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What help is available for small businesses, gig workers, and the self-employed affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)?

What help is available for small businesses, gig workers, and the self-employed affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)?, image of a globe with a mask | Crunch

Table of contents

    We keep this article to date with the latest updates on government support or issues that affect the self-employed as a result of the Coronavirus crisis.

    For more detailed information on the support schemes available over the course of the COVID pandemic, please see our dedicated articles:

    COVID support webinar

    Not sure what COVID-19 support is still available for small businesses and the self-employed? Fear not – Crunch’s Jake Smith and Michael Awuye explain it all in this jargon-free webinar. The PDF slides are available here.

    HMRC advice about scams

    With the wide range of support available from the government, HMRC is asking everyone to be vigilant about potential scams. HMRC is aware many scams can appear to be authentic.

    If you’re unsure whether any contact you receive from HMRC is genuine, please go to the government’s website GOV.UK and search ‘scams’. You’ll find information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact. You can also forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to and texts to 60599.

    Summary of government support available

    You can use the government’s online coronavirus business support finder tool to find all the support available to your business. We’ve also produced the table below to summarise the support available.

    Measure Targeted at: How to apply Status
    Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Employers. Also covers PAYE earnings of limited company directors including sole directors of personal service companies, agency workers and agency workers working through an umbrella company. Self-serve through HMRC online - see our CJRS guide for employers for details of how to prepare and submit your application. Online service available from 20th April 2020 - due to close 30th April 2021.
    Self-employment Income Support Scheme Self-employed (sole traders or partnerships only - not directors of limited companies) We have a Crunch guide to the SEISS explaining how it works and what you need to make a claim. You're able to check your eligibility and make a claim online at Online service launched 13th May 2020
    Deferral of Self Assessment payment on account due on 31st July to 31st January 2021 Anyone with a self-assessment payment on account due on 31st July 2020 Applies automatically Live
    VAT deferral until 30th June All UK businesses who are VAT registered Deferral applies between 20th March and 30th June - applies automatically Closed
    Additional time to pay your tax bills All UK businesses Contact HMRC Live
    Suspension of wrongful trading rules to help companies trade All UK businesses Applies automatically Closed
    Small Business Grant Scheme £10,000 one-off grant Small businesses paying little or no business rates in England No application needed - eligible businesses to be contacted by their local authorities Closed
    Statutory Sick Pay Rebate UK small or medium-sized businesses employing fewer than 250 employees as of 28th February 2020. Check eligibility and apply online at Live - Scheme launched 26th May
    Lending facility for larger firms Large UK businesses Apply via company banks Live
    Business Interruption Loan Scheme UK businesses with turnover less than £45 million per year Apply via company bank or one of the 40 accredited finance providers Live
    Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan Scheme This scheme will help small and medium-sized businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to apply for loans of up to £50,000. We have a Crunch guide to the Bounce Back Loan Scheme explaining how it works and what you need to apply. Live
    Support for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses that pay business rates Businesses based in England in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector Applies automatically for the 2020/21 tax year Live
    Cash Grant for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Property that has a rateable value of: - up to £15,000 may be eligible for a grant of £10,000 - over £15,000 and less than £51,000 may be eligible for a grant of £25,000. No application needed - eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector to be contacted by their local authorities Live
    Support for nursery businesses that pay business rates Business rates holiday for nurseries in England for the 2020/21 tax year. No application needed - eligible nursery businesses to be contacted by their local authorities Live
    Support for businesses in Scotland Measures specific to Scottish businesses Various in additional to UK wide measures Live
    Support for businesses in Wales Measures specific to Welsh businesses Various in additional to UK wide measures Live
    Support for businesses in Northern Ireland Measures specific to Northern Irish businesses Various in additional to UK wide measures Live
    Three month extension period to file accounts with Companies House All UK companies Online - must apply before company statutory filing deadline for accounts Live

    3rd March 2021 extension of government support schemes

    Furlough scheme extended to the end of September 2021

    In advance of the budget, the Chancellor announced the extension of the furlough scheme (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or ‘CJRS’) until the end of September 2021. Workers will continue to receive 80% of their current salary for hours they don’t work because they’ve been furloughed.

    The support will be provided by a grant to their employers. Employers will need to make a contribution of 10% of the worker’s salary for unworked hours in July, and a 20% contribution in August and September. The £2,500 monthly limit for the grant remains in place.

    Check our CJRS article about claiming furlough relief for more information.

    New measures to help the newly self-employed though the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) and existing scheme extended to a fourth and fifth round

    The scope of the SEISS grant has been extended and the fourth grant under the scheme will now be available to individuals who began self-employment in the 2019/20 tax year, as well as those who have previously claimed.

    Individuals who continue to be eligible will be able to claim the fourth round of SEISS at 80% of average trading profits capped at £7,500 for three months. The fourth grant will be available in April. There will be a fifth grant to cover May, June, and July, likely to be available over the summer. If your turnover has fallen by 30% or more, you’ll receive the full 80% grant. If turnover has fallen by less than 30%, then the grant is reduced to 30%.

    Check our article about claiming under the SEISS for more information.

    To be eligible for the fourth grant, and for new entrants to the scheme, you must have filed a  Self Assessment tax return for the 2019/20 tax year by midnight on 2nd March 2021. All other eligibility criteria will remain the same as the third grant. Further details will be published in due course.

    Previous grants (applications for the third instalment closed on 29th January 2021) have involved a taxable grant worth 80% of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total.

    27th January 2021 – Northern Irish Minister for the Economy announces Limited Company Director’s Support Scheme

    A Limited Company Director’s Support Scheme (LCDSS) has been introduced to support company directors in Northern Ireland who have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 . The scheme is not available anywhere else in the UK. The scheme opened on Thursday 21st January 2021 and will be closing on Thursday 18th February 2021 at 6pm, paying an initial one-off taxable grant of £3,500 to company directors in Northern Ireland that meet the eligibility criteria. If you hold more than one directorship, you can only make one application.

    You will not be eligible for the LCDSSscheme if you are already eligible for the Northern Ireland Newly Self-Employed Support Scheme (NSESS). Full details on eligibility for the LCDSS scheme, including a link to apply, are available on the NIBusinessInfo website.

    The LCDSS scheme is only open to limited company directors who are resident in Northern Ireland and the company/companies are based and operating from Northern Ireland.

    5th January 2021 – New lockdown grants for many businesses announced

    The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced new lockdown grants for many businesses. The details are available on, Highlights are:

    • Chancellor announces one-off top up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property to help businesses through to the Spring
    • £594 million discretionary fund also made available to support other impacted businesses
    • comes in addition to £1.1 billion further discretionary grant funding for Local Authorities, Local Restriction Support Grants worth up to £3,000 a month and extension of furlough scheme

    This follows the Prime Minister’s announcement on 4th January 2021 that these businesses will be closed until at least February half-term in order to help control the virus, and, together with the wide range of existing support, provides them with certainty through the Spring period.

    The cash is provided on a per-property basis to support businesses through the latest restrictions, and is expected to benefit over 600,000 business properties, worth £4 billion in total across all nations of the UK.

    Follow us on Twitter for all the latest news on COVID support schemes.

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