Self-employed UK visa holders can now apply for grant

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Rishi Sunak Chancellor of the Exchequer

Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street

Comments by Sanwar Ali:

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme as announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is still not as generous as Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme better known as the furlough scheme.   It is easier to come under the furlough scheme, which could include business owners who are on the payroll and receive a salary under PAYE.  Those who were employed on or before 19 March 2020 can come under the furlough scheme. 

However, under the Self_Employment Income Support Scheme you should have submitted a tax return for the previous tax year, which means that you should have started trading more than a year ago.  One advantage of the support scheme for self employed people is that you can continue working.  Under the furlough scheme the employee has to stop working; from August employees can work part-time.

Workpermit.com recently reported on a coronavirus-related grant scheme set to open for self-employed workers and the conditions of the scheme for UK visa holders. The Self Employed Income Support Scheme officially opened on 13 May, 2020 and is now accepting applications.

The scheme has been set up to match the support provided for employees who have been furloughed. It’s understood that grants will be calculated as 80% of a self-employed person’s average monthly profit over a period of up to three years.

According to an official announcement on the UK government website, funds from the scheme will be paid into the accounts of those eligible within six days of making an application. Payments will be capped at £7,500, which is intended to cover the months of March, April and May.  This amount is taxable.

Biggest financial support package since lockdown

The Self Employed Income Support Scheme represents the biggest, direct financial support package made available to the self-employed and freelance workers since lockdown began. The scheme will be overseen by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which has been managing the government’s existing coronavirus loan schemes and furlough payments.

According to HMRC, the majority of the 3.5 million people affected have been notified about the scheme and have been invited to submit a claim by using an eligibility checker.

Under the conditions of most UK visas, including the Tier 2 visa, migrants are not allowed to access public funds, otherwise known as ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF). However, the Home Office has confirmed that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will not be considered recourse to public funds.

Those invited to apply have been given a time to apply between the 13th and 18th of May, but HMRC has said that if there are people unable to apply within this timeframe, they should still apply after 18 May.

Earnings crisis for many people in the UK

Details of the Self Employed Income Support Scheme were first unveiled in March after the government faced a backlash for failing to offer a support package for freelancers and the self-employed as part of its initial package of economic measures.

Chief executive of the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, Derek Cribb, described the Self Employed Income Support Scheme as a ‘much-needed lifeline to the self-employed who are eligible for it.’

“For the self-employed, coronavirus is not only a health crisis, but also a pressing income crisis, until now they’ve been coping either by applying for Universal Credit or by digging into their savings,” Cribb said.

Some will miss out

Despite the introduction of the scheme, those who setup as self-employed from early April 2019 won’t benefit from the scheme, along with those who pay themselves through dividends from a limited company. Mr Cribb has urged the government to extend the scheme to include these groups, too.

The government recently extended the furlough scheme into October, but has given no indication as to whether the Self Employed Income Support Scheme will see a similar extension.

Announcing the extension of the furlough scheme on 12 May, UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “With payments arriving before the end of this month, the self-employed across the UK will have money in their pockets to help them through these challenging times.”

Applying for the grant scheme as a self-employed migrant

For more information on the conditions you must meet as a self-employed migrant in the UK, read this report.

Coronavirus in the UK

As of 14 May, 2020 coronavirus cases in the UK had reached 229,705 with the death toll at 33,186, according to official figures. Meanwhile, a health minister recently hailed what he described as a ‘game-changing immunity test.’

Edward Argar said that a recently developed test “appears to be extremely reliable and it’s got the green light from Public Health England testers.”

Latest coronavirus updates, visa and immigration restrictions

For the latest updates on the coronavirus, plus details of visa and immigration restrictions worldwide, check Workpermit.com’s news feed to stay informed.

To apply for a UK visa extension amid the coronavirus pandemic, see this recent Workpermit.com news report.

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