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HMRC webinar gives out wrong info on timing of second self-employment grant



How the bizarre new self-employment grant rule works

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) provides Government grants to self-employed inviduals whose trading profits have been adversely affected by coronavirus. Applications for the first grant are open now and applications for the second open in August – see full info in our Self-Employed Coronavirus Help guide.

A couple of weeks ago, we got the guidance for the second grant. Most was as flagged, but then we spotted the following line: “You will have to confirm your business has been adversely affected on or after 14 July 2020.” So we thought we’d dig into it.

The Government’s own press release back on 26 March stated: “The income support scheme… will cover the three months to May,” ie, March, April and May. Logic (and basic counting) therefore suggests the second three month grant covers June, July and August.

So it was very strange to read the new rule that says you have to declare your business was impacted after mid-Jul, and unfair on businesses heavily impacted in Jun and recovered by then.

Having spoken to HMRC, it has now says the grants don’t relate to a specific three-month time period, they are just grants – though based on three months of trading profits. 

The rules then are simple:

  • The first grant is for those whose ‘business was impacted by Covid-19 before 13 Jul’ 
  • The second, which comes in Aug, is for those ‘impacted by Covid-19 on or after 14 Jul’. 
  • If impacted before and after those dates, you are due both.

But, as Martin said in last week’s email, the implication and message this sends is as clear as mud. If, as the Government announced, the first ‘three-month’ grant covered March, April and May, but also now sort-of June and half of July, what does the second ‘three-month’ grant cover?

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