HMRC have issued guidance on the way in which claims can be made for the grant available under the SEISS, the main means of support for the self-employed and partners in trading partnerships whose businesses have been affected by the Coronavirus crisis.

To recap, the maximum grant will generally be based on 80% of the average profit for the 3 years ended 5 April 2019, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. At the moment the grant will be paid for the three months ending 30 June 2020 and will be paid in a lump sum (maximum £7,500) which will have to be included in the business’ taxable profit. There are “wrinkles” in the rules to deal with unusual circumstances, and these can be found in the guidance here. Presumably because of the difficulties in checking compliance, it is not necessary for self-employed workers to cease activity (in contrast to furloughed workers under the Job Retention Scheme), but they will only have to confirm that their business has been negatively affected by the Coronavirus crisis.

You can now check whether HMRC consider that you are eligible for the grant. This can be done by accessing a web page here and entering your self-assessment reference (UTR) and national insurance number, whereupon you will be informed of HMRC’s opinion of your eligibility. We are unable to undertake this process in our capacity as your agent – this is a deliberate Government policy.

If you are informed that you do qualify, you will be advised of the date when you will be able to make a claim (the dates will start at 13 May), and to add your contact details in advance of that date. To enter those details (which will be used by HMRC to keep you informed of progress with the claim) it will be necessary to enter your Government Gateway login and password and move on to a screen to input your contact details. If you do not have a login/password, you will be given the opportunity to create them so that you can move on with the process. You will need the login/password again on or after your appointed day (13 May at the earliest), when you will be able to re-enter the Government Gateway and claim the grant, advising your bank account details for its receipt, which should happen within 6 days after the claim. It is not clear how much information will be provided on how HMRC have calculated the amount of the grant, but hopefully this will be sufficient to enable people to check it to their records and appeal if they do not agree with it.

However if you think that you are eligible for a grant but HMRC consider that you are not, you will be directed to a page where you will be able to ask HMRC to review your eligibility by means of email correspondence, whereby you will presumably be able to put your case based on the figures to hand. Please contact your usual contact at Plus if you meet this problem, or if you have any other queries on this process.

Author: Plus Accounting, Chartered Accountants

(Date: 12 May 2020)