The coronavirus outbreak is the biggest public health emergency in a generation. Our message to the public is clear: you must stay at home, in order to protect the NHS and save lives.
The Government said we would do whatever it takes to protect people’s jobs and incomes – and we meant it. We know many self-employed people are deeply anxious about the support available for them.
That is why the Chancellor has announced a new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme – helping many of our country’s self-employed workers. Musicians, sound engineers, plumbers, electricians, taxi drivers, hairdressers, childminders, driving instructors, and many others will all benefit thanks to our announcement.
Through this scheme, the Government will pay eligible self-employed people a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month – that’s unlike almost any other country and makes our scheme one of the most generous in the world.
We know there are challenging times ahead, but we are confident that the measures we have put in place will support millions of people, businesses and self-employed workers to get through this. We will emerge on the other side of this, both stronger and more united as a country. And we will get through this together.
The scheme the Chancellor has announced is fair. It is targeted at those who need it the most. And crucially, it is deliverable:
The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme
We are launching the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, to make sure people who work for themselves are getting the financial support they need. The Government will pay self-employed people across the whole UK who have been adversely affected by coronavirus a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month, for three months – but we will extend it for longer if necessary.
This scheme will make it simple for self-employed people to get the financial support they need. Self-employed people who are eligible will be contacted by HMRC directly, asked to fill out a simple online form, and HMRC will pay the grant directly into their bank account. We expect people to access the scheme by the beginning of June.
We are ensuring our support reaches those self-employed people who are most in need of it. The scheme will only be open to those with trading profits up to £50,000, leaving 95 per cent of people who are majority self-employed eligible for the scheme. HMRC will also ask people to demonstrate that the majority of their income comes from self-employment, and, to minimise fraud, only those who are already in self-employment, and who have a tax return for 2019, will be able to apply.
Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, spoke on Thursday about why this support package is so important:
Self-employed people are a crucial part of the UK’s workforce who’ve understandably been looking for reassurance and support during this national emergency.
The package for the self-employed I’ve outlined today is one of the most generous in the world that has been announced so far. It targets support to those who need help most, offering the self-employed the same level of support as those in work.
Together with support packages for businesses and for workers, I am confident we now have the measures in place to ensure we can get through this emergency together.
Who can apply for the self-employment income support scheme?
The scheme will be open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19 or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19. To qualify, more than half of their income in these periods must come from self-employment.
HMRC will identify taxpayers who are eligible and contact them directly with guidance on how to apply. They will use existing information to check who is potentially eligible, and will invite applications once the scheme is fully running.
Other support available for the self-employed
We have already announced our support packages for small business owners across the country. And we have announced a raft of measures to provide additional support to people affected by Coronavirus through these difficult times.
This Government is continuing to go further and provide people with the support they need. And the Self-Employed Income Support scheme is just one example of that.
Millions of self-employed individuals will receive direct cash grants thanks to the self-employed income support scheme. But that's not the only support this Government has provided.
For self-employed people who are struggling now, we’ve also made sure that many will be able to access loans through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme. This scheme provides loans of up to £5 million, which will be interest free for twelve months.
And we're supporting people through the welfare system so that nobody is penalised for doing the right thing. We will make it quicker and easier to access benefits. Those on contributory ESA will be able to claim from day 1, instead of day 8. And we are relaxing the requirement for anyone to physically attend a job centre – everything can be done by phone or online.
We've also suspended the minimum income floor on Universal Credit for twelve months – meaning self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate that is equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees. And we are deferring income tax self-assessment payments for July until the end of January 2021.
That means more money in your pocket now to help people get through the tough times ahead for the next few months. And it means the Government giving you the support you need.