Coronavirus: Support and advice for the self-employed
Overview of the support and help available to self-employed individuals during the COVID-19 disruption
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted business activity and created uncertainty for those who are self-employed. The following measures have been designed to provide help and support to them during these challenging times.
Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
Support available: Grants to self-employed individuals whose businesses have been impacted by coronavirus. The scheme has been extended to cover periods February 2021 to April 2021 (fourth grant) and May 2021 to September 2021 (fifth grant).
How to access: The online claims service for the fourth grant will be available from late April 2021. Find out more about the fourth grant.
VAT payment deferral
Support available: If you deferred VAT between 20 March and 30 June 2020 and still have payments to make, you can: pay the deferred VAT in full now; opt-in to the VAT deferral new payment scheme; or contact HMRC on Tel: 0800 024 1222 by 30 June 2021, if you need more help to pay
Eligibility: All UK VAT registered businesses are eligible, including all legal entities as well as self-employed sole traders that are UK VAT registered.
How to access: If you want to opt-in to the new payment scheme, you must join the scheme online by 21 June 2021. The payment scheme will allow you to pay your deferred VAT in instalments without adding interest. All instalments must be paid by the end of March 2022. You must opt-in yourself, your agent cannot do this for you.
Self-Assessment payment deferral
Support available: If you're self-employed, you were able to delay making a Self-Assessment payment on account in July 2020 because of coronavirus. This was added to your tax bill due by 31 January 2021.
Eligibility: You had the option to defer your second payment on account if you were:
- registered in the UK for Self Assessment and
- finding it difficult to make that payment by 31 July 2020 due to the impact of coronavirus
How to access: Deferred Self-Assessment payment was an automatic offer. You didn't need to apply. The deferment was optional.
Help with your tax
All self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service.
This allows businesses and individuals to pay off their debt by instalments over a period of time. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.
You are eligible if your business:
- pays tax or duties to the UK government
- has outstanding tax liabilities
You can call the HMRC's coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline if you have difficulties paying your taxes on Tel: 0800 024 1222. Opening times for this service are Monday to Friday 8:00 to 16:00.
Business rates relief
Support available: A number of measures are available to assist Northern Ireland businesses impacted by COVID-19 with rate payments:
- Rates relief for specific sectors - the sectors identified by the NI Executive for a rates free period will pay no rates for the full financial year up until 31 March 2021.
Help to claim benefits
If you're getting less work or no work because of coronavirus, you can also:
- Apply online for Universal Credit - additional telephone support is available via the Universal Credit Service Centre if you need help with a new claim. See further guidance on claiming Universal Credit when you are self-employed.
- Apply for New-Style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), if you're unable to work due to an underlying health condition, are self-isolating or have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Contact the ESA Centre for support with your application.
Help to manage your cashflow
If you're experiencing financial difficulties, talk to your existing finance provider to see what they can do to help you manage existing debt.
If you have an existing loan or asset purchase (for example a lease or HP agreement), you could ask for a repayment holiday. You may also need a new or increased overdraft facility, or to secure additional finance. Talk to your customers, especially large customers, and ask if they can pay your invoices more quickly.
Find more information on organisations that can provide advice on managing debt.
First published 19 March 2020