Wake up to changes, warns the FSB

A quarter of small Scottish firms do not know about major payroll changes coming into force next year, according to a Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) survey.

Figures for Scotland from a UK-wide survey showed that one in four (26 per cent) of respondents had never heard of the ‘Real Time Information’ (RTI) programme – the new way of reporting payroll – while a further 18 per cent stated that, though they’d heard of it, they had little idea of what RTI meant for their business.

RTI is a new programme designed by HMRC to gather regular information about employees. The programme aims to simplify reporting new starters and leavers, making the payroll process less burdensome. It will also support the payment of Universal Credits to those who receive them – although two thirds (66 per cent) of UK respondents to the FSB’s survey are not confident that RTI will achieve these objectives.

Of the 1,700 small firms with employees surveyed UK-wide, only 16 per cent of respondents were fully aware of RTI and a quarter (25 per cent) had never heard of it, despite it being critical to the success of Universal Credit.

Andy Willox OBE, the Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) Scottish policy convener, said: “With around five months until RTI is due to be implemented, the FSB has concerns that not enough businesses are aware that it is just around the corner. This system is linked to the UK Government’s flagship Universal Credit scheme and we’re concerned that it could flop if government does not step up its game in communicating the changes.

“There are a number of steps that a business must complete before they can provide Real Time Information to HMRC so it is critical that Scottish businesses get up to speed.

“HMRC and Scotland’s business support agencies need to act now so that all small firms can prepare.”