Go online now to claim self-employed support
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Applications for the Covid-19 Self-employed Income Support Scheme have opened a month early, so now is the time to act, says Shaun Davison of Lovewell Blake.
When the Chancellor announced support for self-employed people affected by the coronavirus crisis at the end of March, he warned that the scale of the scheme would mean that it would be June before claims could be made – so all credit to HMRC for managing to open applications this week, a month early.
Eligible individuals should have received a communication from HMRC inviting them to apply, with a date and time to do so. This is the earliest you can apply, but you can do so at any time after that date. The idea is to stagger applications so that the website is not overwhelmed by everyone trying to get online at the same time.
If you haven’t received a letter and think you qualify for support, there is a useful eligibility checker on the HMRC website. If this indicates that you can claim, it will give you a date from which you can do so; if it suggests you are not eligible, there is an appeals process (also online). HMRC says it will start to look at such appeals from next week.
One important point is that you have to apply online yourself, so you can’t ask your accountant to do it for you. That means you will need a Government Gateway account. Usually applying for this takes a few days, but there is a streamlined registration process available through the eligibility checker.
To apply, all you will need are your Unique Tax Reference (UTR), NI number, Government Gateway credentials and your bank details, and you can access the HMRC portal through the eligibility checker. Once you have entered your details, your personal calculation will appear; it’s a good idea to print this screen, as once you have completed your application you can’t go back in.
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It’s important to point out that this scheme is aimed at those who have been “adversely affected” by Covid-19, and you will be asked to confirm this is the case. To get the help out there quickly, HMRC is not asking for proof at this stage, but they might do so in the future, so you should keep any evidence. This is taxpayer money which is being handed out, so it’s right that checks are made to ensure it is getting to people who need it.
The scheme runs for three months until the end of May, and payments will be made on May 25, or six working days after applying – so most will receive their cash before the end of the month.
Visit the Lovewell Blake website here.
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