Accountants under pressure to process payroll claims

Accountants under pressure to process payroll claims

Thousands of government scheme applications means accountants face extreme pressure to submit clients’ claim on time

Accountants under pressure to process payroll claims

As the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) portal opened last Monday, accountants have encountered a high demand from clients to prepare payroll documents on time.

“One of the issues, when looking at the job retention scheme itself, is about getting the payrolls and the submissions process in time. A lot of our clients, understandably, wanted to submit their claim as soon as the portal opened on Monday, but there was still a lot of detail in terms of the rules around the system that was coming out around the time,” says Bhimal Hira, business development partner at Jeffreys Henry.

“We were trying to persuade clients to wait a couple more days because their claim could be incorrect. It was a bit of a battle.”

Accountant’s workload has also been subject to increased pressure due to other government scheme applications, such as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (CBILS) in which banks’ strict demand of eligibility proof has left clients become impatient and worried.

“Many businesses across the board are now applying for the coronavirus loan through banks, and the banks are asking for documents such as cash flow projections, management accounts, and end accounts. We’ve had to accelerate our process of getting that done.

“The client expects that back in the same day. In reality, you can’t turn that around in such a short time frame. Yes, we will accelerate the process, but it can be done within a matter of minutes,” says Hira.

Businesses in the hospitality and leisure sector have been particularly desperate to submit the CJRS claim, according to Hira. “A lot of these clients are panicking, as they have got fixed overheads such as rent and salary cost.”

Government portal adds burden to accountants

Hira believes the government portable enables businesses and accountants to submit claims “as quickly and easily as possible,” but says that gathering activation codes for the claims was the “most cumbersome process.”

While businesses with 100 or more staff can upload their spreadsheet to the portal, small scale enterprises are required to manually enter the information of furloughed individuals – a burden for accountants that must process thousands of claims.

“It would have been easier to upload a spreadsheet for all the clients’ data to the payroll software, instead of having to manually process that,” says Hira.

Checking the status of the claim would also be extremely beneficial for clients, particularly as businesses struggle to maintain cash during lockdown.

“A lot of our clients are worried about when the money is going to be paid. It would be good if the portal said whether the claim has been approved or not and if it has been scheduled for payment, so that we can plan ahead,” says Hira.

Despite the increasing pressure put on accountants, Hira says it is a “great time for accountants to shine and show their clients what value they can provide” as clients become “heavily reliant on professional advisors.”

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