Written by Ged Cosgrove, group managing partner

As we edge closer to the end of some of the Government’s emergency Coronavirus business support schemes, HMRC is now turning its attention to those who have taken deliberate advantage or unknowingly claimed in error.

HMRC has begun issuing letters to business owners who have utilised the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) but are highlighted as missing payments of PAYE tax and National Insurance, which the grant was funding up to now. Those who continue not to pay these funds – which were a condition of the original scheme – are being warned that they may have to pay furlough grants back in full if they do not comply.

The CJRS is still supporting some 9.6 million people and 1.2 million employers, but news is coming to light of businesses who have fraudulently claimed against it. Additionally, there have been cases of employee’s whistle-blowing non-compliant employers that have been paying them furlough whilst forcing them to work – with HMRC reportedly receiving 7,000 reports of furlough fraud in the first three weeks of July. A number of these cases may be unintentional breaches, whereby a business has unknowingly misinterpreted the rules of the scheme or submitted a claim containing an error.

If you feel you’ve inadvertently claimed more on the CJRS than you were eligible to, or have missed payments of PAYE and NI, it’s better to address this now in order to rectify any issues and provide you with complete peace of mind. In such instances, please contact your usual Champion advisor.

We’re continually working with clients to ensure they have factored in PAYE and NI repayments into their cashflow, as well as any deferred VAT and rent holidays; the months are flying by us and before we know it, these schemes will have come to a close. The only way for businesses to maintain liquidity after this period is to start factoring in these reintroduced costs now, to ensure the capital is available.

Finally, for those who are still considering making redundancies but are struggling with the associated costs, we advise looking at the Redundancy Payments Service (RPS). Any employer who can’t afford to pay their employees’ redundancy pay can apply to the service for financial assistance. Once you have provided evidence that you cannot afford to pay employees’ statutory redundancy pay, the RPS will make the payment on your behalf. There are limits to how much payment can be offered and there is a cap on the weekly rate, but this is a very valuable service for those who know they need to make immediate cuts in their headcount.

As ever, Champion is here to help – our advisors are equipped and trained in how to help businesses survive even the most unforeseen of challenges. You’re not alone; we are in this together.