Claims for second SEISS grant already top two million

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UK Tax Return

More than two million people have already applied for the government’s second self-employed coronavirus grant, according to recent official figures.

In May, chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak announced that the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) would be extended, with those eligible able to claim a second and final grant capped at £6,750.  Applications for the second grant opened on August 17, with HM Revenue & Customs receiving 2 million applications between the opening date and the end of August from a total potentially eligible population of 3.4 million.

The 2 million claims for the second SEISS grant will cost the exchequer £5.1 billion, with these numbers expected to rise before the closing date for applications on October 19.  The average award per claimant is currently £2,500.

September’s figures compare to statistics published last month relating to the first grant, which was claimed by a total of 2.6 million between May and July, with the value of claims totalling £7.6 billion and an average claim payout of £2,900.

5 million individuals reported self-employment income for the tax year 2018-19 and had their data assessed for potential SEISS eligibility.  In order to be assessed, a self-employed individual needed to have traded in the tax year 2018-19 and submitted a self-assessment tax return on or before April 23, 2020 for that year.

Via this process, 3.4 million self-employed individuals were identified as potentially eligible for the SEISS scheme.  This means that they met the criteria for the scheme based on self-assessment returns from the tax year 2018-19 and earlier years.  To be eligible for the SEISS scheme, an individual needs to have had profits of £50,000 or less over the past three years, to have not made a loss and for their trading profits to be at least equal to any non-trading income that they may have received.

However, a business also needs to be adversely affected by coronavirus to be eligible, and not all of the 3.4 million businesses will have been.  Some may also have ceased trading since the 2018-19 financial year, which would make them ineligible for support.

Of the 2 million individuals who have already submitted a claim for the second SEISS grant, around 90 per cent of claimants are aged between 25 and 64 and take-up of the grant in those age groups is at or above 56 per cent.  No one age group dominates and claims are evenly spread.

The sector with the highest number of potentially eligible individuals and the highest proportion of claims is the construction industry.  By August 31, construction workers had made 693,000 claims for SEISS totalling £2.1 billion.

The two regions with the highest number of claims are London (390,000) and the South East of England (292,000), reflecting their relative sizes.

With the number of total applications received for the second SEISS grant currently 600,000 less than for the first, any self-employed individuals who may be eligible are being urged to make their claims before the closing date in four weeks’ time.  A claim for the second SEISS grant will not be made automatically by virtue of a first claim having been made.

Information on how to claim for the second SEISS grant can be found here.

22nd September 2020.