I am writing with a further update about the Coronavirus crisis. Many of you will be aware that the Chancellor has just announced a new support package for the self-employed. I have attached at the end of this message a detailed explanation of how the scheme will work, which I hope will be helpful to those affected. The scheme will be backdated to the 1st of March, though as you will see, it will take a few weeks to set up. So those eligible will get money that covers this month and the scheme will last for at least three months.
I also want to draw the attention of those of you who are over 70 to the guidance about movement and staying at home. I think there has been a little confusion over this. If you are one of the 1.5 million people who have been contacted by the NHS and require shielding you should stay at home and not see anyone else face to face for the next three months. These are the guidelines for you.
But if you are over 70 and healthy, you should take very great care but otherwise the general guidelines apply to you.
All of the rest of the guidance for people about what is happening is here.
I know many of you are still struggling with getting home deliveries of shopping as you are worried about going to the supermarkets. I have been round all of our major stores locally and they are all now managing access carefully to protect shoppers and staff. I have spoken to them about improving the situation for those who are self-isolating and trying to get those who need it access to home delivery. They are trying to register more vulnerable people, but the home delivery services are clearly swamped with applications and so for those who are self-isolating and are struggling with getting shopping done, please either call the local branches of Age Concern…..
Age Concern Epsom & Ewell – 01372 732 455 or 732456
Age Concern Mole Valley – 01306 899104
Age Concern Banstead – 01737 352156
Surrey County Council Helpline 0300 200 1008
There are volunteers available to help you with shopping if you cannot go out yourselves.
Please let me know if you have any problems accessing this support.
Finally I am putting up all the information I get on my website www.chrisgrayling.net/coronavirus-covid-19-information.
I have also started to collect a list on my website of local restaurants, pubs and cafes which contact me to say they are switching to do takeaways. Please let me know of any which should be included. Please do support these local businesses which are suffering as a result of the virus and of the closures ordered by the Government.
Coronavirus Update – Our Package for the Self-Employed
The coronavirus outbreak is the biggest public health emergency in a generation. Our message to the public is clear: you must stay at home, in order to protect the NHS and save lives.
The Government said we would do whatever it takes to protect people’s jobs and incomes – and we meant it. We know many self-employed people are deeply anxious about the support available for them.
That is why the Chancellor has announced a new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme – helping many of our country’s self-employed workers: the musicians, the sound engineers, the plumbers, the electricians, the taxi drivers, the hairdressers, the childminders, the driving instructors, and many others.
Through this scheme, the Government will pay self-employed people a grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month – that’s unlike almost any other country and makes our scheme one of the most generous in the world.
We know there are challenging times ahead, but we are confident that the measures we have put in place will support millions of people, businesses and self-employed workers to get through this, and emerge on the other side both stronger and more united as a country. And we will get through this together.
The scheme the Chancellor has announced today is fair. It is targeted at those who need it the most. And crucially, it is deliverable:
- We are launching the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, to make sure people who work for themselves are getting the financial support they need. The Government will pay self-employed people across the whole UK who have been adversely affected by coronavirus a grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month, for three months – but we will extend it for longer if necessary.
- We will make it simple for self-employed people to get the financial support they need. Self-employed people who are eligible will be contacted by HMRC directly, asked to fill out a simple online form, and HMRC will pay the grant directly into their bank account. We expect people to access the scheme by the beginning of June.
- We are ensuring our support reaches those self-employed people who are most in need of it. The scheme will only be open to those with trading profits up to £50,000, leaving 95 per cent of people who are majority self-employed eligible for the scheme. HMRC will also ask people to demonstrate that the majority of their income comes from self-employment, and, to minimise fraud, only those who are already in self-employment, and who have a tax return for 2019, will be able to apply.
This builds on the support that is available to self-employed people:
- For self-employed people who are struggling now, we’ve also made sure that many will be able to access loans through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme. This scheme provides loans of up to £5 million, which will be interest free for twelve months.
- Supporting people through the welfare system so that nobody is penalised for doing the right thing. We will make it quicker and easier to access benefits. Those on contributory ESA will be able to claim from day 1, instead of day 8. And we are relaxing the requirement for anyone to physically attend a jobcentre – everything can be done by phone or online.
- Suspending the minimum income floor for twelve months – meaning self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate that is equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees.
- Deferring income tax self-assessment payments for July until the end of January 2021.
Q: Why are you making this change now?
We have already announced unprecedented measures to support people and businesses. These include the Coronavirus Interruption Loan Scheme set out at the Budget, and last week we announced £330 billion of loans and guarantees for businesses and a £7 billion boost to our welfare system, among others. We have been working with the Federation of Small Businesses, the association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, and the Trades Union Congress. Now we will give assurance. Providing such unprecedented support for self-employed people is operationally very challenging. The self-employed are a very diverse population. They have a wide mix of different levels of income, which even in normal times can vary hugely from month to month.
Q: Support not available until June?
HMRC are working day and night to get this scheme up and running. HMRC are also delivering other key schemes to a similar timescale, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Statutory Sick Pay rebate for employers. The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme also allows late tax filers a month to get their 2018-19 tax returns in within 4 weeks of the announcement of the scheme, which also creates some delay.