What is the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)?

Definition of Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is a temporary initiative that aims to provide financial support to self-employed people whose businesses are affected by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

How the scheme works

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) was announced in March 2020 by Chancellor Rishi Sunak. It was initially extended on 24th September 2020 and then extended again on 5th November 2020 and 3rd March 2021. Only sole traders and partners are eligible for the scheme.

The SEISS initially enabled businesses that were affected by the coronavirus crisis between March and October 2020 to claim two taxable grants. Extensions to the scheme have now made three additional taxable grant payments available for businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis between November 2020 and September 2021. The application window for the fourth grant closed on 31st May 2021 but qualifying business owners who filed their 2019/20 Self Assessment tax return by midnight on Tuesday 2nd March 2021 will be able to claim for the fifth SEISS grant.

The fifth grant will cover May to September 2021. Business owners whose turnover fell by 30% or more between April 2020 and April 2021 will receive 80% of three months’ worth of their usual average trading profits, capped at £7,500 in total. Business owners whose turnover fell by less than 30% during the same period will receive 30% of three months’ worth of their usual average trading profits, capped at £2,850 in total.

A summary of the five grants offered through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme can be found in the table below:

SEISS grant For businesses affected by Covid-19 during: Grant application window % of trading profits covered Maximum grant available
Grant 1 1st March - 13th July 2020 13th May - 13th July 2020 80% £7,500
Grant 2 14th July - 19th October 2020 17th August - 19th October 2020 70% £6,570
Grant 3 1st November 2020 - 29th January 2021 30th November 2020 - 29th January 2021 80% £7,500
Grant 4 1st February - 30th April 2021 Late April - 1st June 2021 80% £7,500
Grant 5 May to September 2021 Opens late July 2021 30% or 80% £2,850 or £7,500

How to apply

Self-employed business owners who meet HMRC's qualification criteria can apply for the fifth grant from late July 2021.

In order to be eligible, you must be either a sole trader or a partner in a partnership. In addition, you must have traded during the 2020/21 and 2019/20 tax years and submitted your Self Assessment tax return for 2019/20 by 2nd March 2021. 

You must also either:

  • be currently trading but experiencing reduced demand due to coronavirus
  • be temporarily unable to trade due to coronavirus

In order to apply for a grant, you must declare that you intend to continue to trade and have a 'reasonable belief' that there will be a 'significant reduction' in your trading profits for the period covered by the grant.

HMRC has stated that further guidance for claiming the fifth grant will be available by the end of June 2021.

You can find out more about the support available for small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic on our small business coronavirus support hub.

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