Government support for self-employed people

Looks like there has been some movement in Parliament in terms of providing much needed support for self-employed people in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’re keeping an eye on this and will share any new info as it comes out…

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/58-01/0122/amend/coronavirus_daily_cwh_0320rev.14-18.html

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Good update from Martin Lewis on the current situation, worth a watch: https://twitter.com/MartinSLewis/status/1242385553452150785

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Whilst we wait for the next announcement from the government on support for the self-employed, we’ve summarised everything we know so far. We’ll keep adding to this as new information becomes available.

Have any of these measures been helpful for anyone yet?

Coronavirus: Help for self-employed workers to be unveiled on Thursday

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Thanks @lukeworsfold. We’re watching closely today and we’ll share an overview as soon as it’s announced!

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Self-Employed Income Support Announced

Whilst there is some welcome news for part of the self-employed community we believe the government could (and should) do more.

We’ll share our views and what we’re doing to try to make it happen. But first, here’s an overview of the support the UK Government is providing for the self-employed community.

How does it work?

  • Self-employed people will be able to apply for a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits, up to £2,500 a month.
  • HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 to calculate the size of the grant.
  • In addition to the taxable grant, if you are able to trade you can continue to do so.
  • Payments will be paid by June (backdated to the 1st of March).
  • For those struggling with cash flow in the meantime, the Chancellor recapped some of the other support measures available; business interruption loans, deferred payments on account until January 2021 and Universal Credit (see more below).

Who can get it?

  • Self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by Covid-19.
  • This will be available for those with trading profits of up to £50,000.
  • If you have trading profits of over £50,000, you will not be eligible for support (the chancellor suggested this would affect ~5% of the self-employed workforce).
  • You need to have completed your 2018/19 tax return. If you haven’t yet, you get an additional four weeks from today to complete it.

What happens next?

  • HMRC are working on it urgently, and it’s expected no later than the beginning of June.
  • If you’re eligible, HMRC will contact you directly, ask you to fill out an online form, then pay the grant straight into your bank account.

We’ll be sharing more information on our COVID-19 support page as more information on the detail is released.

We believe the government can do more

It certainly feels like a generous package for some and we’re grateful to the Chancellor for a fast response. However, there are some big holes in the plan.

  • There are millions who cannot wait until June to receive support. We will be writing another letter to the Treasury committee to push for this to be changed.
  • By only relying on 3 years of Self-Assessments up to 5th April 2019, those who became self-employed more recently may only have partial earnings to go on or could be missed entirely.

We will also lobby the government to encourage them to allow self-employed people to submit their 2019/20 Self-Assessment when the window opens on the 6th April and use this up-to-date data for consideration in their application for support, increasing the number of self-employed people that are eligible.

We have the technology to support the fast creation of Self-Assessments, and we’re working to make it more widely available now.

Sign up here to follow our progress on this.

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It looks like people who made a loss are not eligible.
I have been self employed since 2010 but for 2 of the qualifying periods I made a loss. The 18/19 year I made a profit. Will the scheme cover that?

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I registered with the HMRC as self employed May '19 after being an employee for over 10 years in my industry. The SEISS has therefore excluded me and left me forgotten.

I have spent my savings and the past 10months working so hard to build my business up from the ground. Now I find myself unable to work as I’m homeschooling my children and my customers have all but disappeared, my business is on its knees. I need help to support my family during this crisis. It is completely unfair that myself and other newly self employed have been forgotten by the goverment and not entitled to any support (apart from Universal Credit), unlike 95% of my competitors who have now been gifted a 80% grant and can still work.

I don’t understand why the goverment initiated a scheme thay has flaws and allows many who probably need the support the most to be excluded. I suspect they have tried to replicate the fantastic 80% employees furlough scheme and to be seen as fair for all, it hasn’t worked. It would have been fairer for ALL self employed and not open to fraudulant claims if they had offered tax relief for all self employed on their 19/20 accounts, assuming that one informed the HMRC of their self employment prior to Feb. 29th 2020. With a tax relief I could take out a loan now to provide instant cash and pay it back with the monies saved on taxes on my imminent self assessment. I’m also not entirely sure where the fraud loophole is that has resulted in the exclusion of 19/20 accounts. Surely if one was to claim fraudulent profit to get more funding from the SEISS then would they not just end up paying it back on increased taxes with interest? The only scenario I can think of is if one claims that their profit is < the £12k personal allowance. I would suggest that these claims should be investigated. I can prove every expense and incoming for the last 10 months trading, I would expect others to be able to prove theirs too.

Once this crisis is over and hopefully Covid-19 hasnt killed me, assuming that I’m still trading I think it is very likely that taxes will be increased to pay for all these grants that I was not eligible to claim in the first place. This will be yet another penalty for me and probably hurt more than anything else. The goverment need to keep their promise and in their words to do whatever it takes and make sure that no one will be forgotten.

“We will support jobs, we will support incomes, we will support businesses, we will help you protect your loved ones. We will do whatever it takes.”

“You will not be forgotten”

Rishi Sunak, The Chancellor Of The Exchequer.

Is there anything that I can do to try and get the newly self employed equal financial support? Please help I’m not sure what to do and feel that I’m stuck up proverbial creek without required paddle.

Am I eligible?

To be eligible for the scheme you must meet all the criteria below :

  • Have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19;

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How can they prove that then without taking 19/20 accounts into consideration?

@Jamie is there clear guidance from HMRC on this we can share?

Hi @Giles we know this is a really really tough time. I’m really sorry to hear how hard this has been for you.

We too feel it’s unfair not to include 2019/20 Self Assessments, and this is something we’re fighting for.

Earlier this week we conducted a survey and we’re using the data points to lobby the government for change (you can see the full results here: COVID-19 Self-Employed Income Support Scheme survey).

In addition to that, we’re launching a new free-to-use web tool on Monday (6 April) for non Coconut customers to quickly get the numbers they need to complete their self-assessment as quickly as possible (Coconut customers can get the same information from the app already).

Anyone who uses the tool will be able to connect their existing bank account from 20 major UK banks and within minutes, all transaction data from the last tax year (2019/20) will be analysed and categorised for tax giving a clear and simple overview of total income and total allowable expenses, ready for you to submit to gov.uk.

If you haven’t yet joined our campaign, you can sign up here and we’ll keep you posted with progress and what you can do to help as well: https://selfemployedincomesupport.co.uk/

Hi @Firesafe ,

Many thanks for your reply. So looking into this you still may be eligible here. As the eligibility states you must have the following:

  • have submitted your Income Tax Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19
  • traded in the tax year 2019-20
  • are trading when you apply, or would be except for COVID-19
  • intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-21
  • have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19

Your self-employed trading profits must also be less than £50,000 and more than half of your income come from self-employment. This is determined by at least one of the following conditions being true:

  • having trading profits/partnership trading profits in 2018-19 of less than £50,000 and these profits constitute more than half of your total taxable income
  • having average trading profits in 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 of less than £50,000 and these profits constitute more than half of your average taxable income in the same period

So if we look at this example you have losses for 16/17, 17/18 and then profit for 18/19. This will still possibly average out at a profit ( Check your circumstances of course) then effectively you will still be eligible as you meet the above criteria (as long as self employment contributes to more than half your average income). Or they only look at 18/19. There is actually very little detail around the specifics of the calculation but the most up to date GOV information on Self Employed Income Support Scheme can be [seen here].(https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme)

What we know is that HMRC will begin to outreach eligible individuals for the scheme, most likely after the late 18/19 tax returns come in after the 23rd April as this is the deadline for these. So just check your Gov gateway log in and ensure all your contact details are up to date.

James

Many thanks for that

I hope you’re all safe and well. I have this question that I am trying to get an answer for. I’ve tried so many different avenues but as yet, don’t have a definite answer. Basically I am freelance, earn 50% + income through SE and qualify for the governments SE scheme.

However I also worked for a company last year, earning £9800 and paid via PAYE. I’ve been offered to be furloughed by them, which will get me a fair chunk of income. However I am worried if I take the opportunity to be furloughed (and get a decent amount of pay from them), will I not then qualify for the SE scheme? (which I do qualify for). Appreciate everyone’s help at this time. Phil Barrett

Hi @Phil_Barrett

All safe and remote! I hope you are well and had a good weekend.

Many thanks for getting in touch with your query. So I have had a look at the legislation and cannot see any reason why you would not be able to be ’ furloughed’ from the Job Retention Scheme and receive support from the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS). As long as eligibility is hit for both schemes, It is likely that you will be able to receive both. The JRS solely relates to the PAYE element of your income and entirely separate to SEISS.

The key thing with the SEISS is that it is a taxable grant, so effectively you would need to declare this as income on your tax return for the period 20/21, payable 31st January 2022. This is why I believe you should be able to receive both pieces of support.

The government will be reaching out to those eligible for SEISS mid May so keep an eye out on more information around this at this time.

Kind Regards
James

Hi James, thanks so much for your reply this is probably the most informative information I’ve had on this topic, so thanks to you and Coconut for researching this. I work in events and as a freelancer, there are many many many people like me who are both self employed and PAYE with certain agencies.

There’s obviously no rule book to this current situation, but we’re all doing our best!

Thanks again!

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Hello

I was interested in the email that James sent out on Thursday about applications going live for bounce back loans this morning. It looked like a streamlined way of accessing funding if you have been impacted by COVID-19

I had a look at the lenders as detailed on the British business finance accredited lenders page and it appears you can only access funding if you are an existing business account holder with these banks. Surely that stops a large proportion of the people that really need this applying for funds.

Do you guys have any insight whether they will be opening this up to more lenders?

Thanks

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Hi @Urbanfox, the news that has been released so far today mentions just a few of the big banks. CBILS is distributed through 40+ accredited lenders including independents, so we’re hoping BBL will follow suit but we don’t have any insight on the future plans / announcements to confirm this. We’re following the news closely so we can keep everyone updated and help as much as we can, where we can.

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You can now use an online tool from HMRC to check if you are eligible to make a claim through SEISS.

You’ll need your:

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