Under UK government guidelines, tradespeople were allowed to continue to provide critical and essential services throughout lockdown and in England, since lockdown was eased, have been actively encouraged to go back to work as businesses open and sites begin work again. However, with many members of the public still wary of non-essential work or contact, it is likely that it will not be business as usual and people may be struggling financially.
In order to combat the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic on individuals and businesses, the chancellor introduced a range of government assistance packages such as furlough, self-employment grants and business loans. Whilst for many tradespeople, the most important of these will be the self-employment grant; this article is going to briefly look at all the financial assistance available to individuals from the government.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
In a move to avoid many people being made redundant as a response to the pandemic, the UK government introduced a job retention scheme which would allow employers to place employees on temporary leave, or furlough, and have the government pay 80% of their wages. This initiative is to help businesses who cannot maintain their current workforce due to the impact of Covid-19. The grant covers 80% of an individual’s usual monthly wage, up to £2,500 a month with the current details of the furlough scheme in place until July. If you are employed by a company that has been affected by the pandemic, you may have been placed on furlough; there is nothing you need to do in this instance; it is the responsibility of your employer to claim your wages through the scheme. If you are an employer and wish to place employees on furlough; the government website has full details of how to claim, who can be put on furlough and calculating wages. Workers can be put on furlough at any time throughout the period in which it runs.
Financial Support for the Self-Employed
For many tradespeople, they will be self-employed. This presents a worry for those who are getting less or no work during this time as they will be losing out on usual income. To help those are self-employed the government announce the ‘Self-employment Income Support Scheme’. The scheme is designed to allow those who are self-employed to claim a grant. It is aimed at those who have been impacted by the pandemic; whether that means reduced or no work. The scheme allows people to claim a taxable grant of 80% of their monthly trading profits. This is paid out in one single instalment but covers 3 months and is capped at a total of £7,500. It is temporary currently but may be extended. Those who receive a grant can still continue to work and it does not need to be repaid. You can check if you are eligible on the Gov.uk site.
If you are not eligible for the support grant, there are some other options available for financial support. You can claim for universal credit whilst you wait for the grant or if you are not eligible. The government is also allowing those who are self-employed to defer their self-assessment income tax and VAT payments.