Corona Virus Act on help for the self-employed

 

On 25 March the Coronavirus Act 2020 received Royal Assent. It is a bumper piece of legislation, running to 348 pages and covering a wide range of areas (many excluding Scotland because of its devolved powers), including:

The explanatory notes for the original Bill (introduced on 19 March ) are here.

On 26 March, Rishi Sunak made his third post-Budget statement about Covid-19 support. The focus was a scheme directed at the self-employed (including members of partnerships) which had reportedly been delayed by the complexity of design and delivery. The main elements of the scheme, called the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), are:

One interesting side comment made by the Chancellor was that “…in devising this scheme … it is now much harder to justify the inconsistent contributions between people of different employment statuses”. The implication is that National Insurance contributions will have to rise for the self-employed, an idea Mr Sunak did not deny in press questioning after his statement.

Updated government Covid-19 guidance on business support is here and for employees is here.

Note:

This package is better than many had been expected, but the delayed starting date for payments will still leave many of the self-employed having to claim Universal Credit in the short term.

As with all relatively short statements of this nature, it is likely (inevitable) that there will be some questions and a need for greater detail. That will hopefully be forthcoming ahead of June.