TT343: CJRS claims – publication of claimant companies details

February 24, 2021

Might your name be disclosed online for using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

It might come as a surprise to learn that the Government are publishing the names of companies which have claimed money for furloughed staff under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”).

For all claims after 1 December 2020 a monthly list of claimant companies will be published online.  Whilst the employer is named, the amount claimed is not disclosed.  The December 2020 list shows that 741,285 companies claimed for furlough support.  Additionally, if amounts have been claimed for an employee, these will be visible to that employee in their online personal tax account.

The Government say they are doing this to meet transparency commitments and to deter fraud.  However, they are not, apparently, back-dating this disclosure to earlier in 2020.

Employers who feel that the publication of this information will leave individuals at risk of violence or intimidation can apply to be kept off the list.  There are qualifying steps to take to show the threat is realistic.

Why is this an issue? 

Well, a few weeks ago, a large professional services firm published their results.  They disclosed that profits per partner were down over £100,000 each for the period reported upon to £518,000 per person, but they also revealed that, for that period, and up to that date of disclosure, they had claimed some £4.5m in furlough support.  After a public outcry in the papers the firm was pressurised into agreeing to repay the funds.  The direction of the coverage was that the firm in question could afford not to make the furlough claim.

However, this was not the intention of the CJRS as implemented.  The scheme was designed to stop employers making large numbers of people redundant during the COVID lockdowns and temporary business closures.  There was no link to profitability in the scheme rules.  It was simply a way to ensure that jobs were retained through this period such that the economy could recover in due course.  But it has become clear that, notwithstanding the rules, certain businesses are seen as undeserving of a claim for this support.  Often this view is linked to the high profile (and wealthy) owner of the business, or the industry or profitability of the business concerned.  Whilst this public pressure will be there, it is not an obligation to repay the furlough support.  However, certain companies are seeking better publicity by announcing they will repay claimed amounts, including some large retailers who received business rates support.

The landscape surrounding business support and the public perception will undoubtedly develop over time.

If you have any questions on your business and its obligations then please do not hesitate to contact your Barnes Roffe partner.

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