HMRC Stakeholder Digest – 22 December 2021

22 Dec 2021

Please see the following message which we are sharing on behalf of HMRC:

This HMRC Stakeholder Digest provides a round-up of our latest news and updates, which we’d be grateful if you could share with your clients, customers or members. 

The Government has set up a dedicated support page where businesses can find the right support, advice and information to help with the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

£1 billion in support for businesses most impacted by Omicron across the UK 

The government has announced additional economic support to help businesses most affected by the Omicron variant of coronavirus: 

  • businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises, and more than £100 million discretionary funding will be made available for local authorities to support other businesses 
  • the government will also cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for coronavirus-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK 
  • £30 million further funding will be made available through the Culture Recovery Fund, enabling more cultural organisations in England to apply for support during the winter. 

There is also continuing financial support. More information can be found on GOV.UK. 

Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

If an employer has fewer than 250 employees, and they’ve paid Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to their employees for absences linked to coronavirus-related sickness or self-isolation, they could be eligible for support. 

They will receive repayments at the relevant standard rate of SSP that they paid to their current or former employees for any eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 21 December 2021.  

Employers will be able to reclaim the costs for up to two weeks of SSP for an employee who takes time off because of coronavirus, regardless of whether they claimed for that employee under the previous scheme. 

They will be able to make claims retrospectively from mid-January.  

Full guidance, including eligibility and how to make a claim, will be published on GOV.UK in due course. In the meantime, employers can find out more information about COVID-19 economic support package on GOV.UK. 

Time to Pay arrangements

If a customer is facing difficulty in making a tax payment, HMRC stands ready to support any business impacted by the coronavirus pandemic through our Time to Pay arrangements, where they can pay what they owe in affordable instalments.  

We will consider offering businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in particular the option of a short delay, and payment in instalments, on a case by case basis, as part of this. More information about Time to Pay is available on GOV.UK. 

Full customs controls start on 1 January 2022

From 1 January 2022, full customs declarations will be needed on all imports from the EU. Current arrangements will continue to apply to goods moving from the island of Ireland to Great Britain while discussions on the Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP) are continuing. 

This week, HMRC has written to traders to remind them of the changes to customs controls and how they might affect the way goods are imported and exported. 

The changes coming into force on 1 January 2022 include: 

  • Requirement for full customs import declarations for all goods at the time traders or their courier/freight forwarder bring them into Great Britain, except if they are non-controlled goods imported from Ireland to Great Britain
  • Making sure traders (or their agent) submit the correct customs export declaration if they are exporting goods
  • Customs controls at all ports and other border locations
  • Requirement for a suppliers’ declaration proving the origin of goods (either UK or EU) if traders are using the zero tariffs agreed in the UK’s trade deal with the EU
  • Commodity codes, which are used to classify goods for customs declarations, are changing. 

Further information explaining these changes, what they mean for businesses, and how to prepare, is available on GOV.UK. 

Corporation Tax and VAT

Earlier in December, we ran a trial reducing the hours on some of our telephony services. This meant we could dedicate the time to work post that has built up over the past year. To test the approach, we closed our Value Added Tax (VAT) (with the exception of the bereavement line), and Corporation Tax (CT) phone lines on 3,10 and 17 December.

By dedicating colleagues to post queues, we have been able to focus on delays in processing CT repayments and VAT post which we acknowledge were areas of concern for customers and agents. We made solid progress and worked through 14,000 post items.

Over the coming weeks, we will analyse the data from this trial in more detail and commit to sharing an update in January detailing our findings and next steps. We will not undertake any new shuttering until the end of January at the earliest.


We are pausing most of our webchat for three months from Tuesday 4 January 2022. We’ll use this pause to fully review our services to make sure we are helping our customers in the most effective way possible.

Webchat is effective when we use it to answer simple queries, which supports customers to use our digital services.  

Supporting customers with complex queries has proven to be inefficient - for example supporting PAYE, customers with coding queries takes 84% longer via webchat than it does over the phone. Other examples include payments in Child Benefit and Registrations in VAT both taking around 50% longer.  

Webchat is most effective when we use it to educate and coach customers in using our digital tools, and we know that this is what we need to build on. We’ll use this pause to fully review our services to make sure we are helping our customers in the most effective way possible.  

The following lines will remain open: 

  • Online Services Helpdesk 
  • Self Assessment 
  • National Clearance Hub 
  • Imports and Exports 
  • Debt Management 
  • Extra Support 
  • Support for pandemic-related activity will continue 


We are developing a dashboard to give tax agents a high-level overview of our service status. We will launch this in mid-January and we will give you more detail in the new year. 

What happens next?

We will continue to keep a close eye on our progress, responding to any issues as we go.