The Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) was introduced earlier this year by Rishi Sunak in a bid to help self-employed workers in Britain amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has championed the scheme and its expansion to include 600,000 new self-employed workers. The scheme is still facing criticism from many, with some estimating up to three million are still ineligible for help but are you included in the 600,000 now eligible for the scheme?
What is the SEISS scheme?
The Government’s SEISS scheme is essentially a self-employed version of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, colloquially known as the furlough scheme.
Under the scheme, you can claim up to 80 percent of average monthly trading profits fro three months, up to a maxim of £7,500.
The SEISS grant has been extended three times so far, with claim forms for the fourth grant due to be made available from late April 2021.
READ MORE: Robert Peston hails ‘stroke of genius’ chart in Rishi Sunak grilling
In addition to confirming the fourth and fifth grants, the Chancellor also revealed the scheme would not be accessible to up to 600,000 more people.
The scheme has faced continued backlash and criticism regarding its exclusion of millions of people.
Mr Sunak said: “I can also announce a major improvement in access to the self-employed scheme.
“When the scheme was launched, the newly self-employed couldn’t qualify because they hadn’t all filed the 2019-20 tax return.
“But as the tax return deadline has now passed, I can announce today that, provided they filed a tax return by midnight last night, over 600,000 more people, many of whom became self-employed last year can now claim the fourth and fifth grants.
“Over the course of this crisis, we will have spent £33 billion supporting the self-employed; one of the most generous programmes for self-employed people anywhere in the world.”
Martin Lewis warns Britons about hidden tax charges ‘worth billions’ [INSIGHT]
IR35: Rishi Sunak’s rollout will be ‘disastrous for self-employed’ [EXPLAINER]
Martin Lewis sets July date for huge rise in unemployment [ANALYSIS]
The criteria for the fifth grant will be completely different.
Anyone whose turnover has fallen by 30 percent or more will continue to receive the full grant worth 80 percent of their average trading profits, which is capped at £7,500.
For those with turnover which has fallen by less than 30 percent, these individuals will receive a grant equivalent to 30 percent of their normal profits, capped at £2,850.
Any contractor or freelancer whose profits exceed £50,000 a year will be excluded from the scheme.
The majority of a claimant’s income must come from your freelance or contractual work to qualify.
Companies directors who pay themselves via dividends are also not eligible for help.
The Treasury said 2.7 million people had received help from SEISS.
However, critics claim the policy excludes up to three million people who do not qualify for the support.
One Twitter user wrote: “We stayed at home. We kept our distance. We protected the NHS. But the government did not protect 3 million self-employed workers. They have now endured an entire year without any financial support whatsoever. Do their lives not matter? #ExcludedUK #Budget2021”
Excluded UK is a campaign working to “bring about an end to the exclusions in the UK Government’s Covid-19 financial support measures”.
Following the Budget, the group said: “ExcludedUK welcomes the extension of SEISS with the inclusion of 2019/2020 tax returns in the calculator of trading profits, for which we have been campaigning vigorously over the last year.
“However, we know that at least three million taxpayers and households have been affected and even this further support does not account for this last year of decimated incomes and businesses for those who are now included, for whom this may be too little, too late.”
They added: “The majority of those who have been shut out of meaningful support thus far will continue to be excluded from the schemes and so many have been plunged into debt and poverty, often in the hardest-hit industries and supply chains.
“It is also vital to recognise that those individuals excluded from support are not just self-employed.
“They are also limited company directors, employees who were denied furlough for a variety of reasons, zero-hour contract workers and PAYE freelancers.”
Another social media user tweeted: “I can’t even begin to explain the anger I’m feeling right now. I’m so angry I’m shaking. Never have I felt so much anger and hatred toward one person Rishi Sunak. I’ve lost my wife, my kids, my house, my business, my savings. I’m done. #ForgottenLtd #ExcludedUK”
Money expert Martin Lewis tweeted: “Rishi “We will continue doing whatever it takes to support British people and businesses” – the phrase that sticks most in the claw of many #ExcludedUK #Budget2021”.