Self-Employment and COVID-19

The Prime Minster said this Government we would do whatever it takes to protect people’s jobs and incomes. This is why the Chancellor has announced tonight a brand new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme – helping many of our country’s self-employed workers: the musicians, the sound engineers, the plumbers, the electricians, the taxi drivers, the hairdressers, the childminders, the driving instructors and many others.Through this new scheme, this Government will pay self-employed people a grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month – which is unlike almost any other country and makes our scheme one of the most generous in the world.

We know there are challenging times ahead, but we are confident the measures we have put in place will support millions of people, businesses and self-employed workers to get through this and emerge on the other side. Here are the highlights:

  • We are launching the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, to make sure people who work for themselves are getting the financial support they need. The Government will pay self-employed people across the whole UK who have been adversely affected by coronavirus a grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month, for three months – but we will extend it for longer if necessary.
  • We will make it simple for self-employed people to get the financial support they need. Self-employed people who are eligible will be contacted by HMRC directly, asked to fill out a simple online form, and HMRC will pay the grant directly into their bank account. We expect people to access the scheme by the beginning of June.
  • We are ensuring our support reaches those self-employed people who are most in need of it. The scheme will only be open to those with trading profits up to £50,000, leaving 95 per cent of people who are majority self-employed eligible for the scheme. HMRC will also ask people to demonstrate that the majority of their income comes from self-employment, and, to minimise fraud, only those who are already in self-employment, and who have a tax return for 2019, will be able to apply.

This builds on the support already available to self-employed people:

  • For self-employed people who are struggling now, we’ve also made sure that many will be able to access loans through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme. This scheme provides loans of up to £5 million, which will be interest free for twelve months.
  • Supporting people through the welfare system so that nobody is penalised for doing the right thing. We will make it quicker and easier to access benefits. Those on contributory ESA will be able to claim from day 1, instead of day 8. And we are relaxing the requirement for anyone to physically attend a jobcentre – everything can be done by phone or online.
  • Suspending the minimum income floor for twelve months – meaning self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate that is equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees.
  • Deferring income tax self-assessment payments for July until the end of January 2021.

 We have been working directly with the Federation of Small Businesses, the association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, and the Trades Union Congress. Providing such unprecedented support for self-employed people is operationally very challenging. The self-employed are a very diverse population and they have a wide mix of different levels of income, which even in normal times can vary hugely from month to month.

 HMRC are working day and night to get this scheme up and running. HMRC are also delivering other key schemes to a similar timescale, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Statutory Sick Pay rebate for employers. The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme also allows late tax filers a month to get their 2018-19 tax returns in within 4 weeks of the announcement of the scheme, which also creates some delay.

Please keep up to date with the Government  website and the Coronavirus page: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response