Self-employment Income Support Scheme

Treasury written question – answered on 4th May 2020.

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Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance, North Down

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the circumstances in which 2019-20 financial year self-assessment tax returns could be used for the purposes of the self-employed income support scheme.

Photo of Fleur Anderson Fleur Anderson Labour, Putney

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will extend the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme to self-employed people who became self-employed after the deadline for submitting a 2018-19 tax return.

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

It has not been possible to include those who began trading after the 2018-19 tax year in the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. This was a very difficult decision and it was taken for practical reasons. It is correct that individuals can now submit Income Tax Self Assessment returns for 2019-20, but there would be significant risks for the public purse if the Government relied on these returns for the scheme. HMRC would not be able to distinguish genuine self-employed individuals who started trading in 2019-20 from fake applications by fraudulent operators and organised criminal gangs seeking to exploit the SEISS. The Government cannot expose the tax system to these risks.

However, those who entered self-employment after April 2019 will still be eligible for other support. For example, the self-employed can benefit from the Government’s relaxation of the earnings rules (known as the Minimum Income Floor) in Universal Credit. The SEISS supplements the significant support already announced for UK businesses, including the Bounce Back Loans Scheme for small businesses, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the deferral of tax payments. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19

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