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£3bn self employment grant claims

Claims for the government self employment grant have reached £3bn since the scheme opened on 13 May.

More than one million people have applied for the self employed income support scheme, which is designed to support self employed and freelance workers in a similar way to the furlough scheme for employees.

The grants are calculated as 80% of average monthly profit over a period of up to three years.

But income is only calculated from the 2018-19 tax year backwards, meaning thousands of newly self-employed people are not eligible. Those that registered as self employed from April 2019 onwards or only started earning more than 50% of their income from self employed work in the 2019-20 tax year will receive nothing.

People who pay themselves with dividends from a limited company are also not able to apply for the financial support.

The COVID-19 grant package is being processed by HMRC, which has been operating and overseeing loan schemes and the government’s furlough payments.

Eligible applicants will receive a single instalment covering three months, up to a maximum of £7,500 ($9077.78). The government said the funds should land in bank accounts within six working days of each claim.

The scheme was announced in March after the government faced fierce public criticism for failing to support the large self employed workforce. It has been rolled out several weeks ahead of schedule.

There is no news yet on whether the self employed initiative will be extended into the autumn in line with the furlough scheme, which protects 80% of employees’ wages up to £2,500 a month.

Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said: “With payments arriving before the end of this month, self-employed across the UK will have money in their pockets to help them through these challenging times.”

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