They’ve done it! The HMRC portal for claiming under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme goes live on Monday 20 April.


They haven’t said what time it goes live. Night owls, I recommend you stay up on Sunday night and try to access the portal in the wee small hours of Monday. Early birds, I recommend getting up a little earlier than normal on Monday morning. Let’s hope they’ve stress tested it, because that portal is going to be hit by 5.9 million businesses on Monday.


HMRC says that properly completed and submitted applications will be reviewed and money will be transferred to your business bank account within 6 working days. That means for applications submitted on the 20th, you should receive the funds no later than Tuesday 28 April. Just in time for month end. I sure hope the system doesn’t crash.


So how do you make a claim?


Be prepared.


Do your homework this weekend so that you’ve got everything you need to file for the CJRS grant. If you have outsourced your payroll to an agency or your external accountant, make sure they are doing the filing for you. If not, you’ll be doing it yourself. Here are the steps you need to take.


Step 1 – run your April payroll so it’s done all the calculations.


If you’re claiming for staff who were furloughed in March, you’ll need the March payroll as well. If staff were furloughed for part of the month only, you’ll need to calculate the daily amounts based on 31 days in March or 30 days in April.


Step 2 – gather the following 8 pieces of information that you’ll need to apply for the grant:


  1. The number of employees furloughed
  2. The start and (if applicable) end dates each employee was furloughed. The system will likely require an end date which I expect will be 30 April for staff who remain on furlough
  3. The name and NI number of each furloughed employee
  4. Your PAYE reference number
  5. Depending on the type of entity you are, you’ll need one of the following:
    • Unique Taxpayer Reference for corporation tax
    • Unique Taxpayer Reference for self-assessment
    • Company registration number (from Companies House)
  6. Your bank sort code and account number. This MUST be a UK bank account
  7. The registered name of your business
  8. Your business address


Step 3 – for each furloughed employee you need the following:


  • The total amount being paid during the furlough period (80% of salary up to the £2,500 monthly cap)
  • Employer National Insurance thereon
  • Employer pension contributions thereon, up to the statutory 3%


Do all of the above this weekend before you try to access the portal on Monday.


Step 4 – make your claim.


The portal will be on the website. To make your claim, you’ll need a Government Gateway ID and password. You need to file your claim in one session. There is no “save and return” functionality and sessions will time out after 30 minutes. You will be taken through a series of steps on the portal to enter everything. There are no screenshots of the system so I can’t give you a step by step, but the system should take you through everything you need to enter your claim. Once you have submitted the claim, you’ll see a confirmation screen with a claim reference number. Take a screen shot or write down the reference number. You will not receive any other confirmation. No email. Nothing.


If you’re a larger employer with 100 or more staff, you’ll need to upload the claim detailed information using an Excel spreadsheet.


Step 5 – wait for HMRC to review your claim.


They will do this and pay funds into your account within 6 working days. Do not try to phone them, let them do their job and get the money to everyone. Keep all of your calculations and your confirmation screenshot on file. HMRC reserves the right to withhold payments they determine to be dishonest or inaccurate. They will be checking. Don’t try to cheat the system or you’ll foul it up for everyone. HMRC reserves the right to audit claims after they have been paid.


Good luck, everyone! Stay safe and stay healthy.