Coronavirus/COVID-19 - Help for the Self-employed
There are over 4.8 million self-employed workers in the UK, amounting to 15% of the labour force, generating £300 billion for the economy.
But while the UK Government announced a number of schemes to support businesses and salaried workers throughout the crisis, help for the self-employed is one area where the Government has been slow to respond and the current support is woefully inadequate.
This article has been written specifically for those in the UK who are self-employed. It contains information on the measures available to assist you through the financial difficulties the coronavirus emergency presents.
I have no income due to the coronavirus
Universal Credit / Employment & Support Allowance:
If your earnings fall below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week, and you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home due to the new rules, you can now more easily claim for Universal Credit or new style Employment and Support Allowance. If you are eligible, it will be payable from day 1 (rather than the standard day 8).
Support for rent costs:
Support for rental costs will be paid through Universal Credit.
If you can’t pay your rent as a result of coronavirus restrictions, explain your situation to your landlord and discuss payment deferral and a plan for catching up on arrears. Contact your nearest Citizens Advice bureau, an advisor can help you explain things to your landlord and can also check if you can get extra financial help.
Mortgage Payment Holidays:
The Government has announced that if you can’t pay your mortgage because of coronavirus you might be able to take a 3-month payment holiday. This applies to residential mortgages and some Buy-to-Let mortgages but not Commercial mortgages. Speak directly with your mortgage provider.
Support for utilities costs:
If you are struggling to cover your monthly overheads, speak to your energy suppliers / water company / council tax service as soon as you can. You might be able to set up a payment plan with them to help spread the cost of your bills. If you have a prepayment meter, your supplier will try to help you find ways to keep your energy supply connected. Link to additional advice: energy bills, water bills, council tax.
Suspend or Cancel subscriptions:
Review and cancel non-essential subscriptions and memberships.
Sky Sports customers can now pause their subscription while sports events are suspended.
Bank Overdraft Buffer:
HSBC is offering a £300 overdraft buffer, others may follow. Call you bank to find out what they are doing to help their customers during coronavirus.
Shops are extending their returns policies:
Many retailers have extended their returns policy from 28 to 100 days for items bought in stores and online.
Package holidays or flight cancellations:
You are due cash, not vouchers. The rules state that you are due a full refund, yet many firms try and direct you towards vouchers. Stand your ground for a full cash refund.
When you call your creditors, mortgage lenders, utilities etc. asking for help due to loss of income you must say “I have no income due to the coronavirus”, that’s the key word they need to be able to enact their new policies, defer payments, halt late fees etc. And apparently, they cannot coach you to say it. You have to do it yourself.
Finally, we cannot stress enough the importance of every single person adhering to Government rules on Lockdown. We have seen in the news and in our local areas many people ignoring the guidance on social distancing which has resulted in more stringent measures being put in place.
Our message is simple: every day the rules are breached is another delay to economic and business recovery, the longer the delay the greater the impact.
We implore you, your family and your friends to take the coronavirus spread prevention measures seriously and help to minimise the lockdown period.