During this difficult time for the country, we recognise the extreme disruption the necessary actions are having on people’s lives, their businesses, their jobs and the nation’s economy. And that’s why we have produced a huge and unprecedented programme of support both for workers and for business, and we’ll do everything we can to ensure people can pay their bills, stay in their home and put food on their table.
As I’m sure you can appreciate, providing support for self-employed people is operationally very challenging – everyone’s circumstances are very different. That’s why it has taken the Government slightly longer to work through these challenges, but I am pleased to be able to now outline the measures that the Chancellor has announced for self-employed people.
The Government will launch a Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, to make sure people who work for themselves are getting the financial support they need. Through the scheme, the Government will pay self-employed people across the whole of the UK who have been adversely affected by coronavirus a taxable grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 per month, for three months – but we will extend it if necessary.
In order to qualify for this support, you must have trading profits of less than £50,000 and HMRC will ask you to demonstrate that the majority of your income comes from self-employment. You must also have filed accounts for 2018-19 to qualify, although you have four weeks from now in which to do so if you have not already. If you are eligible, HMRC will contact you directly, and ask you to fill in a simple online form. They will pay the grant directly into your bank account.
The Government and HMRC are working day and night to get this scheme up and running – you will be able to access it by the beginning of June. I completely understand that you may be experiencing financial difficulties now, which is why the Government has taken a number of steps on Universal Credit, making it more accessible for the self-employed and more generous overall. It is also already the case that people can get an advance payment almost immediately after they claim if they need one, so they do not have to wait five weeks if they have pressing bills to pay. On top of this, the Government has also deployed extra resources into local authorities to help those who are most vulnerable with things like council tax bills, which can be a large bill for families every month.
Many self-employed people can also access business interruption loans, and self-assessment income tax payments due in July can be deferred to the end of January next year.
The Government has also announced measures to help people with the cost of living during this unprecedented time. Self-employed people can benefit from a three-month mortgage holiday and deferring the next three months of VAT, alongside further measures to protect renters and to help people with their energy bills.
As you can appreciate, this is a fast-moving situation. I would strongly advise you to check the Government website, at gov.uk/coronavirus, for the very latest guidance and support.