What help is available for Self-employed workers?
30th March, 2020
Following a huge spike in the number of people applying for Universal Credit, and calls from the business community for more to be done, the Government has announced a new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) that will bring a level of parity to individuals whose income has been negatively affected by COVID-19.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has introduced a taxable grant worth 80 per cent of average profits, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month, for those who are majority self-employed – meaning the majority of their income came from self-employment.
Am I eligible for the scheme?
Although the scheme appears to be broadly similar to the financial support employed workers are able to receive, the government has introduced specific criteria that means some workers may not qualify for this particular source of funding. However, The Chancellor has stated that he believes 95 per cent of self-employed workers will be eligible for this scheme.
To be eligible for the scheme you must currently meet the following criteria –
- Be self-employed or a member of partnership;
- Have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19;
- Filed a tax return for 2018-19 as self-employed or a member of a trading partnership. Those who have not yet filed for 2018-19 will have an additional 4 weeks from March 26, 2020 to do so;
- Have traded in 2019-20; be currently trading at the point of application (or would be except for COVID 19) and intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021;
- Have trading profits of less than £50,000 and more than half of your total income come from self-employment. This can be with reference to at least one of the following conditions:
- Your trading profits and total income in 2018/19
- Your average trading profits and total income across up to the three years between 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19.
How do I access the Scheme?
Unlike the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, individuals are not required to contact HMRC directly. Instead, HMRC will use existing information from 2018-19 returns already submitted to check potential eligibility and invite applications once the scheme is operational.
You cannot apply for this scheme, and government advice is to not contact HMRC to relieve pressure and avoid any delays to the work currently being undertaken to introduce the scheme.
When will I receive my grant?
If you are deemed as eligible for the grant, you will be invited to apply for the scheme, requiring you to confirm you meet eligibility requirements and outlining payment details and the amount you will receive. This grant will be paid directly to eligible workers bank accounts by HMRC. This is expected to begin from the beginning of June 2020 with payments being backdated.
HMRC are publishing regularly updated guidance on the scheme, available here.
How can we assist?
An increasing number of clients are contacting Aaron & Partners’ employment law team with issues relating to COVID-19. If you are experiencing difficulties, we have the expertise to assist you in dealing with these concerns.
Date: 27 March 2020