BRITAIN'S five million self-employed workers will be entitled to grants to cover disruption to their business cause by the coronavirus outbreak.
Grants of up to 80 per cent of profits lost because of the virus will be available from June.
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Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the "unprecedented" bailout package last night for Britain’s self-employed workers.
Many workers, including hairdressers, chefs, taxi drivers and childcare providers have either lost their entire income or seen it dramatically reduced since the start of the outbreak.
These people may now be given a Government grant. Here we explain who can get one and how to get one.
How much money is available?
The grants being made available will be calculated by looking at average monthly profits from the last three years of up to £2,500 a month.
Average monthly payouts are thought to be about £940 each per month.
For example, a freelancer with average trading profits of £18,000 a year over the last three years would be able to get £1,200 per month.
If a worker has been self employed for less than three years, the calculation will be based on the tax returns they have made.
The Government has said the grants are taxable so it's likely those who receive one will need to declare them on their next tax return, if their salary has returned to normal by then, although the exact details are yet to be announced.
Who qualifies for the self-employed grants?
Anyone who is self employed and has been financially affected by the pandemic should be eligible for one of the grants – but there are some exceptions.
They are only available to workers who have the majority of their income from self-employment.
Those who have not yet filed a tax return, because they haven't been self-employed for long, are also excluded from the scheme.
It’s also only available to those with profits of up to £50,000.
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How can I apply for a grant?
Grants aren’t available to all self-employed workers automatically, they’re only for those who have been adversely affected by the pandemic, who during this time had at least half of their work coming from self-employment.
You won't apply for them, HMRC is contacting workers directly to tell them if they are eligible.
It will ask them to fill out a form and the money will be paid directly into their bank accounts.
When will the money be paid?
The grants will not be available until the first week of June but payments will be backdated until March 1.
What about workers who pay themselves a salary?
Workers who pay themselves a salary and dividends through their own company won’t be covered by this.
If they operate PAYE schemes they can apply to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for help.
Can self-employed workers apply for Universal Credit?
You may be able to claim Universal Credit if you have lost income because of the virus outbreak.
For those unable to claim the new grants, this may be the only option if you're looking for help with your income.
Universal Credit is the controversial new welfare system which replaced six benefits – including working tax credit and housing benefit – with one monthly payment.
The amount of money you can get, known as the standard allowance, usually ranges between £251.77 and £498.89 depending on your age and whether or not you're part of a couple.
But it will be increased to £1,040 on April 6 for new and existing claimants.
At the moment there is a five-week wait until the money is paid for Universal Credit.
There are also long waiting times for those calling the helpline, although the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has said its recruiting more workers to deal with the demand.
Can self-employed workers apply for sick pay?
To allow more people to access statutory sick pay, which is at least £94.25 a week, the chancellor has also suspended the self-employed Universal Credit minimum income floor for everyone affected by the virus.
The Universal Credit minimum income floor applies to those who've been self-employed for more than a year.
It's the amount you're thought to earn each month, and is used to work out how much Universal Credit you get on top of your earnings.
If you earn below this level in any month, you are treated as earning the minimum income floor.
If you are earning more than the minimum income floor, your actual earnings are taken into account instead.
Those off work from coronavirus may also be able to get help with their income loss by signing up to contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) either instead or at the same time as getting Universal Credit.
To be eligible, you need to have worked as an employee or been self-employed and paid enough National Insurance contributions in the past two to three years.
What else is being offered to self-employed workers?
For those late paying their tax return, due at the end of January, you now have four weeks in order to complete and pay this.
The Government has also extended payments due in July 2020 under self assessment to January 2021.
VAT payments have also been delayed from now until June 30, although this only relates to workers who earn more than £85,000.
The Government has launched a scheme to help businesses in England (the rules are different elsewhere) with loans and grants but whether you qualify if you're self-employed depends on whether you're also a small business.
Under this, small businesses that already pay little or no business rates may qualify for a one-off grant of £10,000.
Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible.
Vouchers are available for children who usually get free school meals for £15 a week.
Lots of high street shops have now closed their online trading because of the virus including Next.
We have a full list of the shops that are still open for essential shopping.
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