Villiers welcomes Government help for self-employed people

Responding to concerns raised by constituents, Theresa Villiers MP has spoken up in Parliament to ask for more help for self-employed people during the Covid-19 outbreak. She welcomed the announcement yesterday by the Chancellor of the scheme to support the incomes of self-employed people. No where in the world has offered such a generous scheme and Theresa has issued the following statement:

"I appreciate the huge anxiety felt about how this health emergency will affect people’s ability to earn a living and pay their bills. So I have been keeping up the pressure on the Government to do all they can to help my constituents at this very difficult time for our country.

I share your concern about self-employed people who have lost their income because of Covid-19. I raised this issue in Parliament at an early stage in this crisis and urged the Government to take action. I repeated that call in the debate in the House of Commons on the Covid-19 emergency legislation.

The Government’s priority is to ensure people are not penalised for doing the right thing. A £330 billion package to help businesses and keep workers in jobs has been set up to supplement the substantial support included in the Budget.

Responding to the concerns I and others raised in Parliament, the Government has announced the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. Subject to certain limited exceptions, the Government will pay self-employed people who have been adversely affected by Coronavirus a taxable grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month, for three months. The duration of this scheme will be extended if necessary. Nowhere in the world has a more generous plan to help the self-employed.

Those who are eligible will be contacted by HMRC directly, asked to fill out an online form, and any grant awarded would be paid directly into their bank account. It is expected that people will be able to access the scheme by the beginning of June.

HMRC will also ask people to demonstrate that the majority of their income comes from self-employment, and, to minimise abuse of the scheme, only those who are already in self-employment, and who have a tax return for 2019, will be able to apply. These grants will not go to those with trading profits above £50,000 but that still means that 95 per cent of people who receive a majority of their income from self-employment will eligible for the scheme.

It is also the case that if you are self-employed, including in the gig-economy, welfare payments from the Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit (UC) are now available from day one of isolation. An additional £7 billion is being provided to the welfare system to make it more generous during this epidemic.

Businesses and self-employed people in financial distress may be able to get assistance with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances. HMRC have set up a helpline which can be reached at 0800 0159 559 and 2000 additional staff are available on the phone to support firms and individuals when needed.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has announced that changes to IR35 rules, which were a great concern to many self-employed and freelance contractors, have been postponed because of Covid-19. I have repeatedly raised this matter with the Government including on the floor of the House of Commons because I want to see fair treatment for self-employed workers.

The Chancellor has agreed with lenders that people with mortgages who need it will be given a three month payment holiday. These payments can be made at a later stage and credit ratings will not be affected. Evictions for rent arrears are being banned for three months too.

While the economic effects of the virus outbreak will be massive and far reaching, the Government is doing all it can to ensure that they are temporary. Thanks to the strong foundations the Government has built for our economy over several years it is possible to provide this substantial support to public services, individuals and businesses. The scale of the economic interventions now going ahead is unprecedented in our peacetime history and the Chancellor and the Prime Minister have said that they will do “whatever it takes” to get the economy through this crisis."

Further information on the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is available at the following link: