The Government’s scheme which will enable employers to claim for most of their staff’s wages during the COVID-19 crisis opens this morning.
The Job Retention Scheme – also known as the “furlough” scheme – means that employers can claim for a cash grant to cover up to 80% of their staff’s wages, capped at £2,500 a month.
HMRC has set up a new online portal which opened at 7am, and the Treasury says funds to pay workers will land in a company’s bank account within six working days.
Business groups said that delays in payments could prove disastrous for British companies.
Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Our research indicates that two-thirds of firms have furloughed some portion of their workforce.
“With April’s payday approaching, it is essential that the application process is smooth and that payments are made as soon as possible.”
Rain Newton-Smith, the Confederation of British Industry’s chief economist, said: “Ensuring support gets to where it’s needed most – fast – is of the utmost importance.”
The Government said the HMRC portal is simple to use and offers a step-by-step application process.
Up to 5,000 staff are manning call centres and an online live chat service to ensure any questions can be answered.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured) said: “Our unprecedented Job Retention Scheme will protect millions of jobs across the country and is now up and running.
“It’s vital that our economy gets up and running again as soon as it’s safe – and this scheme will allow that to happen.”