Earlier this evening (26 March 2020) the UK Chancellor announced the new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme to help the self-employed face the economic hardship wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are the key points:

  • The scheme will provide direct cash grants of 80 per cent of individuals’ taxable profits (based on average monthly trading profit over the three tax years 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19), up to £2,500 per month.
  • The scheme will be open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19 or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19. To qualify, more than half of their income in those periods must come from self-employment. 95 per cent of self-employed individuals are expected to benefit with this limitation.
  • The scheme will initially run for three months from 1 March and is expected to be accessible from June.
  • To prevent fraud, it will only apply to those that are already self-employed and have a tax return from 2018-19. Those that missed the deadline for that tax return (31 January this year) are allowed an additional four weeks to complete it.
  • Individuals should not contact HMRC now. HMRC will use their existing information to determine potential eligibility and contact individuals asking them to make applications once the scheme is operational.
  • Importantly, the scheme does not apply to individuals who operate through a company and pay themselves a salary and dividends through that company. Instead, those individuals and their companies will be able to use the previously announced Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to the extent that the companies operate PAYE schemes and qualify for benefits under the Job Retention Scheme. However, the scheme announced today will apply to self-employed members of partnerships.

The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme is meant to be equivalent to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme announced on 20 March 2020 to support employees (reported by us Coronavirus: UK Chancellor announces unprecedented measures to support the British economy). Given the parity in treatment under the two schemes, and as a separate matter, the Chancellor has also suggested that he might look in due course to eliminate the differences in National Insurance Contribution (NIC) obligations for the employed and self-employed in order to recoup at a later stage some of the huge costs being incurred now.

Photo of Stephen Pevsner Stephen Pevsner

Stephen Pevsner is a tax partner and a member of the Corporate Department.

Stephen’s practice focuses on UK and international M&A and private equity transactions, corporate reorganizations, and new business formations. Offering a broad range of corporate tax strategy experience, his clients include…

Stephen Pevsner is a tax partner and a member of the Corporate Department.

Stephen’s practice focuses on UK and international M&A and private equity transactions, corporate reorganizations, and new business formations. Offering a broad range of corporate tax strategy experience, his clients include global corporations, investment banks, and private equity sponsors and investors.

In addition to his wealth of transactional knowledge he also has substantive experience advising on the formation of private investment funds and the establishment of investment management and advisory limited partnerships.

According to Chambers UK, Stephen is a notable practitioner in the corporate tax field, praised for “his ability to master the intricacies of tax law and understand the commercial aspects of the deal”.

Stephen is a member of the BVCA Tax Committee and is a regular speaker at conferences and contributor to publications such as the Tax Journal and Tolley’s.

Photo of Philip Gilliland Philip Gilliland

Philip Gilliland is an associate in the Tax Department.

Prior to joining Proskauer, Philip trained in the London office of a major international law firm where he worked on restructuring and insolvency, corporate M&A and tax matters. During his training contract he undertook…

Philip Gilliland is an associate in the Tax Department.

Prior to joining Proskauer, Philip trained in the London office of a major international law firm where he worked on restructuring and insolvency, corporate M&A and tax matters. During his training contract he undertook a secondment at Unilever.

Philip earned his B.A. from St Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge.