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How the Self-Employed are being supported through the Coronavirus Lockdown

When the Coronavirus pandemic began the Government were quick to announce the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which didn’t include the huge number of self-employed people living in the UK. To a huge sigh of relief from this group the Government announced a similar scheme for the self-employed called the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

The proposed grants that the Government have put in place for the self-employed are welcomed, although it has been some time since the lockdown to the first grant payment for this group. The self-employed may need to explore some of the other options announced by the Government if they have a more pressing need for cash flow – such as applying for a business interruption loan, deferring tax payments or accessing universal credit. There will also be some self-employed individuals who do not meet the criteria to qualify for grants under the new scheme and they will need to explore the other routes offered by the Government.

The office for National Statistics stated on the 17 April 2020 in their overview of self-employment in the UK, by the fourth quarter (Oct to Dec) of 2019 there were more than 5 million self-employed people in the UK, up from 3.2 million in 2000. Self–employment has contributed strongly to employment growth in the labour market, with self-employed people representing 15.3% of employment, up from 12% in 2000. These numbers demonstrate the importance of the Government scheme for this sizeable group.

Source:Ons.gov.uk

Get ready to claim the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will contact individuals who may be eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

The tax authority said that from 4 May 2020 onwards it will begin reaching out to those who can benefit from the scheme.

Eligibility Check

A self-employed individual must have trading profits of no more than £50,000 and must receive the majority of their income from self-employment. Individuals should not contact HMRC. HMRC will use existing information to check potential eligibility and invite applications once the scheme is operational.

To get an idea of whether an individual may be eligible for the funding, HMRC has created a new online tool that allows the self-employed and their agents, such as accountants, to check. To use the tool, please click here.

To use this service, individuals will need:

  • Their Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) and their National Insurance Number
  • To ensure their details are up-to-date in their Government Gateway account.

Once an individual, or their agent, has completed the eligibility check they will be given a date from which the individual can submit their claim.

How the Claims Service will work?

The claims service, which will help millions of self-employed people access the SEISS, will open on 13 May 2020 and it will be down to each individual to make a claim on their own behalf.

If, your accountants or agents file your tax return you may not have a Government Gateway Account. Individuals are required to make the claim themselves, and if they don’t have a Gateway account they should do this as soon as possible. You can do this by clicking here.

HMRC has said the claims process will be simple and that those individuals that are eligible for the scheme will see the grant paid into their bank account within six working days of completing a claim. 

What will the Self Employed Scheme pay individuals?

The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) pays self-employed individuals an amount equivalent to up to 80% of their average monthly trading profits, capped at £2,500, to cover at least three months from March 2020.

This will essentially provide a taxable grant worth 80 per cent of their average trading profits up to a maximum of £7,500 the amount will be paid in a single lump-sum in June and will be based upon self-assessment tax returns from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Exclusions

People who pay themselves a salary and dividends through their own company will not be eligible for the scheme but could be eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if they use PAYE. The scheme is only intended for those who have lost trading profits due to COVID-19.

The ONS have also calculated that of all the self-employed people, 87% (4.3 million) said that they have been self-employed since before April 2018. A further 9% reported starting self-employment between April 2018 and March 2019 and if they submitted a tax return for the tax year ending 2019 and other criteria are met, these people will be eligible for SEISS. Around 3% (151,000) have been self-employed only since after the tax year ending 2019, meaning they are not eligible for the scheme. Source: ons.gov.uk

Millions of people have seen their working lives change dramatically since the lockdown begun. These measures have been put in by the Government in the hope that these schemes will enable us to restart our economy and to protect jobs and businesses across the UK as much as possible.

If you need support with checking eligibility or calculating your trading profits and income for the scheme, please contact us at Seymour Taylor.

This blog is for guidance only, professional advice should be obtained before acting on any information contained herein. The information was correct at time of publishing (11 May 2020).