SEISS deadline falls next week as self-employed numbers drop by 238,000 – get ready now

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SEISS grants have helped millions of self-employed individuals cope during this tough economic period. As was the case with the furlough scheme, SEISS was extended but a deadline for claims is fast approaching.

From August 17, a second and final taxable grant worth 70 percent of average monthly trading profits can be claimed.

This grant will be capped at £6,570 in total and will be paid out in a single instalment.

Claims will be able to be made online but the government warn that the online service isn’t available yet.

As such, if would-be claimants receive texts, calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC, offering financial help on the scheme or a tax refund and are asked to click on a link or to give personal information, it is a scam.

While this scheme was welcomed by many, there is worrying evidence that it has not been as effective as the government had hoped it would be.

A recent survey from the ONS revealed that the number of self-employed workers fell by a record 238,000 in the second quarter of 2020.

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) responded to the findings, noting that the drop in self-employment is “almost certainly” because of gaps in self-employed support during the coronavirus crisis compared to the more comprehensive employee support.

The organisation’s own “Confidence Index” also revealed that self-employed quarterly incomes have dropped by 25 percent after a record fall in the amount of work they are able to secure.

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Derek Cribb, the CEO of IPSE, commented on the worrying results: “In the second quarter of 2020, there was a disproportionate and disturbing slump in the number of self-employed in the UK – far more than among employees.

“This is almost certainly because of the serious gaps in the government support for the self-employed, including directors of limited companies and also the newly self-employed, who are at the most fragile stage of their careers.

“Going into a recession, we would normally expect a jump not a slump in the number of self-employed, as businesses look to the flexible expertise they offer.

“However, with government policy driving down the number of self-employed, there is a real fear the UK workforce will become brittle and rigid just when it needs to be at its most agile.”

Because of how dire the situation has become the second grant may not come soon enough for some claimants.

Fortunately, there is plenty of guidance available for those who are struggling at the moment and Dan Stopp, a UK Accounting Manager at Bokio, laid out everything claimants need to know, which includes what alternative options may be available: “The second grant will be open for applications from 17th August 2020 and will close on 19th October 2020, and HMRC have stated that this is the final grant to be offered under the Self Employed Income Support Scheme.

“The eligibility for the second grant is more or less the same as for the first one, namely: your business has been adversely affected by COVID-19, you have a tax return for the 2018/19, you make more than 50 percent of your total income from self-employment, your trading profits are no more than £50,000 per year, and you are currently trading and intend to carry on doing so in the 2020/21 tax year.

“Although you don’t need to have claimed the first grant in order to be eligible for the second, you will however be required to prove that your business has been adversely affected by coronavirus on or after 14th July 2020.

“Unlike the first instalment of the grant which was worth 80 percent of your average trading profits (capped at £7,500 to cover lost income over the past three months), the second instalment will be worth slightly less, 70 percent of your average trading profits, and paid out in a single sum of up to a maximum of £6,570.

“HMRC has said it will pay the grant into your bank account within six working days. Payment will be by way of a single instalment directly into your bank account. Once your claim has been approved you can check the status of your payment online. It’s also important to remember that the grant is taxable so you will need to report it (i.e. on your Self-Assessment tax return).

“If you are not eligible for a government grant, you may still be able to apply for Universal Credit or the Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan Scheme. Check the HMRC website and see what support is available for you.”

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