As part of the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK Government announced in the budget that there would be grants to support small businesses and self-employed individuals who had suffered loss of earnings because of the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns. This article will look at the self-employed grants available and how to apply by covering the following points:

  • What self-employed grants are there?
  • Are you eligible for a self-employed grant?
  • How to gather evidence for the grant
  • How to apply and claim the self-employed grant

What self-employed grants are there?

As of 2021, there have been four variations of the self-employed grant, the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). Each version has covered a period of a few months, and if your businesses suffered during these months, you can claim for each period. All previous schemes are now closed for applications, but a fifth version of the scheme will be available and open for applications in July 2021. 

The SEISS is available to all countries in the UK, but the Scottish, Irish and Welsh governments manage their own business legislation, and have released their own grants for businesses who have suffered. So if you operate in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, use the links to find out if there is further support available.

Are you eligible for a self-employed grant?

The eligibility criteria has changed slightly with every new version of the grant, so always check the government guidelines to check you are able to apply for the current SEISS scheme. 

With the previous versions of the SEISS scheme, the government specified that your business must have been ‘unable to trade’ or have had ‘reduced demand’ due to the Coronavirus outbreak. And your periods of ‘reduced demand’ must have been within the time frame that the scheme is open for. The most recent time window was for the fourth SEISS and was from February to April 2021 inclusive.

Secondly, the government states that you “must decide if the impact on your business will cause a significant reduction in your trading profits for the tax year you report them in”

So for example, to have applied for SEISS 4 (closed as of 1st June) you needed evidence that you were unable to trade, or did significantly less business, between February and April. You must also be able to show that because of this reduction or loss of business, your profits are lower than they otherwise would have been for the year. 

The eligibility criteria will be roughly the same as above for SEISS 5, except the time period will most likely cover May until September. 

So how do you prove your business has experienced reduced demand? 

How to apply and claim the self-employed grant

Claims will be open again for SEISS 5 in July of this year, which will cover the period of May to September 2021.

You must apply for the grant yourself and not through an agent or accountant as the guidelines specifically state that the taxpayer themselves should make the claim. Always consult an accountant if you need support on gathering information on your business’ finances for your evidence, if you aren’t sure how. 

Claims must be made through the online claims site and there is an SEISS phone number you can use if you are unable to apply online for any reason.

Before you apply, ensure you have the following information to hand:

  • Your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) which you use for your self-assessment
  • National Insurance Number
  • Government Gateway login
  • The sort code and account number of your bank account

You will then be guided through the online application, where you can provide your evidence. The claim is then reviewed and paid to you within six working days.

How to gather evidence for the grant

Here are some examples of the evidence you can provide to show that your business has suffered from reduced demand because of COVID-19 and the lockdown rules:

  • Business current account statements, showing less activity than previous months or years.
  • Sales ledger or transaction records from your sales, showing less than usual.
  • A diary record, showing reduced or cancelled appointments.
  • Cancellations of contracts.
  • Fewer invoices from the period, compared to the previous months or years.
  • Proof of your supply chain being interrupted.

If your business had to close completely due to the Coronavirus restrictions, you should gather evidence to prove your inability to trade, such as:

  • A record of dates you had to close your premises because of government restrictions.
  • NHS Track and Trace emails or texts. If you have been forced to shield or isolate due to NHS guidelines and had to close your business as a result, being unable to work from home.
  • An NHS letter advising you to shield due to previous health issues.
  • Your positive diagnosis results if you have been ill with COVID-19.
  • If you have caring responsibilities, you may also use letters or communications from schools or the council for any children or wards that you have had to care for during the lockdown.
  • Any letters or emails that show you have had to cease trading to protect you or your family and adhere to government guidelines.

How Countingup makes self-employment simpler

Now that you know how to apply for a government self-employed grant, make sure to keep on top of your financial admin. Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software

The two-in-one app is saving thousands of self-employed people across the UK hours of admin each week, by automating the time-consuming aspects of bookkeeping, invoicing and more. With organised and structured finances, you can spend less time on your admin and focus on running your business. Find out more here.