COVID-19 – update on agents and the self-employed income support scheme

May 05, 2020

As set out in our earlier news story, we have continued to engage today with HMRC on the rational for agents not being able to make claims on behalf of their clients once the self-employed income support scheme opens. In particular, we have raised the position of agents and the digitally excluded.

HMRC's response received just now confirms that agents will not be able to make claims. The key message we have received is that HMRC has looked hard at making it work for agents, but this would have added significantly to the time to deliver the service. It was considered overall a better decision to get the money to taxpayers as soon as possible.

Developing the functionality for agents/intermediaries was one of the difficult trade-offs made in delivering the system as early as possible to get money to eligible self-employed taxpayers. According to HMRC, the system has therefore been developed in a way that make the claim process as easy as possible to use. 

Agents can still provide assistance by supporting clients to understand the eligibility rules using the online checking tool and helping them to get ready by advising what information they will need to hand. Agents can also assist clients in making a request a review where the system gives a response that they are not eligible.

Taxpayers will need a Government Gateway (“GG”) ID and password to make the claim. If a client does not have a GG login, one can be created when they check their eligibility online. It is very important that agents do not use client GG credentials to apply for grants under this scheme on behalf of clients. In doing so this may trigger HMRC fraud checks and delay payment. Members are also reminded of their responsibilities under the Institute’s Code of Professional Conduct.   

Where a taxpayer is not able to use the online process, agents should refer taxpayers to HMRC’s COVID-19 hotline where they can submit an application over the phone. More details are to follow on this process.