Covid-19: Self-employed worker grants increased

The government has increased the amount of grant money available to self-employed workers over the winter period, as part of its revised package of coronavirus support measures.

The third grant being offered through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), which covers November to January, will be calculated at 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.

This is an increase on the previously announced rate of 80% of average profits for November, then 40% for December and January – which would have equated to about 55% of trading profits across the three months.

See also: Covid-19: Latest help for staff and self-employed

The online service to claim the grant will also be available from 30 November 2020, rather than the middle of December, meaning claimants will get their money quicker than previously anticipated.

The scheme is aimed at people who are getting less work or no work because of coronavirus.

To be eligible, self-employed individuals, including members of partnerships, must:

  • Have been previously eligible for the SEISS first and second grant (but do not have to have claimed these previous grants)
  • Declare that they intend to continue to trade and are either currently actively trading but are affected by reduced demand due to coronavirus, or were previously trading but are temporarily unable to do so due to coronavirus.

The grants are taxable income and also subject to national insurance contributions.

The government has already announced that there will be a fourth grant covering the period February 2021 to April 2021, but is yet to announce details of payment levels.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme 

The second lockdown has forced the government to extend its furlough scheme until the end of March, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for any hours not worked.

The Job Support Scheme (JSS), which had been due to open on 1 November as a replacement for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), has been postponed.

At present, under the CRJS, there is currently no employer contribution required to wages for hours not worked.

However, employers are asked to cover national insurance and employer pension contributions for hours not worked.

Further guidance for the CJRS extension will be published on 10 November.

The guidance for claim periods from February onwards will be published following a government review.

Job Retention Bonus postponed

The extension of CJRS until March means that plans to pay employers a £1,000 one-off Jobs Retention Bonus (JRB) in February 2021 have also been postponed.

The purpose of the JRB had been to encourage employers to keep people in work until the end of January.

Government has said it will reintroduce a job retention incentive for employers at the appropriate time.