Limited company furlough scheme users face public ‘naming and numbering’
Every company that uses the government’s furlough scheme faces having potentially sensitive information about their business made public.
Accountant Tim Stovold of Moore Kingston Smith says the new disclosure aspect of the scheme is something most firms have missed, despite it applying to claims from December.
Another tax expert, Jesminara Rahman of Tax Resolute confirms: “HMRC intends to publish details of employers who use the CJRS for claim periods from December 2020.
“[The effect will be that] employees will be able to find out if their employer has claimed for them under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.”
'Easier to whistle-blow'
For limited companies, it means HMRC will publish their Companies House registration number, alongside their employer name and an “indication” of their claim’s value.
“A public register of businesses using the furlough scheme will make it easier for employees to whistle-blow where they believe their employer may be abusing the scheme”, Mr Stovold said.
“However, before making a claim under the scheme, businesses should consider whether public knowledge of their reliance on governmental support in this area could be interpreted negatively”.
That interpretation could arise for firms set to report strong profits in the hoped-for recovery of next year, added the accountant, calling the to-be-made public data “potentially sensitive”..
Gerrish Legal, a law firm specialising in information law, told ContractorUK that most one-person limited companies should not be too alarmed, however.
“There should not be personal data involved….[as according to the HMRC] guidance employee data will not be shared, only company names, and company numbers, which is not personal data under the Data Protection Act or the GDPR.”
The firm’s legal consultant Lily Morrison added; “[That said, it’s ] definitely something for companies to consider….but hopefully it will not put them off relying on the furlough scheme if it is something they do need, as there should not be any data protection concerns.”