03 April 2020

Coronavirus support if you’re self employed

You may be worried about loss of earnings because of coronavirus. Find out about the support that is available.

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What support is available

If you're self-employed, from 13 May, you'll be able to access grants in line with support for employees. These grants last for three months and cover up to 80 per cent of your average profits, up to a limit of £2,500 a month. You can access this support if your trading profits are lower than £50,000 a year.

The calculation for average profits will be based on the last three years of figures, according to your tax returns. However, if you don't have three years’ tax returns, the Government will use information from any filed tax returns, whether for one or two years, when working out the grant.

The Government estimates that 95% of self-employed workers – or 3.8 million people, will be able to apply for the grants. If you're eligible, HMRC will contact you.

Am I covered by this support?

Some self-employed people are not eligible. If you became self-employed since April last year, you won’t receive a grant. This is because the Government does not have evidence of your earnings through the self-assessment system, as you won’t yet have filed a self-assessment tax return.

If you started trading before April 2019, but haven’t yet filed a tax return for 2018/ 19, you have been given until April 23rd 2020 to file, so that the Government can consider you for this scheme. If you generate profits above £50,000 a year, you are not eligible for the grant.

Limited companies

If you own a limited company and you're the only person it employs, you're not covered by this scheme. However, you may be able to furlough yourself and get the same support as an employee. You’re not able to work for your company while you are furloughed. There's more information on the Gov.uk website.

If you can’t furlough yourself, you may be able to access other types of support for businesses, such as business interruption loans. The official guidance on this is also on the Gov.uk site.

I’m not eligible: what are my options?

If you find you're not eligible for either of these support schemes, the Government has improved access to benefits, such as Universal Credit. The rate of support available is £95.85 a week in tax year 2020-21. The Government has also deferred the requirement to make your second self-assessment tax payment on account from July this year until the end of January 2021, if your earnings have been adversely affected.

You can apply for Universal Credit using the online service on the Gov.uk website. The charity Turn2Us has a benefits calculator, which you can use to find out what benefits you may be entitled to.

What other help can I get?

There are other forms of support you could benefit from, including mortgage payment holidays for three months and for renters who are self-employed, a temporary ban on evictions for three months. Landlords are also being encouraged to offer rent payment holidays, reduced rent payment options and general leniency.

If you're self-employed and are concerned about how you will manage; check what support your lender or current account provider is offering. Our guide on what to do if you're struggling to pay bills has more information.

Help with debts

If you're worried about or struggling with debts, debt advice charities are also on hand to give free, tailored guidance on what your next steps should be. These include:

If you live in Northern Ireland, you should contact Advice NI.

If you have savings that can be accessed easily, consider drawing upon these now in order to avoid using debt. Keep an eye on the interest you are being charged on any debt and look around for lower interest rates if you can. Cut back on spending as far as possible. If you experience delays in applying for benefits or other help or advice, keep trying.

You can read the Government’s official guidance for the self-employed on the Gov.uk website.

More help and support for managing your finances in difficult times.