News article

Coronavirus: Support and advice for the self-employed

19 March 2020

Help available for self-employed individuals dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 disruption to business activities

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected business activity and created uncertainty for those who are self-employed.

Business activities will be disrupted for some time depending on your sector. Practical actions which you can take now include:

  • discuss preparations with your clients, particularly about working remotely
  • check your contractual obligations, eg clauses dealing with unforeseeable circumstances that prevent you from fulfilling your contract
  • check to see what health or income protection insurance you might have in place

Help to claim benefits
Changes have been made to Statutory Sick Pay and how Universal Credit supports self-employed claimant. This is to make sure people in work can take the necessary time off to stay at home if they are suffering from coronavirus or to prevent its spread.

New claims to Universal Credit can be made online - additional telephone support is available via the Universal Credit Service Centre if you need help with a new claim.

Help with your business rates 
An emergency £100 million rates package has been announced to assist Northern Ireland businesses impacted by COVID-19.

See COVID-19: Emergency rates package for businesses.

Help to access finance
The new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will launch on Monday 23 March, delivered by the British Business Bank. Stay up-to-date with the latest information on the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan and find a list of accredited lenders and partners for the scheme.

If you cannot find a suitable lender, there are three online finance platforms designated by Government that can seek out suitable providers.

Help to manage your cashflow
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. Some firms have already started doing this.

Find more information on organisations who can provide advice on managing debt.

Help with your tax
You can call the HMRC’s coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline if you have difficulties paying your taxes on Tel: 0800 024 1222, during the following hours (excluding bank holidays):

  • Monday to Friday 8.00 am to 8.00 pm
  • Saturday 8.00am to 4.00pm

HMRC will discuss your specific circumstances to explore:

  • agreeing an instalment arrangement
  • suspending debt collection proceeding
  • cancelling penalties and interest where you have administrative difficulties contacting or paying HMRC immediately

First published 19 March 2020