COVID-19 and the self-employed: What has Rishi Sunak announced?

27th March 2020

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a major package of “new support for the self-employed” to help those in financial need as a result of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak.

A new “Self-employment Income Support Scheme” was revealed during yesterday’s (26th March 2020) press conference, following Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Government facing mounting pressure to provide more help for this group of workers.

The Government will cover wages up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for those eligible, which the Chancellor said is “almost like no other country and makes the scheme one of the most generous in the world”.

This will take the form of a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly wages from the last three years, based on their tax returns to HMRC.

The scheme is open to eligible people across the UK for three months, subject to extension if necessary, to those with trading profits of up to £50,000.

Only those already in self-employment with a tax return for 2018-19 can apply. The Chancellor admitted that they will be unable to save every business, but that this scheme will cover 95% of people who make the majority of their wages through being self-employed.

Those eligible will be able to access the scheme by the beginning of June, and Universal Credit is available in the interim to provide financial support for those who need it.

A potential repercussion of this, however, was the Chancellor implying that at some point the tax system will be reformed, so that the self-employed lose some of their tax advantages.

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