PCS has welcomed the Home Office increase in homeworking allowance and given a cautious welcome to temporary homeworking expenses arrangements.
PCS has had a longstanding position to seek to increase the Home Office homeworking allowance of £113 per annum (which is taxable). A motion debated at PCS Home Office conference in 2018 instructed the GEC to negotiate increases in home working allowances for all of those working both permanently at home and for those who are working from home less frequently.
While the Home Office have not yet accepted to pay a daily rate for anyone temporarily working from home PCS has broadly welcomed the recent announcement to increase the annual allowance for staff who are contractually permanently based at home to £312 per annum (£26 per month).
Homeworking expenses (temporary)
After the Home Office were approached about staff being able to claim £26 per month tax relief for job expenses incurred due to working from home as a result of COVID the department have published guidance on how staff can claim through the Home Office for ‘out of pocket expenses up to £6 per week. Expenses can be claimed based on costs incurred from 1 October 2020. This is a temporary policy running up to 31 March 2021, when it will be reviewed.
However the Home Office have stated this expenses policy is for employees whose additional household expenses exceed their travel to work cost savings (i.e. for those employees who are genuinely out of pocket as a result of being asked to work from home during the pandemic). Therefore, claiming anything up to the £6 per week will need to exclude any travel expenses that you would normally have incurred if you had been travelling your usual workplace. PCS feel that with this stipulation it will benefit very few staff by excluding most from being able to claim anything as their usual travel costs would be in excess of £6 per week.
While PCS welcome any additional financial support to staff, especially as the government have held down pay increases for a number of years, PCS suggest members also check the gov.uk website for tax relief for employees to see if claiming tax relief for your job expenses via the online form maybe more financially beneficial rather than using the Home Office scheme.