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Self Employment Income Support Scheme

Please note: The calculator currently covers stage five of the scheme.

What was the Self-employment Income Support Scheme?

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic the government put in place a set of measures to help self-employed people (or those in a partnership) affected by Covid-19 called the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

The help came to an end on 30 September 2021 but the details below remain for reference purposes.

The SEISS was paid via five cash payments. Someone could apply for any of the payments outlined below:

Stage 1: Covered the period of 1 March to 13 July. During this time eligible people were able to apply for a taxable grant based on 80% of their average monthly profits, capped at a maximum of £2,500 a month.

Stage 2: Covered the period from 14 July to 19 October 2020. During this time eligible people were able to apply for a taxable grant based on 70% of their average monthly profits, capped at a maximum of £2,190 a month.

Stage 3: Covered the period from 1 November to the end of January 2021. During this time eligible people were able to apply for a taxable grant based on 80% of their average monthly profits, capped at a maximum of £2,500 a month.

Stage 4: Covered the period from 1 February 2021 to the end of April 2021. During this time eligible people will be able to apply for a taxable grant based on 80% of their average monthly profits, capped at a maximum of £2,500 a month.

Stage 5: Covered the period from 1 May 2021 to 30 September 2021. The amount of the fifth grant was determined by how much someone's turnover reduced in the year April 2020 to April 2021 (or sometimes April 2019 to April 2021, if 2019/20 was not a typical trading year). If their turnover reduction was 30% or more they received 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £7,500. If their turnover reduction was less than 30% they received 30% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £2,850.

For most people, the average monthly profit for stages 1 to 3 were based on their earnings in 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19. Stages 4 and 5 include earnings in 2019/20.

See this gov.uk guidance on how HMRC worked out total income, turnover and trading profits for the scheme, including some differing rules if you had a new child or were a military reservist.

Could I get it?

You were eligible for stages 1 to 3 if you submitted a Self-Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018/19 and traded in the tax year 2019/20, as long as your average trading profit for the years covered was below £50,000 a year.

Stage 4 and 5 needed you to have submitted a Self-Assessment tax return for the tax year 2019/20 before 2 March 2021 and also traded in the tax year 2020/21. Again, your average trading profit needs to be below £50,000 a year.

For all stages you should have received more than half of your total taxable income from self-employed earnings (you can therefore earn some income from other sources too).

You should have lost trading profits due to coronavirus and you are asked to confirm this. You should also intend to continue trading again when you are able. You will receive a penalty if you apply for a grant you are not entitled to.

When was it available?

Applications for each payment closed on 13 July 2020, 19 October 2020, 29 January 2021, 1 June 2021 and 30 September 2021, respectively.

If you were eligible, when your allocated claim date arrived, you needed to log in to the Government Gateway and then use the SEISS check service to make your claim. You needed your Self-Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) and your National Insurance number.

Once you completed your claim the money was paid into your bank account within six working days.

Did the grant affect other income, including benefits?

You were able to use the scheme and carry on earning if you could.

If your earnings dropped you may also have claimed benefits as well as the SEISS payment. Do note though that any money received via the grant counted as income for any benefits you may also have been able to claim.

If you claimed Universal Credit you needed to report any SEISS payment in the ‘Report income and expenses’ to-do in your online journal. 

Also see our blog Some tips for Universal Credit claimants entitled to the self-employment income support scheme for help on timing your SEISS payment to make the most of your Universal Credit monthly awards.

If you received a SEISS payment you were not able to claim New Style Jobseeker's Allowance unless you were working fewer than 16 hours a week before the Coronavirus outbreak. Receiving a SEISS payment didn't stop you making a claim to New Style Employment and Support Allowance.

Extra support for self-employed people in Northern Ireland - now closed

An extra scheme in Northern Ireland called the Newly Self-Employed Support Scheme provided a one-off £3,500 taxable payment to eligible businesses if they were affected by coronavirus but were ineligible for SEISS as they started trading as self-employed between 6 April 2019 and 5 April 2020.

To be eligible, apart from a few differences outlined below, businesses should use the same criteria for SEISS.

The differences are that:

  • If someone moved from paid employment to self-employment during 2019/20 they do not need to take into account the income from the paid employment when calculating the percentage of their taxable income received from self-employed earnings.
  • Only income from current employment will be taken into account when applying the 50 per cent income from self-employment rule - this excludes income such as pensions and benefits.
  • If income from current paid employment is less than £12,000, the 50 per cent criteria will not be applied.
  • You experienced at least a 40% decline in trading profits between 1 March and 30 November 2020.

The scheme opened for applications on 3 December 2020 and closed on 19 February 2021 (extended from 5 February). See the nibusinessinfo website for further details.

Extra support for directors in Northern Ireland - now closed

The Limited Company Directors Support Scheme (LCDSS) provided a one-off taxable grant of £1,000 to eligible directors affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in Northern Ireland. Eligibility included the following:

  • the director is a Person with Significant Control for the company/companies listed in their application (i.e. they hold more than 25 per cent of shares in the company);
  • they work in the company/companies named in the application;
  • at 31 March 2020, at least 50 per cent of their income came from their director’s salary and dividends;
  • their projected salary and dividends from the company for the 2020/2021 financial year is 40 per cent lower than it would have been in the absence of coronavirus;
  • their total projected taxable income for 2020/2021 is less than £50,000;
  • they are currently trading but impacted by reduced demand due to coronavirus, or they were previously trading but temporarily unable to due to coronavirus;
  • they were trading at 1 March 2020 and they intend to continue trading.

The scheme opened for applications on 21 January 2021 and closed on 4 March 2021. It was delivered by Invest Northern Ireland on behalf of the Department for the Economy. See the nibusinessinfo website for more information.

Extra support for self-employed people in Scotland - now closed

A further scheme in Scotland called the Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund provided a one-off £2,000 taxable payment to eligible businesses if they had been affected by coronavirus but were ineligible for SEISS as they started their business after 6 April 2019.

This scheme closed for new applications on 10 July 2020 and you should contact your local authority if you require further details about the scheme.

Further information

More details about SEISS are available on the gov.uk website.

Self-employed people with up to £30,000 of self-assessment liabilities were able to spread their July 2020 and January 2021 self-assessment tax payments over a 12 month payment (until January 2022) if they needed to. There was a 2.6% interest charge to do this.

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