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.
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."
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.