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Self-employed new parents can claim support grant

Written by: Emma Lunn
The Government has bowed to pressure to treat self-employed workers returning from maternity leave fairly regarding coronavirus support.

Self-employed parents whose trading profits dipped in 2018/19 because they took time out to have children will be able to claim for a payment under the self-employed income support scheme (SEISS), the Government has announced.

The self-employed income support scheme (SEISS) requires claimants to have traded in 2018/19 with their self-employed profits making up at least half of their total income.

They must also have submitted a self-assessment tax return on or before 23 April 2020 for the 2018/19 tax year.

The first SEISS grant  pays self-employed workers 80% of their monthly income for three months, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

Grants are based on profits over three tax years. This is based on an average of the tax returns for 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19.

But new parents who took time out for maternity, paternity or adoption leave in the 2018/19 tax year complained that their dip in income was not accounted for in the initial tranche of grants.

The issue has been repeatedly raised by campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed who threatened to sue the Chancellor for sex discrimination, as mothers tend to take a longer period off work when a baby is born.

As a result the Government has changed how the SEISS grants are calculated.

Parents who took time out of trading to care for their children within the first 12 months of birth or within 12 months of an adoption placement, will now be able to use either their 2017-18 or both their 2016-17 and 2017-18 self-assessment returns as the basis for their eligibility for the SEISS.

They will also need to meet the other standard eligibility criteria for support under the SEISS.

Further details of the change for self-employed parents will be set out by the start of July in published guidance.

The SEISS, which has so far had 2.6m claims, was extended last month, with those eligible able to claim a second, final grant in August, as well as being able to receive the first.

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