Coronavirus: Government unveils grant scheme to support the self-employed
Posted: Thu 26th Mar 2020
The chancellor has unveiled a new scheme to provide grants to help freelancers and the self-employed deal with the impact of coronavirus.
The government has faced intense pressure to deliver support for the self-employed that matches what it has announced for employees with the job retention scheme to cover wages.
Speaking in the daily coronavirus briefing, Rishi Sunak said a self-employed income support scheme will be set up to pay 80% of self-employed individuals' income up to £2,500 for three months. It will extended if necessary.
The taxable grant will be calculated using average monthly profits over the last three financial years up to £50,000 a year.
To qualify, people must earn the majority of their income from self-employment and must have filed a tax return for 2019. If they haven't, individuals have up to four weeks from today to file their return.
Sunak said the scheme covers 95% of people who earn most of their income from self-employed activities. It will launch by the start of June and grants will be backdated to March.
For those who are more recently self-employed and can't file a 2019 tax return, the chancellor said the scheme can't be used because the government has no information on them. He urged recently self-employed people to look at other support available including Universal Credit benefits.
Enterprise Nation's reaction
Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, said: "This is a very generous package of support for the self-employed and I know our members will see it as an acknowledgment that the work they do is valued.
"There will be some casualties. Those that are new to self-employment for example and those that have mortgages and bills to pay before June.
"It also comes with a warning shot that this will give the government a very good reason to change employment law and implement something similar to IR35 and other tax measures with renewed vigour as the self-employed, on this occasion, have asked to be treated in the same way as employees. If this applies to tax, there will be more changes ahead for the self-employed."
Stay up-to-date with the latest coronavirus support information
We are keeping you updated on the latest information on how to access the government's coronavirus business support here. You can also find advice and the chance to ask a question on Enterprise Nation's coronavirus business advice hub. Follow Enterprise Nation on Twitter too for updates.