Self-employed people were among the last to be offered government support to combat the impact of coronavirus. Eventually, the state offered support similar to what was extended to PAYE employees but it would only be available for people invited to apply.
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From today, May 4, HMRC will begin contacting eligible claimants to invite them to claim a grant should they need it.
Eligible claimants will be able to receive a taxable grant worth 80 percent of their average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500 paid in a single instalment.
On top of this, HMRC will also be inviting customers, or their agents, to go online and check on their eligibility for SEISS.
The government highlighted that to receive a quick confirmation from the eligibility checker, individuals need to have two things in order.
People using the tool should:
- Have their Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) and their National Insurance Number to hand
- Make sure their details are up-to-date in their Government Gateway account
Once the online check is complete, eligible people will be given a date for when they can submit their claim and they will also be encouraged to update their contact details.
While HMRC will begin contacting people from today, the actual claims service is still a few days away from opening.
The claims service will open on May 13 and the government revealed that it is being delivered ahead of the original timetable.
They highlight that the claims process will be very simple and eligible claimants should see the money paid into their account by May 25.
In terms of eligibility there is broad scope but the government has minimum rules in place which must apply.
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The government explain that 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 April 23 2020 for that year
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There have been some organisations and representatives in the UK who feel that the eligibility rules for SEISS are too stringent and restrictive.
Matt Dowling, the CEO and founder of Freelancer Club, comments on today’s news and calls for the state to extend and expedite the rules: “Today marks the final nail in the coffin for many freelancers. With the self-employed and freelancers now able to check their eligibility for SEISS, we predict up to two million will have their worst fears spelled out on their screens.
“Some of the most vulnerable and hardworking people in our society will be met with the words: ‘You are not eligible’.
“Many of these people were hit hardest and earliest during this crisis, with huge numbers having been unable to work for several weeks now.
“For millions of freelancers, this support was their only lifeline. They are scrambling to care for families, pay off student loans and scrape together rent, but today will have confirmed that no help will be arriving.
“They have been utterly abandoned simply because they’ve earned too little, too much, or not been self-employed for long enough – falling through the myriad cracks in this new system.
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“For those who aren’t eligible for Universal Credit, Small Business Grants or Housing Benefit – there is nothing left.
“I hear stories from self-employed people who lost 12 months’ worth of work in 48 hours. “Freelancers who have waited in vain, will see their last hope shredded today. For others, it marks little change in an ordeal which will stretch out for weeks longer before financial aid finally materialises.
“The government must extend and expedite support for self-employed people now before the current trauma deepens even further.”
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