What financial support do self-employed workers have during the coronavirus pandemic?

These are the new and existing financial measures self-employed people can use if their income is impacted by COVID-19.

27 March 2020

On March 26, the Chancellor announced a support package for self-employed workers. This follows a period of suspense whilst the Government was criticised for failing to provide help for this category in his announcements last week for the employed. Rishi Sunak opened the announcement with the words: “You have not been forgotten. We all stand together.” He explained that creating this particular scheme was tough due to the “diverse nature of the self-employed population.”

What can I expect as a self-employed person?

A grant worth 80% of your average monthly profits, a maximum of £2,500 a month. For a more detailed guide on the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS), take a look at our guide

The support will match that announced for furloughed workers on 20th March who are also eligible for a grant worth 80%. Please visit our article on small business finance during the coronavirus outbreak to read more about this as well as other measures available for businesses.

Who is eligible?

95% of people who are majority self-employed will benefit from this scheme.

To be eligible you must have:

  • Trading profits of no more than £50,000
  • More than half of your income from self-employment
  • A tax return for 2019.

Sunak stated he believed these measures are both “deliverable and fair”. He noted that the 5% of people not covered by the scheme have an average income of £200,000.

When will these measures be put into place?

The Chancellor announced that the money will be available no later than June 2020. The grant will be backdated, covering the months of March, April and May.

How can I access the support available?

You do not need to apply for this. HMRC will contact those eligible with an online form, then pay the grant as a lump sum straight into your bank account.

What help is available right now for the self employed?

  • You can access Universal Credit in full. This has been increased to match the level of statutory sick pay.
  • You can access the business interruption loans. Read more about this in our article on how to access finance.
  • Income tax payments due in July can be deferred to the end of January 2021. If you pay by direct debit, then cancel this in good time if you’re unable to pay.
  • You can access grants for businesses that pay little or no business rates through the Small Business Grant Scheme. Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant.
  • Anyone who missed the filing deadline in January has four weeks from the announcement yesterday to submit their tax return.
  • HMRC have set up a tax helpline which both businesses and self-employed people can use. The phone line is open between 8am and 4pm, with 2,000 people available to take the calls.

You can read more about all the available government support schemes here.

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Charlotte is a Senior PR & Communications specialist at iwoca. She's been sharing news and insights about the finance industry for over three years.

Article updated on: 7 April 2020

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