Applications can now be made for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
13 May 2020
HM Treasury has published a press release which confirms that the scheme to support the self-employed through the outbreak of coronavirus is now open for claims.
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will allow self-employed individuals and members of partnerships whose businesses have been negatively impacted by coronavirus to claim a grant of up to £7,500 to cover a three-month period. This is the maximum amount that can be claimed, but the grant is based on 80% of their average monthly trading profits.
It is expected that millions will benefit from the scheme, and any successful claims will result in payments being made to bank accounts within six working days of submission.
People will be able to make their claims on a specified date between 13 – 18 May 2020 based on their Unique Tax Reference number. HMRC has been assigning self-employed individuals a specific date to apply on, which can be verified on the online checker. Individuals are welcome to apply on or after their designated date, but not before.
HMRC has produced a YouTube video which gives step-by-step guidance on how to claim.
When eligible individuals go online, they will be asked to supply their Unique Tax Reference (UTR), National Insurance (NI) number and Government Gateway password and user ID. They will also be required to provide their bank account details and the address that the bank account is registered to in order for HMRC to make payment. Claimants must have a UK bank account that HMRC can transfer money directly into, as payments may be delayed if they do not have this.
HMRC will confirm how they have calculated the grant that individuals are entitled to, so that this can be discussed with tax agents or advisors should any queries arise. Tax agents are not permitted to make a claim on behalf of their clients, as doing so could trigger HMRC’s anti-fraud procedures. This would inevitably slow down the claim process and make it more difficult for HMRC to pay the grant out.
Individuals who have not been contacted by HMRC after 17 May and believe that they are eligible, are advised to use the eligibility checker after that point, and if applicable, make a claim.
Updated guidance relating to SEISS shows that there is no longer a requirement for those who are eligible to confirm that they are below the €800,000 aid cap. The State Aid Temporary Framework has been amended so that it now allows for “Aid in the wage of subsidies” (section 3.10). This differs from the previous “Aid in form of direct grants, repayable advances or tax advantages” (section 3.1) on which the €800,000 cap applies. SEISS was recently approved under section 3.10 so the cap does not apply.
The SEISS is just one of a number of measures announced to support the self-employed through the outbreak of coronavirus, which includes Bounce Back loans, the deferral of income tax and increased levels of Universal Credit.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said:
“We’re working ahead of time to deliver support to the self-employed and from today, applications open for the millions of people eligible for the scheme.
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.”
Individuals are eligible for the SEISS if their business has been negatively impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19, if they traded in tax year 2019-20 and intend on continuing to trade. They must earn at least 50% of their income through self-employment, have trading profits which do not exceed £50,000 per year and have traded in tax year 2018-19, having submitted their associated Self-Assessment tax return on or before 23 April 2020. HMRC will calculate the amount to be paid on an average of tax returns for 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.
For further support, individuals are being advised to use HMRC’s webchat service or to call the COVID-19 helpline on 0800 024 1222.
The CIPP is delighted that the SEISS has been established and impressed by how quickly payments will be made. We would love to hear any of your feedback and learn about your experience of using the SEISS, so please don’t hesitate to contact the Policy and Research team at Policy@cipp.org.uk with any of your thoughts and opinions.
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication. For all the latest information, news and resources on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting payroll professions, visit our Coronavirus hub.