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Budget 2021: More help for the self-employed

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Written by: Emma Lunn
03/03/2021
Fourth and fifth Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grants will be available to cover lost self-employed earnings.

The fourth self-employment grant will stay at the current level covering February to April, offering up to 80% of trading profits or £7,500 over three months.

For the fifth grant, available from July, people whose turnover has fallen by 30% or more will continue to get 80% of average profits; those whose turnover has fallen less than 30% will receive a 30% grant.

The Treasury said last year that a fourth grant would cover the months of February to April. But self-employed workers have been frustrated about the lack of detail about the scheme, despite the grant period having already begun.

Eligibility of the SEISS grants has also been widened to include about 600,000 people who became self-employed in the 2019-20 tax year, as tax return data for 2019-20 is now available. These workers were excluded from previous grants as you needed to have filed a tax return for 2018-19 to apply.

However, many workers who have not received any government support so far will still be excluded from financial help.

These include directors of limited companies paid by dividends, anyone newly self-employed, freelancers paid via PAYE and workers earning more than £50,000 a year.

Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The extension of the self-employment grant to those who have just submitted their first tax return will come as a huge relief. The last year has been an incredible struggle in impossible circumstances without government support beyond Universal Credit. They will finally get more of the help they so desperately need.

“However, this doesn’t help all of those excluded from government schemes. There’s no respite for self-employed people with profits of over £50,000 or who receive less than 50% of their income from self-employment, who will continue to battle on. It must seem even more unjust that the scheme is scooping up hundreds of thousands more people, and still leaving them behind.”

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