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Coronavirus - if you're self-employed

This advice applies to England

If your business has been affected by coronavirus you might be able to get money from the government, for example if you've:

  • lost out on income
  • had to stop working to look after someone

You could get 80% of your average profits up to a maximum of £7,500 for 3 months from the government. This is called the Self-employment Income Support Scheme.

If you're eligible, you can get money to cover lost income for 3 months, from 1 November 2020 to 31 January 2021. 

You have until 29 January 2021 to apply. The government have also said you can apply for a new payment from February 2021, to cover lost income for the next 3 months.

You won’t have to pay the money back, but you’ll have to pay tax on it.

If you have to self-isolate

The law says you have to stay at home and self-isolate if:

  • you or someone you live with tests positive for coronavirus
  • the NHS tell you to self-isolate because someone you had contact with has coronavirus

If you can’t work from home, you might be able to get a self-isolation payment of £500 from your local council. You can get this as well as a payment from the Self-employment Income Support Scheme.

You can check if you can get a self-isolation payment or other benefits.

Check if you're eligible for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme

You can use the scheme if you’re self-employed or a member of a partnership. 

Your self-employed profits must not be more than £50,000 per year and they must make up at least half of your total income. The government will look at your tax returns to see if you’re eligible - if you’re not sure you can check the rules on GOV.UK.

You’ll need to expect a significant loss of profits between 1 November 2020 and 31 January 2021 because of coronavirus. This could be because either:

  • you have less demand - for example, if you have fewer customers than usual

  • you have to temporarily stop trading - for example, if you have to stop working to care for someone

You should keep any evidence to show how you’ve been affected by coronavirus so you can prove you’ve lost income.

You’ll also have to:

  • have done self-employed work in the tax year 2019-20
  • be planning to do self-employed work in the tax year 2020-21

You’ll probably also need to have done self-employed work in the tax year 2018-19 and submitted your tax return. If you didn’t do self-employed work in 2018-19 you should check the scheme rules on GOV.UK.

If you don’t think you’re eligible

You can check what benefits you can get.

Check how much you’ll get

HMRC will calculate how much you should get based on your self-employed profits. You’ll get 1 payment to cover lost income for 3 months.

You can find out more about the scheme rules on GOV.UK 

Applying for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme 

You can apply for the scheme on GOV.UK.

If you can’t apply online, you can check how to contact HMRC for help on GOV.UK.

If HMRC accept your application, they say they’ll pay you within 6 working days. 

If you need money while you’re waiting, you can check what benefits you can get

You’re allowed to keep working and still get money from the scheme. You can also get another job as an employee somewhere else. But you should remember:

  • you’re only eligible for the scheme if you plan to continue trading in this tax year - you might have to pay the money back if you apply and then stop trading
  • the money you get from the scheme is taxable income, so you might end up paying more tax

If you have problems with your payments

Tell HMRC as soon as possible, for example if you think you weren’t paid enough. You can check how to contact HMRC on GOV.UK.

If you think you were paid too much or shouldn’t have been paid at all

You should tell HMRC and pay the money back on GOV.UK. If you can’t tell them online, you can check other ways to contact HMRC on GOV.UK.

If you were paid:

  • before 22 July 2020, you should tell HMRC by 20 October 2020
  • on or after 22 July 2020, you should tell HMRC within 90 days of your payment date

If your company pays people through PAYE

You can apply for a grant to pay them 80% of their wages under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on GOV.UK. 

If you need help while you’re waiting for money through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, you might also be able to use the Business Interruption Loan Scheme on GOV.UK.

Check if something is a scam

Make sure you only use trusted sources of information about coronavirus.

If you see emails about coronavirus from someone you don't know, don't click on any links or pay for anything. 

Never move your money into a ‘safe account’ if someone asks you to - even if they say they’re from the police or your bank.

You can protect your business by:

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