14/05/2020

110,000 apply for self-employment grant in four hours

14/05/2020

110,000 apply for self-employment grant in four hours

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Yesterday, government support for freelancers and self-employed workers across the UK opened to a staggering 110,000 applications in its first morning.

Announced on 26 March, the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) offers a vital lifeline for sole traders and self-employed freelancers to recoup some of their losses as a result of the coronavirus outbreeak. It allows workers to claim a grant of up to £2,500 per month.

Recent ONS data suggests that there are around 5 million self-employed people in the UK, and already over 3.5 million people have been invited by HMRC to submit an application for assistance via the scheme

From hairdressers and builders to florists and photographers, self-employed workers have been some of the hardest hit by the virus, with lockdown making it impossible for many to earn.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed yesterday, “We’re working ahead of time to deliver support to the self-employed and from today, applications open for the millions of people eligible for the scheme.

With payments arriving before the end of this month, self-employed across the UK will have money in their pockets to help them through these challenging times.”

National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses Mike Cherry welcomed the scheme’s early opening, saying, “The self-employment income support scheme represents a lifeline for the millions of self-employed people who are expected to qualify. I would encourage all those who think they are eligible to use the online checker if they’ve not done so yet, and to apply on the date allocated.

“We are particularly pleased to see the scheme opening earlier than scheduled, with a simple fast-track application and a promise for speedy payment. Getting the system designed and built ahead of schedule is impressive. Just like the Job Retention Scheme portal we hope it will cope with the high expected demand. I would like to pay tribute to the staff of HMRC for the behind the scenes work to get this scheme off the ground.”

How do I apply for self-employment support?

The majority of eligible self-employed workers will have been contacted by HMRC via a text, email or letter inviting them to apply. This communication will include the date you can apply from, which will fall between 13 and 18 May.

Don’t worry if you want to continue working – you’re allowed to do so, and can continue earning even if your application is successful. However, you will have to confirm that your ability to earn has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic when you apply.

If you haven’t received any communication from HMRC yet, you can double-check if you can apply by using this eligibility checker on the HMRC website.

And if you haven’t heard anything by 15 May, it could be worth contacting HMRC directly to find out why. Bear in mind they will be incredibly busy during this period.

How much money will I get from the SEISS grant? 

The maximum amount that eligible recipients can get is £2,500 per month for three months, which will be paid in a one-off BACs payment of £7,500. Bear in mind that this amount is subject to the usual income tax and class 4 National Insurance contributions.

Your amount will be calculated using the tax returns you’ve submitted for the past three years, although if you haven’t a full three years of filing information to go on, HMRC may base it on just the most recent returns.

You also have to have been in profit. If you made a loss overall, you won’t receive a payout.

What information do I need to claim SEISS?

If you’ve received confirmation you can claim SEISS, you’ll also need the following information:

  • The login details for your Government Gateway account
  • Your unique tax reference (UTR) number
  • The sort code and account number of the account you’d like your BACs payment to go into
  • Your National Insurance number

Remember, you won’t be able to apply for support until after the date and time specified on your government invite.

Who is eligible for self-employment support?

These are the eligibility criteria set out by the HMRC to determine who can apply for the scheme. All of the following must apply in order for you to have a valid claim:

  • At the very least, half of your income must come from self-employment.
  • You cannot have profits of more than £50,000 in a year.
  • You’ll have already submitted your 2018/19 tax return with information about your self-employed profits.
  • You intend to continue trading for the 2020/21 tax year.

You will also need to confirm that the coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on your profits. This could be because you’ve had to:

  • Self-isolate, or take time off on sick leave
  • Look after someone because of coronavirus
  • Stop trading because of lockdown impositions

I don’t meet the eligibility criteria. What now?

In April, the Scottish government made £220 million pounds available to help businesses struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

An amount of £100 million has been specifically allocated to catch those recently self-employed, SME and micro businesses that have fallen through the gaps and are unable to get any other form of government support.

To be considered for the Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund, you’ll need to apply to your local authority. There’s no cost to apply, and if you’re successful, you could receive a one-off payment of £2,000 to help you through financial hardship. If you think this could be an option for you, you can apply via your local authority website.

It might also be possible to delay your income tax and VAT payments, apply for a business interruption loan from the government, or find a grant for businesses that don’t pay rates.

If, like many freelance and self-employed workers across the UK, you’ve been left facing financial hardship, you may have concerns about paying off your debts. The experienced debt specialists at Carrington Dean can help. For free debt advice and reassurance, contact the team on 0808 2234 102 today.

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