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Government response
government response summary
The recently self-employed can access a range of financial support. However, to protect against fraud, only those with tax records for 2018-19 qualify for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.
government response details
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) helps those adversely affected by COVID-19. It means the UK has one of the most generous self-employed COVID-19 support schemes in the world.As the Chancellor highlighted when announcing the SEISS, to ensure that the scheme is deliverable, only those who are already in self-employment and had a tax return for 2018-19 are able to apply. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to include those who began trading after the 2018-19 tax year in the SEISS. This was a very difficult decision and it was taken for practical reasons. Unlike for employees, the income of self-employed people is not reported monthly, but at the end of each tax year on the individual’s Income Tax Self Assessment return. This means that the most reliable and up-to-date record of self-employed income is from the 2018-19 tax returns. The Government recognises that those who started trading more recently will not have submitted a tax return for the 2018-19 tax year, and it considered alternative approaches. Unfortunately, HMRC would not be able to distinguish genuine self-employed individuals who started trading in 2019-20 from fake applications by fraudulent operators and organised criminal gangs seeking to exploit the SEISS.HMRC designed the SEISS using information already in hand, in order to make it deliverable quickly and to minimise the risk of fraud. Expanding the scope would have required HMRC to collect and verify new information. This would have taken longer to deliver and put at risk the other schemes which the Government committed to delivering as quickly as possible.Ineligibility for the SEISS does not mean there is no other support available. The SEISS is part of a comprehensive package of support for self-employed people, including Bounce Back loans, income tax deferrals, rental support, increased levels of Universal Credit, mortgage holidays and the various business support introduced to protect businesses during this time. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at Treasury
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