-ordination Cerys McDonald appeared in front of the Treasury Select Committee this morning, giving evidence on the economic impact of coronavirus. During this session, Jim announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be open for claim submissions in the week commencing 20 April.

We have already issued email to employers and agents to alert them to the latest scheme guidance, which is available on GOV.UK at: 

We will continue to communicate with employers and agents as the scheme develops and we will shortly be able to provide them with the information they need to prepare to make a claim. In the meantime, we urge customers to review the guidance on GOV.UK to ensure they understand the latest position. 

Employers should also reassure their employees that they need to take no action as applications for funding to the scheme will be made via their employer. 

You can watch the full Select Committee session on Parliament Live TV. 

Additional social distancing guidelines for businesses 

During this time of disruption, the UK Government is not asking all businesses to shut – indeed it is important for some businesses to stay open. Only some non-essential shops and public venues have been asked to close – see more detailed information on the businesses and venues that must close, and those that are exempt

To support businesses that remain open during this period in England, the government has published additional guidance to assist employers, businesses and their staff in staying open safely during coronavirus (COVID-19). 

The government understands that employers and businesses may have concerns about how they can remain open for business safely, and so play their part in preventing the spread of the virus. All employees should be encouraged to work from home unless it is impossible for them to do so. Not everyone can work from home: certain jobs require people to travel to, from and for their work – for instance to operate machinery, work in construction or manufacturing, or to deliver front line services. For specific settings please refer to sector specific guidance

For advice to businesses in other nations of the UK please see guidance set by the Northern Ireland Executive, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government

We’d be very grateful for your help in sharing this additional advice on social distancing measures with your stakeholders and networks. 

Business Support Campaign

Thank you for your support in sharing our business support advice in recent weeks. We have now moved our site onto GOV.UK and this content will be used in campaign material from now on.  

The original Business Support website will continue to remain available in the short term, but we would be very grateful if you could point your members to our new site to ensure they have the very latest information.  

HMRC Webinars are available

HMRC is delivering a programme of webinars on the measures to support employers, people and self-employed individuals through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

A webinar covering the support available to help employers support their workers is available here.

Your constituents can also register to attend a free webinar to learn more about the support available to help them deal with the economic impacts of coronavirus by registering on GOV.UK.”