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Self-employed: Coronavirus

Question for Treasury

UIN HL10023, tabled on 4 November 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the finding in the report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies Income protection for the self-employed and employees during the coronavirus crisis, published on 2 April, that 18 per cent of self-employed individuals are ineligible for COVID-19 financial support; and what steps they are taking to expand access to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Answered on

18 November 2020

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has been a generous support to many but we have tried to target it at those who need it most. The SEISS has a maximum £50,000 threshold for average trading profits and a requirement to earn more than 50% of your income from self-employment.

The self-employed are very diverse and have a wide mix of turnover and profits, with monthly and annual variations even in normal times, and in some cases with substantial alternative forms of income too: for example, those who had more than £50,000 from trading profits in 2018-19 had an average total income of more than £200,000. Around 95 per cent of those with more than half their income from self-employment in 2018-19 could be eligible for this scheme.

As previously announced, new, clearer eligibility criteria have been introduced for the third SEISS grant to ensure it will only be available to self-employed traders who intend to continue to trade and, due to COVID-19, are either facing reduced demand or are temporarily unable to carry out their business. Full guidance on the eligibility criteria will be published in due course, before the scheme opens.

The Government has acknowledged that it hasn’t been able to support everyone in the exact way they would want. Those ineligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) Grant Extension may still be eligible for other elements of the unprecedented financial support available. This includes Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, mortgage holidays, self-isolation support payments and other business support grants.

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