Employees kept on by struggling businesses during the coronavirus outbreak will have 80% of their wages subsidised by the government, but ministers were criticised for not going so far for the self-employed.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has announced the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) to help the self-employed navigate their way through the coronavirus pandemic.
Workers will be able to access the grant no later than June, and it is expected that 95 percent of people who are majority self-employed will be able to benefit from the scheme.
To qualify, more than half of their income in these periods must come from self-employment.
The chancellor said you can access the scheme via HMRC in June.
What help is the government giving self-employed people?
Those with the lowest incomes are in line to receive more generous benefits payments, announced previously.
The delay in announcing measures for the self-employed has inevitably added fuel to the fire concerning the ongoing debate around IR35 and the Off-Payroll legislation.
The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said the plan would be backdated to March and would cover those earning up to £50,000, or 95% of the self-employed.
Those who pay themselves a salary and dividends through their own company are not covered by the scheme but will be covered for their salary by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if they are operating PAYE schemes.
Why has it taken so long to help self-employed people?
'For many people that have seen their businesses disappear in the blink of an eye, things like statutory sick pay or universal credit just isn't enough, ' Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce told the BBC's Today Programme this morning.
Roughly a fifth are in the construction sector, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), with hundreds of thousands of others working in the motor trade, professional services, and education. And it looks like self-employed people could be lose their precious tax breaks.
The grant is equivalent to the help offered to salaried workers, after Boris Johnson had said there would be parity.
These include a strengthening of the welfare safety-net with a £7 billion boost to Universal Credit, income tax and VAT deferrals, £1 billion more support for renters and access to three-month mortgage holidays. This will be calculated using average monthly profits over last three financial years but will be capped at £2,500 per month. The scheme will be open for at least three months and self-employed people can continue to do business. The idea is to prevent mass unemployment.
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