The extension to the furloughed workers scheme until at least the end of May has been welcomed across print in the UK. So too has the news that HMRC is today going live with the portal that allows companies to claim the government support.
HMRC reckons it will begin making payments four to six working days after a claim has been submitted. And it is confident that the website is both robust enough and clear enough to help businesses through the claim process.
The site has been under text for two weeks and has been developed to cope with 450,000 submissions an hour. HMRC staff have been deployed to help handle any inquiries and deal with confusion that may arise.
The development also follows on from a meeting between officials at the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy and a team from the IPIA/BAPC. The print confederation told government officials what would be required to keep its members in business through the pandemic period and its aftermath.
This help includes: a Government backed book debt loan scheme, 12 month suspension of auto enrolment pension fees; suspension of VAT on print and marketing collateral for two years after the lock down ends and a substantial increase in capital equipment allowances.
IPIA chairman Graeme Smith called the encounter “very productive” and that it “inspired a tremendous amount of confidence in the Government’s plans to support industries such as ours”. It explained that a phasing out of the furlough scheme was under consideration. “BEIS also recognised that the print industry is a decisive barometer for the health of every other sector of our economy and is intrinsically linked with each of the UK’s major industrial bases.”
The team had the chance to make the point that the CBILS was not effective as it currently stands, with difficulty in accessing the funds. In turn the BEIS explained that the issues were being tackled, with a step forward anticipated over the next couple of weeks.
The Government department responsible for business met reprsentatives from the IPA and BAPC last week and gave encouraging indications that it understood the plight of the printing industry as the associations made a pitch for greater flexibility and further help.