If you’re a self-employed individual and your work has been affected by coronavirus, you may be able to get financial help and assistance from the government.
If you’ve lost out on income or had to stop working to look after someone, you could get 80 per cent of your average profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month under the government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.
But what other help and assistance can the self-employed receive during the coronavirus pandemic? Here’s everything you need to know.
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
Under SEISS, self-employed individuals can apply for taxable grants to combat income loss if they meet the following eligibility criteria:
- You must have filed a tax return for 2018/19 – This means you must have been self-employed prior to 6 April 2019. If you only had a few months of self-employment on your 2018/19 return, this will be counted as your total profit for the year.
- You must earn more than 50 per cent of your total income from self-employment – For either your 2018/19 tax return or, if not, the average of your 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 tax returns.
- Your average trading profit must be less than £50,000/year – Those over this threshold won’t be able to get support from the scheme.
- Applications open Wednesday 13th May – Payments will likely be backdated to cover March, April and May, while the scheme itself is set to last for at least three further months.
- Unlike the employee scheme, you can keep working – HMRC says it only expects people to use SEISS if they’ve been negatively impacted and will introduce checks to prevent fraud.
- You can also apply for universal credit – The amount of universal credit you receive will decrease once you start receiving SEISS.
HMRC has started contacting around 3.5m people who may be eligible to receive the backdated cash grant by letter, email or text message. If your claim is successful, payments should reach bank accounts by May 25, or six working days after the claim is made.
“It is excellent news that the government will tell people early if they are eligible for the SEISS. This is unexpected and welcome given just how complex it is to implement a new initiative on this scale,” said Andy Chamberlain, director of policy at the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed.
“While many self-employed people will get a wave of relief from receiving these early notifications, it is vital we do not lose sight of the many others who are not getting the support they need. Limited company contractors, the newly self-employed and those who have earned just over £50,000 per annum have been left out in the cold and urgently need more financial support,” he said.
What if you’re not eligible for SEISS?
If you earn more than £50,000 a year, or if less than half of your income is from self-employment, you won’t be eligible for SEISS.
In this case, HMRC has said it will provide help and guidance with other support that might be available, such as income tax deferrals, rental support, universal credit, access to mortgage holidays and the various business support schemes that the government has introduced to protect businesses during the pandemic.
Visit HMRC for more information.