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Money Talk: Are you unsure of SEISS 4th grant eligibility? Experts answer your questions

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SEISS was launched by Rishi Sunak to support self-employed workers struggling with coronavirus, but the scheme has been beset with eligibility problems since it was announced in early 2020. Recently, James, a self-employed worker based in Deal, Kent, wrote to Express Money for help with his application.

“Our concern was around the complexity of the pre-verification process, coupled with the very tight deadlines involved where there seemed to be a strong likelihood that some individuals would inadvertently disqualify themselves from being able to submit a grant application by missing deadlines or not understanding what’s required.

“‘On top of that there’s also a fear that many traders will see HMRC’s request for their details as yet another sophisticated attempt to obtain sensitive personal information at a time when attacks from scammers are widespread.

“So, with this new system in place there was always going to be a number of potential glitches but, to be fair, HMRC appear to be addressing these concerns.

“Having spoken to HMRC on this specific problem they say that if your reader contacts HMRC via their online web chat an adviser should be able to help them chase up the email. HMRC appear to have resourced this area well and were confident that someone would get back to James pretty quickly.”

Additionally, Rebecca detailed James should check that HMRC have his correct email address to begin with.

On April 9, HMRC released details on the next set of grants, confirming the online service to claim fourth grants will be available from late April 2021.

Claims must be made by June 1, leaving James and other self-employed workers with over a month to sort any application issues.

However, Dr Sonali Joshi, the Founder and Director of ExcludedUK, warned recently the following newly self-employed issues still need to be addressed: “we welcome inclusion of the newly self-employed in the Self Employment Income Support Scheme announced in the Budget, and along with many other voices, had been campaigning for this throughout, and given the time that has elapsed, it would have been absurd if they hadn’t been included. But we dispute the figure of 600,000 more self-employed individuals now being able to access the scheme, as per the figure quoted by the Chancellor.

“According to ONS data for 2019, 151,000 individuals became newly self-employed between April and December 2019. Therefore scaling that up gives an estimate of 200,000 over the course of the year, and that is the figure we have used with consistently with regards to the newly self-employed

“However, with the overlap of the requirement for a minimum of 50% trading profits, the two criteria combined effectively meant that the newly self-employed as of October 2018 would not have been able to access SEISS.

“The reason for this is that many who start out in self-employment do so gradually in order to maintain some security through a mix of PAYE employment or other income so at most, there could be upto 300,000 who may now able to access the Self Employment Income Support Scheme, although it’s unlikely to be this many that said, when starting out in self-employment one would typically have high overheads in the early stages of setting up in business therefore, not many of the newly self-employed now included will necessarily be able to access meaningful support.

“Moreover, as is the case for all those excluded from meaningful support through the various gaps in the schemes, these individuals have faced a year of decimated incomes and immense financial hardship and the impacts that have come with that, and therefore for many it is too little too late, so there are still far too many people who continue to be left out of the schemes.”

Disclaimer

By necessity, this briefing can only provide a short overview and it is essential to seek professional advice before applying the contents of this article. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication. Details correct at time of publication.

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