Self-employed Income Support Scheme

Treasury written question – answered on 9th July 2021.

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Photo of Margaret Ferrier Margaret Ferrier Independent, Rutherglen and Hamilton West

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of expanding the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme to include self-employed company directors and homeworkers, in particular those working in the travel industry who are not eligible for current salary support schemes.

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

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has supported 2.9 million people, paying over £25bn across all four SEISS grants. Together, the five SEISS grants combined will have provided individual claimants with support up to £36,570, making it one of the most generous self-employment income COVID support schemes in the world.

Company directors are not self-employed and so cannot qualify for the SEISS. They have access to the CJRS if they are paid a salary through PAYE and if they meet the eligibility criteria. Those paid annually have been and are still eligible to claim, as long as they meet the relevant conditions including being notified to HMRC on an RTI submission within the relevant cut-off dates.

In designing the SEISS, the Government’s priority was to get support to the greatest number of people but in a way that guards against fraud and abuse. That meant designing a system where HMRC can automatically match the data people provide in their applications with information already in the system to verify and pay out the claim.

The Government has explored a range of options and proposals to support company directors who pay themselves through dividends. However, HMRC do not have data – as it is not needed to administer the tax system – to identify them or verify how much grant they should be awarded. This would rely solely on self-certification and would thus open any scheme up to unacceptable levels of fraud and error by organised criminals and others who would seek to exploit these schemes.

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