What help is there for the self employed?

It seems that every day the realities of the situation the economy is in just gets worse. I am sure you are like us you are pleased that the government is pumping money into small businesses. But what happens if you are self-employed or trade as a sole trader rather than limited business?

So, included in this blog is a summary of what help is available for you if you are self-employed or worried about your personal financial affairs.  We are monitoring this closely and will be in touch once we know more.

Universal Credit 

Universal Credit is a monthly payment to help with your living costs. It is available for anyone, even if you are self-employed. But as always you need to meet fairly specific criteria; namely you are on a low income or out of work.  If you’re expected to look for and be available for work, then it needs to be identified whether you’re ‘gainfully self- employed’.

Gainful self-employment means that:

  • your main employment is self-employment
  • you have self-employed earnings
  • your work is organised, developed, regular and in expectation of profit

As you would expect, you must provide evidence about your business and what you are earning through your business.

Money tree in hand

If you’re gainfully self-employed, your Universal Credit payment may be calculated using an assumed level of earnings, called a Minimum Income Floor.  It’s based on what an employed person on minimum wage would expect to earn in similar circumstances. If you earn more than this, then your Universal Credit amount is based on your actual earnings. If you earn less, the Minimum Income Floor is used to work out how much you can get. You may need to look for additional work to top up your income.

To check if you are eligible for Universal credit go to: https://www.gov.uk/self-employment-and-universal-credit

Mortgage Repayment

From 17th March you can ask for up to a three-month repayment deferment on your mortgage to give you some breathing space. This deferment applies to homeowners and buy-to-let landlords, to allow them to pass on the payment reduction or deferment to their tenants. It will not affect your credit score. However, you must agree your repayment deferment with your bank, otherwise you may skip a payment and it will show a default on your credit score. Please speak to your bank if you want to organise a deferment on your mortgage.

House key ring

Talk with your network and get creative

Now is not the time to lie low. Now is the time to get talking to your network. Firstly pick up the phone, otherwise email or message via social media. They may be aware of some opportunities for you to generate some work. Now, is also the time to be creative with your skill set. For example, if you run a hospitality business and can’t work from home, how about offering skype one-to-one cooking classes?

Event cancellations

If you lost money due to an event being cancelled the outline is:

  1. Contact the organiser first
  2. Organisers that postpone events don’t have to refund until they announce the new date
  3. Ask your ticketing platform about refunds
  4. If you are struggling to get a refund then your credit card provider could help with a refund

You might not get all of your money back – but it’s worth fighting for.

Event plan written on notepad

Time to Pay Arrangement

Lastly, a dedicated Helpline has been set up to help businesses & self-employed in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities. Call this helpline to be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement with HMRC. This is where you agree with HMRC a bespoke payment plan for your outstanding tax liabilities. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, talk to us first as we can help you plan your call to HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

July 2020 payment on account

As announced on Friday you could defer this payment but as it is 22 March, I would keep this option on the back burner as you may still have to pay it in January 2021, it is effectively a loan.

VAT Deferment

VAT on ipad

We do not know enough about this, but again it is a deferred loan that may help you now.  If you are going to take advantage of this “loan” I would take it, put it in the bank and pay it back once business is back as usual, treat it like a quick safety net but it is a loan.

Our Advice

As your accountants we can help you as part of our service (no extra charge at all!) we can help you to plan initially for the next four months by looking at your business online and helping you to forecast.  We can also negotiate with HMRC or the banks for you and anyone else that you want us to, we are here to help.

I would also suggest that you list all of your household bills including leisure time (restaurants, shopping etc) and make decisions about what you are paying for, again we can help.

Once we have done that the next step is to Plan Plan Plan and Plan even more.  We will all get through this together and once we are back to business in full with the right planning and staying on top of your business you will without doubt be stronger and in a great position to thrive.

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