What is the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)?

Last updated: 16 Mar 2021

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) was announced in March 2020 to support the self-employed whose income has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Three grants have been paid out so far, and in his budget speech on 3 March 2021, the Chancellor confirmed there would be two further SEISS grants. Unlike the previous grants, the new grants will be open to those who became self-employed in the 2019/20 tax year.

To be eligible for the fourth grant, you must have filed a tax return for the 2019/20 financial year by 2 March 2021 as self-employed or a member of a partnership. Additionally, your annual trading profits must be less than £50,000, and you must derive at least 50% of your income from self-employment. The determination of your trading profits will be with reference either to your profits in the 2019/20 year, or your average profits in the three years up to 2019/20. You must also certify that your business has been negatively impacted by coronavirus, and you must either be currently trading or have temporarily ceased trading due to coronavirus.

Note that people working through personal service companies (PSCs) will not be eligible for support through this scheme, though if you work through a PSC and you pay yourself partly through PAYE you may be able to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

HMRC will determine your eligibility for the fourth SEISS grant based on your tax returns and contact you in mid-April 2021 to let you know if you can apply.

The fourth grant will pay 80% of three months’ average profits, up to a maximum total grant of £7,500. The grant will be paid as a single lump sum payment. Note that you don’t have to have claimed previous grants in order to claim the fourth.

The grant is taxable, but doesn’t have to be repaid. You can continue to trade and/or take on other employment while receiving the grant.

The fifth and final SEISS grant will cover May to September 2021. Applications for this grant will open in July, and eligibility will be based on your turnover in the 2020/21 tax year. The fifth grant will be worth 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £7,500, for those with a turnover reduction of 30% or more, and 30% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £2,850, for those with a turnover reduction of less than 30%. Further details about the fifth grant are due to be published at a later date.

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