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Self-employed: Coronavirus

Question for Treasury

UIN 31613, tabled on 18 March 2020

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to support self-employed people during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered on

23 March 2020

The Government is deferring tax payments, through the Income Tax Self-Assessment (ITSA) and VAT system to help support businesses and the self-employed with cash flows. VAT payments due between now and mid-June will be deferred. No business will have to make a VAT payment to HMRC in that period. Income tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021, benefitting up to 5.7m self-employed businesses.

The Government has also announced it is delaying the reforms to the off-payroll working rules (IR35) from April 2020 to April 2021 and the reforms will be legislated for in the 2020 Finance Bill. This deferral has been announced in response to the spread of Covid-19, to help businesses and individuals deal with the economic impacts of the pandemic.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is available to self-employed individuals with an eligible business entity. By providing an 80% government guarantee on finance facilities up to £5 million, this scheme will help more businesses access the finance they need. The Government will not charge businesses for this guarantee, and will also cover the first 12 months of interest payments for businesses. For more information on the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme go to: www.British-business-bank.co.uk/CBILS.

The Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed for all self-employed UC claimants for 1 year from 6 April. This means a drop in earnings due to the economic impacts of Covid-19 will not affect the amount of UC a claimant receives. This goes further than the Budget announcement to temporarily relax the MIF only for claimants who are directly affected by Covid-19, which has already come into effect. For those directly affected or self-isolating, there will be no attendance requirements, and Universal Credit can be claimed online or via phone.

Self-employed people unable to work because they are directly affected by Covid-19 or self-isolating will be eligible for Contributory Employment and Support Allowance. This is now payable from the first day of sickness, rather than the eighth. Eligible claimants under 25 will be entitled to £57.90 per week, and over 25s £73.10 per week.

Answered by

Treasury