A number of initiatives have been introduced to support sole traders through these tough times – though pressure is growing on ministers to do more to help the self-employed. Further announcements are expected later today.
Pleas are growing for the government to give more financial assistance to freelancers, contractors and sole traders, whose businesses have been massively hit by the COVID-19 crisis.
What has been done so far? The deferral of VAT and Income Tax payments and grant funding covered elsewhere in this newsletter may be of help.
There are also changes to sick pay, aimed at giving assistance to sole traders. The Minimum Income Floor in Universal Credit is being suspended ‘for everyone affected by the economic impacts of coronavirus’.
The move means that self-employed people can now access Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees – approximately £95 a week.
The ‘new style’ Employment and Support Allowance will be payable for people directly affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating according to government advice from the first day of sickness, rather than the eighth day.
People will also be able to claim Universal Credit and access advance payments where they are directly affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating, without the current requirement to attend a Jobcentre.
Mortgage lenders have agreed they will support customers that are experiencing issues with their finances as a result of Covid-19, including through payment holidays of up to three months.
This will give people the necessary time to recover and ensure they do not have to pay a penny towards their mortgage in the interim.
It has also been announced that the proposed rollout of IR35 to the private sector in April has been postponed for one year as a result of COVID-19.
It is a delay that will be welcomed in most quarters. Even before the current situation there had been calls for the measures to be put on hold ( https://wnj.co.uk/ir35-delay/)