UPDATED: The government has amended the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) to reflect the recent changes to the furlough scheme, it was announced on Monday.
The UK-wide Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be made more generous – with self-employed people receiving 80 per cent of their average trading profits for November.
And to ensure those who need support get it as soon as possible, payments will also be made more quickly with the claims window being brought forward from December 14 to November 30.
As SEISS grants are calculated over three months, the November boost to 80 per cent, along with the 40 per cent level of trading profits for December and January, increases the total level of the third grant to 55 per cent of trading profits. That means the maximum grant will increase to £5,160.
The news comes as England prepares to go back into lockdown from November 5 until December 2, chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “So far we’ve provided £13.7bn of support to self-employed people through the crisis – and I’ve always said we will continue to do everything we can to support livelihoods across the UK.
“The rapidly changing health picture has meant we have had to act in order to protect people’s lives and I know this is incredibly worrying time for the self-employed. That is why we have increased the generosity of the third grant, ensuring those who cannot trade or are facing decreased demand are able to get through the months ahead.”
Commenting on the SEISS reverting to 80 per cent for one month only, Federation of Small Businesses national chairman Mike Cherry pointed out many self-employed were still excluded from the initiative. A quarter of a million self-employed people have stopped working since the first lockdown and that figure can only rise, said Cherry.
As part of the latest package of measures, the government has promised to look again at reinstating the Minimum Income Floor for self-employed people on Universal Credit, tying the newly self-employed on income support to the equivalent of a full-time employee on minimum wage.
Cherry said: “We now need to see words turned into action. It is cruel to impose a false assumption of earnings just as people need support the most.”
And Seb Maley, CEO of self-employed tax specialist Qdos, described the latest government move to help the self-employed as “callous” because it ignored those self-employed who work via their own limited companies. To date, the government has ignored the plight of self-employed company directors. The Treasury is understood to think it too complicated to unravel the finances of company director incomes, which often mixes up both active and passive income, say from property investments.
Maley said: “The irony, of course, is that it will be these workers who the government needs most to kickstart the economy. It’s vital, therefore, that the Prime Minister tailors the support available to this key sector of the workforce before it’s too late.”
What about other coronavirus funding?
In addition to the SEISS changes, more businesses will be able to access additional support as deadlines for applications for government-backed loan schemes and the Future Fund have been further extended until January 31st 2021.
Firms can also ‘top up’ existing Bounce Back loans if they need to, according to the government.
Am I eligible for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme extension?
You may be eligible for the extension if you were eligible for the first and second grants (though you don’t necessarily need to have applied for them).
You must also declare that you intend to continue trading and that you:
- Are currently actively trading but are impacted by reduced demand due to coronavirus
- Were previously trading but are temporarily unable to do so due to coronavirus.