Ask Alys: What if I'm self-employed?

Covid19: UniteLive answers a key question ahead of Unite Facebook LIVE Legal Q&A

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In our latest Ask Alys feature, we look at another aspect of employment rights and support amid the Covid-19 epidemic, specifically for the self-employed. As we are aware that you may have many more questions than we can cover here, as part of our legal support to members, Unite is hosting a LIVE question and answer session today on Friday, April 3rd at 5pm with Howard Beckett, Unite’s Assistant General Secretary for Political & Legal Affairs.


In a session facilitated by Laura Pidcock, Howard will be answering as many of your questions as possible alongside his legal team of experts.  If you want to watch live, please visit our Facebook page on Friday at 5pm by clicking on this link.


You can also post questions on the Facebook thread of the live broadcast. We will try to answer as many of these as possible during the session.


If you cannot tune in at that time, don’t worry, the session will be recorded and you can watch back later.


Q: What support will I get if I’m self-employed?


Unite solicitor Alys Cunningham outlines what help you can get if you are self-employed.


A: Following pressure from Unite, on March 26 the Chancellor announced the Self-employed Income Support Scheme, which will provide the financial support to the self-employed members whose income is up to £50,000. Key points of the scheme released so far are:


  • It will pay the self-employed that have lost profits due to COVID-19 a taxable grant worth 80% of average monthly income up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.


  • The scheme is only open to those with trading profits of up to £50k.  The Self-employed whose profits exceed this will not qualify for any payment.


  • Income will be calculated by taking the average of income over the last three years, based on the individual’s self-assessment tax returns (for the 16/17, 17/18 and 18/19 tax years) or, if trading for less than 3 years, based on the tax returns you have submitted.


  • Self-employed members can claim these grants and continue to do business, provided you have lost profits due to Coronavirus (which is different to the employee scheme, where employees have to remain at home).


  • The scheme is only open to individuals who make the majority of income from self-employment. If you are employed but have a ‘side job’ which is self-employed, you will not be eligible for a self-employed grant


  • The scheme is only open to those who have submitted a tax return for 2019 (to minimise fraud).  However, the deadline has been extended for anyone who did not submit their tax return by the due date of 31 January 2020. If you have not yet submitted your 2018/19 tax return, you now have four weeks (until 23 April 2020) to submit this.


  • You then do not need to take any further steps.  HMRC will contact the eligible self-employed directly inviting them to fill out an online form and then pay the grant straight into their bank account.


  • The scheme will be open for at least 3 months.  However, the scheme is unlikely to be up and running before June, so it will not help with immediate cash flow issues.


  • The Government’s site with the full details they have released can be access here. Please note of the warning regarding scams and be vigilant.


Until the scheme goes live the only option for self-employed prevented from working due to Coronavirus is to claim Universal credit and any other qualifying benefits. The minimum income floor for Universal Credit has been removed.


Get more Unite Covid-19 advice here. And don’t forget to tune into our Facebook Live Q&A Legal session tonight (Friday, April 3) at 5pm.

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