Self-employed SOS: coronavirus, universal credit and housing benefit
At the moment, the self-employed are under more pressure than most.
Many are fruitlessly chasing late invoices. Work in many sectors has all but dried up. The lockdown has made a lot of self-employed activities impossible. Yet the bills still keep piling up.
Unlike employed people, sole traders don’t qualify for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, in which the government covers 80% of ‘furloughed’ workers (i.e. those on an enforced leave of absence).
The chancellor has signalled that there is a more generous support package for the self-employed in the pipeline. However, he says that designing a deliverable and fair system will be difficult, even if a group of clever fintech workers are intent on proving him wrong.
So, if you’re self-employed and struggling, what help is out there to keep you going and make sure you have a roof over your head? We’ve put this ‘self-employed SOS’ together to help you.
Claiming universal credit
Currently, your best bet is likely to be Universal Credit. If you are required to stay at home (as most of us now are) or are ill as a result of coronavirus, the minimum income floor will not be applied for the time you are affected. The Government has also increased the standard allowance.
The amount of universal credit you get will depend on a range of circumstances, including whether you’re single or in a couple, whether you’ve got children, any earnings your partner may have and so on. Moneysavingexpert.com has a useful benefits calculator you can use to find out how much you’re entitled to. This can range from a standard allowance of £342.72 for a single person under the age of 25 to £594.04 for a couple over that age.
Major changes to housing benefit
The standard allowance may not be very large, but from April the housing element of universal credit will be unfrozen. This can be used to cover rent, the interest on your mortgage and any service charges you pay.
The chancellor has said housing support will cover the bottom 30% of rents in any particular area. Moneysavingexpert.com calculates that, in one London borough, you will be able to claim a maximum of £1,550 per month – up from £1,390.
So, if you’re self-employed and struggling, it’s wise to apply for universal credit now rather than wait for any future support package. You can start your claim for the benefit here.
Other Self-employed SOS help
There are a few other things happening that will help you as a self-employed person. In particular:
- Income Tax payments due in July 2020 are now deferred until January 2021 under the Self Assessment system
- IR35 changes were due to be introduced in April this year. The government has just announced an IR35 delay. IR35 reforms will now be introduced on 6 April 2021.
Remember, we will be publishing news and updates about coronavirus and self-employment as we get them. So be sure to check our blog daily and sign up for our newsletter.