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Coronavirus - help for self-employed people

Updated 5 January 2021.

 

Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

The Self Employed Income Support Scheme has been extended until April 2021. 

A new SEISS Support Scheme will now cover 80% of usual earnings (up to a max of £7,500) for the months November 2020 to January 2021. This payment is expected to be made starting in December and applications can be made online.

We are waiting for details of the January to April payment, which is expected to be paid in April.

If you weren’t eligible for the first payouts from the scheme, you won’t be eligible this time. 

You will have to provide evidence that your self-employed business has been affected by coronavirus. You can find detailed guidance on the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) on the Gov.UK website.

Beware of scammers

Some scammers pretend to call from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Be cautious about what information you give over the phone. Never give passwords, banking pin codes or log in details..

Claiming benefits

Claiming benefits will not stop you from being able to get help from the Self Employed Income Support Scheme or affect the amount you get from it.

Grants for businesses

Local councils have been given money to support businesses that have to close down during the lockdown. Contact your local council for information on what support your business might be entitled to. 

There are additional schemes in place in the devolved nations:

Self-employment: Frequently Asked Questions

I'm shielding - is there any extra help for me?

There is disappointingly little support in place for self-employed people who cannot work because they need to shield. 

If you are eligible for the SEISS grant, you will be able to receive it.

If you have been paying national insurance contributions in 2018/19 and 2019/20, you should be able to get New Style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) of £74.35 per week.

You may be able to get support through Universal Credit, but this will depend on your household income and capital and you will need to check whether you're entitled to it using our Benefits Calculator.

I can't work because I don't have childcare - is there any extra help?

There isn't a lot of support in place for self-employed people who cannot work because they don't have any childcare while schools are closed.

If you are eligible for the SEISS grant, you will be able to receive it.

You may be able to get support through Universal Credit, but this will depend on your household income and capital and you will need to check whether you're entitled to it using our Benefits Calculator.

What other support can I get?

Self-employed people cannot get Statutory Sick Pay.

You might be able to get help through the benefits system. Use our Benefits Calculator to check what you can claim. Benefits are based on the income you and any partner you live with have coming in at the moment, so make sure you enter your current income and not what you usually earn.

You might be able to access a Bounce Back Loan. These are 100% government backed and are quick and simple to apply for. You can only use these loans for your business and not for yourself.

Tax that is due in January 2021 can be paid in installments through to January 2022.

You might be able to get a grant from a charity to help you out. Use our Grants Search to find charities that might be able to help people like you.

If you live in England, Scotland or Wales and lose earnings because you have to self isolate, you may be able to get a one-off £500 Coronavirus Self Isolation Payment. There is a different scheme in Northern Ireland.

How do these different types of help interact? Can I apply for all of them?

You can apply for help through all of these schemes.

Money you receive as a personal loan will be counted as capital when working out how much you can get in benefits. Use our Benefits Calculator (link above) to check how this would affect you. Money you receive as a loan to your business will be ignored when working out how much you can get in benefits.

Money you have set aside to pay tax or Value Added Tax (VAT) will not be counted as capital when working out how much you can get in benefits. 

Money you receive through the Jobs Retention Scheme will be counted as income when you receive it and might affect your benefits claim.

Money from the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will affect your benefits when you receive it. If you're receiving Universal Credit, when you declare the SEISS grant as income to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) you can deduct business expenses you have had to pay in that assessment period. Use our Benefits Calculator (link above) to check how the SEISS grant will affect benefit payments.

I am worried about Council Tax. What can I do?

If you are struggling with Council Tax, use our Benefits Calculator (link above) to see if you are entitled to Council Tax Support/Reduction. If you are, contact your council to make a claim for it.

Your council may also offer a discretionary scheme to help with Council Tax. This might be able to help even if you are not entitled to Council Tax Support/Reduction or if your Council Tax Support/Reduction doesn’t cover all the Council Tax you have to pay. Some councils are offering payment holidays on Council Tax. Check your council's website to see what their rules are.

I am worried about bills. What other help can I get?

Mortgage

If you are struggling with your mortgage, it is important to communicate with your mortgage lender.

You can have a maximum of six months mortgage holiday in total, as long as it ends before 31 July 2021.

If you have already had six months of mortgage holiday, you should be given tailored support from your lender. Unless you agree to it, your home cannot be repossessed until 31 January 2021 at the earliest.

You can find out more about support with mortgage payments on the Financial Conduct Authority website.

If you are struggling with debt, you should get free, confidential, non-judgemental debt advice.

Rent

If you are struggling with your rent, first check what help you can get through the benefits system by using our Benefits Calculator (link above).

If you live in Wales, you may be able to get a loan to help pay your rent.

If you live in Scotland, you may be able to get a loan to help pay your rent or rent arrears.

You could also speak to your landlord and ask if they would be willing to let you pay rent late. If you are behind on your rent, it is very important you get advice as soon as possible. 

Household bills

If you are struggling with household bills, speak to your utility providers and let them know why you’re struggling.

Lots of utility providers have schemes in place to help people who are struggling with money because of coronavirus.

Debts

If you have debts, get in touch with your creditors and ask them if you could suspend payment. Lots of lenders have special policies in place to help people who are affected by coronavirus. The payment holiday scheme is likely to be extended, but the details of this have not yet been worked out.

If you are struggling with keeping on top of debt payments, you should get free, independent, non-judgemental debt advice.

Everyone knows this is a stressful, difficult time for a lot of people. There is a lot of support out there but if you don’t ask for it you won’t get it.

Updated: 5 January 2021

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