“Direction of travel” points towards an improved self-employed grant hints Chancellor

Image credit: HM Treasury (Flickr CC2.0)

The Chancellor provided fresh hope that an improved bailout for self-employed workers was on the horizon just days before England goes into a second national COVID-19 lockdown.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the Chancellor said the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, will provide more details later today, but the ‘direction of travel’ was to improve on the 40 percent grant based on average profits currently offered to taxi drivers and other self-employed workers.

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, was directly quizzed on whether self-employed support would rise to around the 80 percent of average profits mark as offered at the start of the pandemic.

Sunak indicated that there might be an increase, but not to the same levels experienced by employees on the furlough scheme as the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grants cover a longer period.

Sunak said: “Directionally of travel, the 40 percent will go up to reflect the fact that at least one of those months of support will be at a higher level for those who are in employment.”

As it stands, self-employed workers will be able to apply for their third coronavirus support grant before the start of the Christmas period.

Taxi drivers and other self-employed workers effected by the coronavirus pandemic last received government support back in August as part of their second SEISS payment application.

Those eligible for the next grant can apply online from 14 December. HMRC will provide full details about the claiming process and applications in due course.

Last month the Government announced an increase in the size of grant self-employed workers can claim. The claim has now risen from 20 percent of average profits to 40 percent, meaning the maximum grant will increase from £1,875 to £3,750 respectively. It will be available to anyone who was previously eligible for the SEISS grant one and grant two, and meets the eligibility criteria.

This grant will cover a three-month period from the start of November 2020 until the end of January 2021. As it currently stands, the Government will pay a taxable grant which is calculated based on 40% of three months’ average trading profits, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £3,750.

A second extended grant will cover a three-month period from the start of February until the end of April 2021. The Government will review the level of the second grant and set this in due course.

The Prime Minister is set to address MPs at around 3.30pm today, detailing his plans for a new four-week lockdown across England which starts on Thursday.