COVID-19 – self-employed income support scheme payments to be made later this month

May 04, 2020

In an update received at the weekend, HMRC have advised that the coronavirus self-employed income support scheme is now aiming to make payments by 25 May and not June as previously announced. A new online eligibility checker tool is also being launched this week. The letter to us from the Chancellor of the Exchequer is set out below.

“I’m writing to you as part of the UK’s expert tax community – at an important time for your industry and the country.

I know you have members and clients asking about the government’s new scheme to support self-employed people (the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme - SEISS), so I wanted to email you with an update now that the scheme is about to come into operation. I’m glad to be able to confirm that the SEISS will now be delivered ahead of the original June schedule, and we aim for all payments, to everyone who applied on time, to be made by 25 May.

SEISS is one of the most generous self-employed support schemes announced by any government in response to coronavirus. HMRC expects to contact around three and a half million self-employed people who may benefit from the grants of up to £7,500. Around 95% of those who earn the majority of their incomes from self-employment will be eligible.

It may be helpful to outline what will happen next. This week HMRC will start contacting self-employed people who are likely to be eligible, through a combination of emails, SMS texts and letters, to tell them what they need to do to get ready to claim. Applications will open in tranches based on the unique taxpayer number (UTR) given to all self-employed taxpayers.

From this week, people will be able to use a new online eligibility checker. If the checker confirms that they are eligible (and they qualify due to being affected by coronavirus and because they intend to continue trading), they will be given a date when they can use the online service to make a claim from 13 May.

Let me also put on record my gratitude to HMRC who have been working night and day to build the SEISS system from scratch. This follows the recent launch of the Coronavirus Job Retention (furlough) Scheme which has also been delivered ahead of schedule.

I hope you find this update helpful. I expect HMRC’s phone lines to get very busy over the coming weeks, so I would welcome your support in helping to answer your members’ and clients’ questions. I want to thank you for your invaluable support during these challenging times.”