Self-employed: Coronavirus

Treasury written question – answered on 1st December 2020.

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Photo of Darren Henry Darren Henry Conservative, Broxtowe

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to support (a) newly and (b) other self-employed people who have been affected by the covid-19 outbreak and who are ineligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

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

The design of the SEISS, including the eligibility requirements that an individual’s trading profits must be no more than £50,000 and at least equal to their non-trading income, means it is targeted at those who most need it, and who are most reliant on their self-employment income.

The Government acknowledges that it has not been possible to support everyone as they might want. The practical issues that prevented the Government from being able to include the newly self-employed in 2019-20 in the original Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), namely that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will not have access to their self-assessment returns in order to verify their eligibility, still remain. The latest year for which HMRC have tax returns for all self-employed individuals is 2018/19. 2019/20 returns are not due until the end of January 2021.

Those ineligible for the SEISS may still be eligible for other elements of the support available. The Universal Credit standard allowance has been temporarily increased for 2020-21 and the Minimum Income Floor relaxed for the duration of the crisis, so that where self-employed claimants' earnings have fallen significantly, their Universal Credit award will have increased to reflect their lower earnings. In addition to this, they may also have access to other elements of the package, including Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, mortgage holidays, self-isolation support payments and other business support grants.

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