Updated: Aug 23
Millions of self-employed workers ranging from taxi drivers to musicians have been claiming their second, and final, government grant to help them through the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis.
Over 2.7 million benefited from the first stage of the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) - with £7.8 billion of grants handed out to help sole traders.
Those eligible will now be able to receive a second and final grant worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits, with the money set to land in their bank accounts within six working days of making a claim.
Anyone whose self-employed business has been adversely affected by coronavirus since 14 July is eligible for the scheme.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said: “Our self employment income support scheme has already helped millions of hard working people, whose get up and go drive is crucial to our economy.
“It means that people’s livelihoods across the country will remain protected as we continue our economic recovery - helping them get back on their feet as we return to normal.”
HMRC has been contacting all potentially eligible customers to advise them that they can claim for a second and final SEISS grant.
The eligibility criteria remains the same as for the first grant, with people needing to have had trading profits of no more than £50,000, making up at least half of their total income.
Eligible customers will be informed by HMRC that they will be able to make their claim for the second and final grant at any time from a specified date, until the scheme closes on 19 October 2020.
The SEISS has been part of a comprehensive package of support for self-employed people, including Bounce Back loans, income tax deferrals, rental support, increased levels of Universal Credit, mortgage holidays and various business support schemes the Government has introduced to protect businesses during this time.
However, with work levels in some industries remaining low, like that of the taxi trade, there are already fresh calls for further support.
Over 100 signatories have already sent a joint letter to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling for government to extend support until Spring 2021 for freelancers in the performing arts and entertainment industries.
Naomi Pohl, MU (Music Union) Deputy General Secretary, said: “Our members need to know that there will be support after October, not just for those who are eligible for the SEISS now but also those who fall through the gaps.”
Pohl added: “We are calling for both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self Employment Income Support Scheme to be extended into early 2021 for those workers who cannot make a living while social distancing guidelines remain in place.
“We have been making these arguments to the Government since March and are increasingly concerned for the welfare of our members. If we don't get further help for them soon, we will see a mass talent exodus from music - and the arts in general."
TaxiPoint recently conducted a survey on social media, asking whether taxi drivers think they will need further government financial support to run their business after the second and final SEISS payment lands. Of the 412 taxi drivers who took part in the poll, 95% responded stating they will need further help.