Coronavirus: Support and advice for the self-employed

News article

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 - now closed) and May 2021 to September 2021 (fifth grant).

Eligibility: Check if you can claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

How to access: The online claims service for the fifth grant will be available from late July 2021. Find out more about the fifth grant.

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.

See Coronavirus: Deferred Self-Assessment payments.

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.

See Support for businesses paying tax.

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 2022.

See COVID-19: Emergency rates package for businesses and Rates support for businesses.

Additional relief: Businesses can also avail of the Small Business Rate Relief and the Hardship Rate Relief scheme for non-domestic ratepayers affected by exceptional circumstances.

Help to claim benefits

If you're getting less work or no work because of coronavirus, you can also:

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