Back in August, the Child Poverty Action Group flagged up a problem caused by the interaction between an employer’s choice of pay dates and their employee’s entitlement to universal credit. Although the recent budget did include some changes to universal credit, this particular problem wasn’t addressed. So, what can employers do about it?
Universal Credit is a monthly payment that is replacing six benefits, including Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. It gives essential support for people who need it, including those in low paid jobs. However, the way it is calculated makes it highly sensitive to the exact dates when the worker is paid. As a result, employers choosing certain pay patterns can inadvertently make life very difficult for staff who receive Universal Credit.
The Government Gateway is a collection of computers which work together in order to accept electronic submissions on behalf of HMRC and other government departments.
It was launched in 2001, and our system has been sending payroll returns to the gateway since 2005, starting with the old year end forms P14 and P35. The format of the submissions has changed many times over the years and, since 2013, it has been in the form of Real Time Information (RTI). After nearly 17 years of service, it will soon be time for the Government Gateway to retire. According to HMRC’s plan, the gateway will stop accepting RTI submissions on the 14th February, 2018.
Nearly all employers now report their payroll information to HMRC via Real Time Information (RTI). The introduction of RTI is widely acknowledged to be the biggest change to PAYE since 1944. Most employers started reporting via RTI in 2013 and HMRC has since conducted a post-implementation review. The resulting report was published last week and this shows what went well, and also what didn’t go so well. It explains the ways in which government departments use the information that RTI gives them, and how it may be employed in the future.
Last week, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, delivered his Autumn Budget speech. From a payroll perspective, there were no big surprises.
Universal Credit is a new payment that replaces 6 benefits, including Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. It has been under the spotlight recently, with MPs pointing out some of its problems and calling for a delay in the planned roll-out. Universal Credit is designed to reduce automatically if an employee’s income increases and, for this reason, its success is dependent on employers reporting their payroll information via Real Time Information.
I was recently asked what advice I’d give somebody who is starting a new business and hiring his or her first employee. As you’d probably expect from someone whose business is payroll software, my answer was about the importance of organising your payroll.
When Real Time Information was first introduced, we were told it would save businesses hundreds of millions of pounds, make tax more accurate, reduce tax credits over-payments, enable dynamic adjustment of Universal Credits, move the planets into alignment and bring about world peace. Okay, maybe not the last two.
With such ambitious aims and a very short timescale for implementation, nobody should be surprised that the result wasn’t perfect.
New customers switch their payrolls to our system at all times of the year but there is always a peak at the start of a new tax year. This is because payroll works one tax year at a time, accumulating information as the tax year goes on and then resetting it for the start of the next.