The Construction Industry Coronavirus (CICV) Forum has praised the “speed and efficiency” of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme rollout but warns the real test lies ahead
CICV – set up to support Scotland’s construction industry during the current pandemic – said the successful launch of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme by HMRC last week could provide a “vital lifeline” to companies across the country.
Since the HMRC portal opened on 20 April, more than 140,000 companies employing around a million workers have applied to the furlough scheme. The cost of about £1bn is expected to rise significantly as more companies take up the offer.
Fears seem unfounded
Vaughan Hart, managing director of forum member Scottish Building Federation and chair of the Forum Employment sub-group, said: “The forum wishes to record its appreciation of the intense amount of work that has been undertaken behind the scenes by HMRC to so effectively address a situation that, just a few short weeks ago, nobody could have envisaged.
“Fears that the system might be overwhelmed seem unfounded as the rollout and handling seems to have gone smoothly so far.
“Feedback also seems to suggest that payments are now being made as scheduled, so fingers crossed this continues and a vital lifeline is successfully delivered.”
Andrew Renwick, managing director of Caltech Lifts, and member of the Forum Employment sub-group, commented: “The revenue has taken on a mammoth task and seems to have made a really good start, demonstrating admirable speed and efficiency.
“The circumstances have been unprecedented and it is very gratifying to see the importance that government attaches to the small businesses which are the lifeblood of the economy.
“However, the job is still only half done, and the real test will come over the next week or so when it will become clear if funds are paid out on time to those who need them most.”
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme means that employers who cannot maintain their current workforce because their operations have been severely affected can “furlough” employees and apply for a grant that covers 80% of their usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance and pension contributions.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is temporary, in place for four months starting from 1 March, but it may be extended if necessary and employers can use this scheme at any time during this period.