Over the past 18 months, many accountancy firms have worked with clients who have made use of the government’s job retention scheme in order to continue employing staff during the Covid-19 pandemic. This has allowed their employees to continue receiving a wage, even if they are unable to perform their duties.
Firms have also utilised the furlough scheme to support employees with increased care duties due to the pandemic, whether this be for children out of school, or for vulnerable relatives suffering with illness.
As a result, insurers are seeing a flood of new claims emerging in relation to furlough, the majority of which relate to late filing of requests by accountancy firms on behalf of their clients. The deadline to submit furlough claims usually occurs on either the 14th or the 15th day of the month.
At Lockton we are aware of how much a claim like this can impact the business. In a recent claim we received from an accountancy practice, the firm advised us that they should have made a submission but missed the deadline and as a result a claim was made against them. This claim amounted to over £100,000.
HMRC will only accept claims beyond the relevant deadline if a firm has a reasonable excuse for missing that deadline. Any claim after the deadline will need to be made without delay as the reasonable excuse no longer applies.
What might be considered a ‘reasonable excuse’ for a delayed claim?
- the death of a partner or close relative shortly before the claim deadline
- an unexpected hospital stay
- a life-threatening or severe illness and including coronavirus-related sickness that prevents the claimant from claiming in time (will only apply if no one else in the company could reasonably file the claim)
- a period of self-isolation that prevented a claim being made (only applies if no one else could reasonably make the claim)
- computer or software failure just before, or while preparing, an online claim
- issues with HMRC online services or HMRC errors
- fire, flood or theft
- unexpected postal delays
- delays relating to a disability that prevented a claim from being made.
In the absence of what HMRC deems a ‘reasonable excuse’, firms who file late claims will be unable to secure furlough support for their clients from the government for the upcoming month, which could leave them at risk of financial damage.
Should your clients wish to continue making use of this scheme before the September deadline, we recommend employing a highly organised approach, taking every possible step to work with your client to avoid making a late claim.
Muazzez Acar Cert CII – Account Executive, Lockton Companies LLP
If you have any questions please contact your Lockton Account Manager for further advice or email ACCAaccountants@uk.lockton.com.
Lockton is ACCA’s recommended broker for professional indemnity insurance
Practitioners may also find ACCA’s PCRT guidance on furlough claims useful.