Coronavirus: Financial help for the self-employed


On Thursday 26 March 2020, the Chancellor announced further measures to support self-employed people who are struggling due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Self-employed Income Support Scheme

Self-employed people will be able to apply for a taxable grant that will cover 80% of their self-employment income – up to £2500 per month. This will be calculated based on average monthly profits over the last 3 years. If you do not have 3 years of accounts it will be averaged out over the longest period available.

It will take a few weeks for the scheme to be up and running but grants can be backdated to the beginning of March 2020. The scheme will be open for 3 months and grants won’t be paid until the beginning of June.

To ensure that the support is targeted there will be some criteria about who can apply for it:

  • You must have trading profits below £50,000
  • A majority of your income must be from self-employment
  • You must have a tax return for Financial Year 2018/2019. For anyone who missed the January filing deadline for tax returns you can access the scheme if you file your return within the next 4 weeks.

Individuals should not contact HMRC now. HMRC will use existing information to check potential eligibility and invite applications once the scheme is operational.

Previously announced measures for self-employed people

The Chancellor announced last week that the Minimum Income Floor on Universal Credit will be suspended for all self-employed people.

This means that if you are self-employed, your Universal Credit entitlement will reflect the level of support you really need. This suspension will come into effect from 6 April 2020.

If you need immediate support to tide you over before you can get a grant under the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme you may be able to apply for Universal Credit. You can get an advance payment within days of your claim being processed prior to your first payment after 5 weeks. Advances must be repaid.

The government has announced a broad package of support for businesses, some of which may be applicable to self-employed people. You can find details of the schemes on the government’s information page for businesses here.  

People whose employers are still having them come in to work

The Deputy Chief Medical Officer reminded employers that they have health and safety obligations towards their employees. She said that the Health and Safety Executive has been contacting employers to warn them that they need to comply with these obligations, and letting them know what they need to be doing for their employees’ safety.