GP locums and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) – update

We are seeing large numbers of locums who are struggling for work in the current climate and many may be able to claim under SEISS.

Potential claimants need to be able to confirm that their business has been affected by Covid 19; you can continue to work and claim the grant at the same time if you:

  • Have been self-employed in 2018-19 and continue to be self-employed or
  • Were a partner in 2018-19 and continue to be one and
  • Have submitted a tax return for 2018-19 to HMRC and
  • Have total income in 2018-19 (or average for 3 years to then) of less than
  • £50,000 and more than 50% of your income was from self employment

You cannot claim under this scheme if:

  • You did not start self-employment until after 5th April 2019 (so that will rule out those qualifying last summer)
  • You ceased self-employment before the Covid disruptions
  • Your income exceeded £50,000 – even if by £1.
  • You were mainly employed or had other income (earned or investment) - so you did not have more than 50% of your income from self employment

HMRC look at your eligibility based on 2018-19 first, and if you are not eligible based on that year, then they will look at that year plus the two prior years.

Note that you are still permitted to claim if you are here on a work visa provided you are eligible under the normal rules.

The reasons that your business has been affected by coronavirus include scaling down or temporarily stopping because you have fewer or no customers – so that will make most locums struggling to find work eligible if they meet the other criteria.

Whilst HMRC said originally that payments would be made automatically you will now need to make a claim. HMRC will be writing to people who they think are eligible, but you can use their on-line checker to confirm your situation and this will give you a specific date from which you can make a claim. Note that your agent/accountant cannot make the claim itself on your behalf.

To use the checker (this part your accountant can do for you if you want) – you need your UTR (the 10-digit reference number on your tax return) and your National Insurance number – make sure you have them to hand before you start.

When making your claim (this is separate from using the checker – this is the bit the accountant cannot do for you) you will need your Government Gateway credentials (user ID and password) and your bank account and contact details.

If you have not already set up your Government Gateway account you can do that while using the SEISS eligibility checker.

HMRC say that they have set the system up so it is simple to use, so hopefully you will not have any problems. It is going to be difficult to get through to HMRC helplines – but they are hoping you won’t need to.

There will be occasions when you feel you are entitled to a claim but HMRC system says no, your accountant will be able to work through this with you to check it or explain it – but expect to pay a fee for their time.

If you are successful with a claim, remember that it is taxable and NIC’ble income – so it will need to go on your next tax return and it will need to be taken into account in calculating payments on account due in January and July next year.

Once the claim has been approved, you should receive your payment within 6 working days.

Be careful with people trying to get hold of your personal information by texting, calling or emailing you and encouraging you to click on links or provide personal information. Report these to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk

You should ONLY provide personal information when you log directly into your Government Gateway yourself.

Honey Barrett are happy to help unsupported locums who need assistance at this difficult time. Please contact us to discuss it further.

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