Self-Employed Income Support Scheme
When it comes to the Self-Employed, on 26th March 2020 Rishi Sunak announced details of a comparable Scheme for the self-employed, referred to as the “Self-Employed Income Support Scheme”. The Scheme seeks to put those self-employed workers who have lost out on income due to the coronavirus crisis on an equal footing with those who are directly employed. As with the Job Retention Scheme full details of the Income Support Scheme are awaited but the headline commitments are as follows:
- The government will make available a taxable grant to the value of 80% of a self-employed worker’s average monthly profits from the previous 3 years up to a maximum of £2,500 per month
- The Scheme will apply to workers across the UK and will cover at least three months.
- Workers can make a claim under the Scheme and continue to work (unlike employees who are placed on furlough leave under the Job Retention Scheme)
- The Scheme will only apply to those with a trading profit of up to £50,000, therefore excluding the highest earners
- Only those who earn the majority of their earnings from self-employed work will be eligible to apply for grants
- Workers who have been in business for less than a year will be excluded from the Scheme and are being directed to the enhanced welfare packages
- The Scheme is likely to be set up by the beginning of June with the first payments being made at this time
- Grants will be paid direct into the bank accounts of eligible individuals
- To benefit as many people as possible, the government is extending the deadline for tax returns allowing those who have missed the January deadline the benefit of an extra four months to do so
We are currently considering the implications of the announcement and what this might mean for both the self-employed and the employed however what is clear (we think) is that there will definitely be implications for at least the self-employed if they access funds under the Scheme.
In his announcement on 26th March 2020, Mr Sunak stated that those self-employed who accessed funds would, in future, “be chipping in to right the ship”. This was clearly a very tactile way of saying that the self-employed would be required, probably through increased taxes in future, to help repay the cost of the support being offered here. Given that the government has sought to bring parity when it comes to the support on offer between the self-employed and the employed, it therefore seems likely that those employees and employers who benefit from the Job Retention Scheme/furlough leave will also have to be prepared for potentially significant tax consequences in the future. Hopefully we are wrong on this point, but watch this space for more detail.