The Chancellor’s Budget announcement on March 3 is expected to outline how the Government will support businesses and the economy during the next stage of the coronavirus lockdown. While Covid cases are plummeting and widespread vaccine rollout is underway, the next stage of lockdown still appears very uncertain for businesses. Rishi Sunak has faced significant pressure to extend support schemes, such as the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), given the earliest point all lockdown restrictions could be eased is June 21 and SEISS was originally scheduled to end in April.
Ahead of his long-awaited Budget announcement, it was confirmed on Tuesday this week the SEISS scheme will be extended.
The scheme was already expected to offer a fourth SEISS grant for February to April 2021, but the Treasury has now announced there will be a fifth SEISS grant later on in the year.
Ahead of the Budget on Wednesday, Rishi Sunak said: “Our Covid support schemes have been a lifeline to millions, protecting jobs and incomes across the UK.
“There’s now light at the end of the tunnel with a roadmap for reopening, so it’s only right that we continue to help business and individuals through the challenging months ahead – and beyond.”
READ MORE: SEISS grant 4 extension – 600,000 self-employed to become eligible
The previous three SEISS grants have been subject to strict eligibility criteria, meaning directors of companies, the newly self-employed and people who earn more than £50,000 in profits have not been eligible for any of the support.
Amanda Lennon, employment lawyer with Spencer West LLP, told Express.co.uk: “It’s great news that the SEISS is being extended to cover the many thousands who’ve missed out on previous grants.
“I fear in some cases it’s too late though because the ‘Excluded UK’ as they’re known haven’t been able to receive the grant for nearly a year now.
“It’s a shame the Government didn’t act on the calls for support for this group of self-employed when the first grant was issued.
“It will be interesting to see what impact the extended grants make on the self-employed who weren’t previously eligible and have had to find other ways to generate income where they’ve been impacted by Covid.
“I can’t help feeling the new package of measures is an afterthought for this population and has only been introduced due to the mounting pressure on the Government to do something.
“Furthermore, IR35 – which at the moment looks to be moving forward as planned from April – will serve to eliminate any of the gains these grants provide by increasing the tax burden of an already-suffering group.
“It essentially equates to ‘what the government giveth, the government taketh away.’”
The full eligibility criteria for SEISS grant four is expected to be published following the Chancellor’s announcement.
When can I apply for the fourth SEISS grant?
Further details on how to apply for SEISS grant four are expected to be announced by the Chancellor during the Budget on March 3.
Express.co.uk will update this page following the Chancellor’s announcement.
However, it is thought applications for the scheme’s fourth grant will open from April 2021.
When will the fourth SEISS grant be paid?
Again, the Treasury has not confirmed an exact date for the SEISS scheme to open for grant four, so it is not known exactly when payments will be made.
However, based on the previous three grants, claimants could expect to get their payments shortly after their claim is accepted.
HMRC has previously aimed to pay out successful SEISS claims within six working days.
If accepted, claimants can expect to see their total grant for the three-month period paid out in one lump sum instalment.