Coronavirus help for the self-employed

HMRC have just set up a help line specifically for the self-employed who will be struggling now. The coronavirus helpline: 0300 456 3565. They will give you advice on your tax and any benefits you can claim for.

Mortgage help

Cases of mortgage repayment holidays are being taken on a case-by-case basis, and the length of any suspension can vary between banks.

Other support for individuals facing financial difficulties owing to the virus includes:

          Refunds on credit card cash advance fees

          The option of applying for a temporarily increased credit card borrowing limit

          Asking for an increased cash withdrawal limit of up to £500

The measures are like those already in place for people facing financial difficulties.

UK Finance, which represents the major banks, said that all banks would consider increasing overdrafts or allowing repayment relief for loan or mortgage repayments for those affected by the virus.

“We would encourage customers who think they may be affected to contact their provider as soon as possible to discuss the support available to them.”

Offering to let personal customers put off paying the mortgage for three months is inherently un-commercial – the sort of thing that would seriously damage your credit record if you did it without agreement. Similarly offering to convert capital repayment loans into interest-only loans for up to a year will cost the banks money.

Because they are expensive, the measures raise practical questions – above all, how will the banks establish that customers are truly affected by the virus rather than other factors? A doctor’s letter? They haven’t answered that question yet. 

Sick pay and Benefits

If you’re not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, because you’re self-employed, you might be able to claim new style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you’re ill, or elements of Universal Credit if you need help with costs like children or housing.

You will no longer have to go to the Jobcentre Plus to claim Universal Credit if you’re advised to self-isolate.

Don’t delay making a claim for benefits, even if you think you might have been affected by coronavirus.

However, if you are already getting any of these benefits being replaced by Universal Credit:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Tax Credits
  • Income Support
  • Employment and Support Allowance

and need to make a claim for Universal Credit because of coronavirus, check with the Citizens Advice Help to Claim service as soon as possible to find out how they might be affected and to get advice about your situation.

If you think you’ve got coronavirus

If you have any of the symptoms of coronavirus, such as a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath, it is important you follow the NHS guidelines to protect yourself and prevent the spread of the virus.

If you’ve got coronavirus

If you have coronavirus you are entitled to your workplace’s usual sick leave and pay entitlements.

You would usually have to supply a sick note or fit note from a doctor to do this. But you will now be able to get a sick note by calling the NHS 111 phone line. 

If you’ve been told to self-isolate

If you have been to an affected area, been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus, or are waiting for coronavirus test results, you must self-isolate yourself for 14 days.

If you have a persistent cough, fever or flu-like symptoms you should self-isolate for seven days.

You will now be entitled to claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re self-isolating and will be able to get a sick note or fit note by calling NHS 111.

If you need to claim benefits like Universal Credit, you will no longer have to attend a jobcentre if you’ve been advised to self-isolate.

Self-employed

If you’re self-employed, a contractor, work on a freelance basis, in the gig economy or on a zero hours contract, your rights to sick pay and time off are much more limited. If you’re working in the gig economy, check with the company to find out what your rights are.

Unless it has been agreed as part of your contract, you will not be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, sick leave or paid holiday leave.

If coronavirus means you’re unable to work for any reason and you’ve paid enough National Insurance Contributions, you might be able to claim new style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you’re ill, or elements of Universal Credit if you need help with costs like children or housing.

If you can claim new style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), you’ll get paid from the first day, rather than after eight days.

If you’re self-employed and need to claim Universal Credit, the rules around the minimum income floor will be relaxed for the duration of the outbreak of coronavirus.

Don’t delay making a claim for benefits if you think you might have been affected by coronavirus.

But you should remember the application process for benefits will be longer than the 14-days recommended for self-isolation.

Further Information

Find out more about Universal Credit if you’re ill.
www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/universal-credit-for-disabled-people

Learn more about claiming Universal Credit if you’re self-employed.
www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/universal-credit-for-the-self-employed