Nick Marshall, director and business adviser at Beatons, looks at how the self-employed are being helped to keep their heads above water.
The self-employed appeared to have been rather overlooked in early discussions of financial help offered during the coronavirus pandemic.
But a package has now been unveiled for people just like you who have seen their income affected by the health crisis.
Self-employed workers can now apply for a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits to help them cope with the financial impact of coronavirus and, just like the help available for furloughed employed staff, the money will be up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.
There are a few sticking points though.
While employed workers will receive their money monthly and as soon as April, the self-employed will be paid in a single lump sum that will not arrive until the start of June at the earliest.
This isn’t great news for those struggling with their finances right now.
It’s a little bittersweet to be told that yes, there is help available, but you won’t get your hands on anything for two and a half months.
However, there is good reason for the wait – mainly because the Treasury is going to find this administratively very difficult.
My advice is to apply if you are eligible knowing that help is on the horizon. To be eligible, at least half your income needs to have come from self-employment as registered on the 2018-19 tax return filed before 31st January - anyone who missed the filing deadline has four weeks from now to get it done and still qualify.
The scheme is open to those who earn under £50,000 a year and, unlike the employee scheme, the self-employed can continue to work as they receive support. HMRC will write to those they believe will be eligible in mid-May. If you do not receive a letter there will be ways to notify HMRC. The claim is likely to be carried out through the government gateway accounts so those who believe they will be eligible should set up a gateway account if they have not already done so.
If you have any questions about the Self Employment Income Support Scheme, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
HMRC guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme