110,000 self-employed apply for £340m in coronavirus grants

working from home
By James Nadal | 13th May 2020 | 14 min read

The scheme designed to help financially struggling self-employed workers has launched, with a surge of 110,000 applications on day one.

According to the BBC, the value of the submissions is around £340m already.

The Treasury announced this morning that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme had opened “weeks ahead of schedule”.

Those eligible will receive a government grant worth up to £7,500. The Treasury said it expected the pay-outs to “land in bank accounts within six working days of each claim”.

The grant was created after criticism about a lack of support for self-employed people, particularly in comparison to the help offered via the furlough scheme to those in employment.

Self-employed individuals or members of partnerships whose business has been adversely affected by coronavirus are able to apply for a grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profits over the last three years of accounts.

People have been invited to claim their grant on a specified date, from 13 - 18 May based on their Unique Tax Reference number. They won’t be able to apply before their claim date but can make a claim after that day.

Self-employed workers can check what date they can make the claim for using HMRC’s online checker at any time. HMRC warned however that tax advisers and accountants must not be the ones to make the claim.

The website says: "You must make the claim yourself. Your tax agent or adviser must not claim on your behalf as this will trigger a fraud alert, and you will have to contact HMRC. This will cause a significant delay to you receiving your payment."

Accountants may be called upon to help if the response comes back from HMRC that the individual is not eligible or if the grant amount appears to be wrong. If there are problems with the claim, the applicant or adviser should contact HMRC via this page.

Individuals are eligible if their business has been adversely affected by coronavirus, they traded in the tax year 2019 to 2020, intend to continue trading, and they:

  • earn at least half of their income through self-employment
  • have trading profits of no more than £50,000 per year
  • traded in the tax year 2018 to 2019 and submitted their Self Assessment tax return on or before 23 April 2020 for that year

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said: “With payments arriving before the end of this month, self-employed across the UK will have money in their pockets to help them through these challenging times.”

Derek Cribb, CEO of IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed) said: “For the self-employed, Coronavirus is not only a health crisis, but also a pressing income crisis.”

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The self-employment income support scheme represents a lifeline for the millions of self-employed people who are expected to qualify.”

Further assistance can be gained from HMRC’s webchat service or the Covid-19 Helpline on 0800 024 1222.

For more information and support for helping your business through the crisis, please visit the IRIS resources hub.