The Outer Hebrides Chamber of Commerce is concerned that self-employed people across the Islands are not acting fast enough to make the best of Government assistance available during the Coronavirus Emergency.

Accountant John Moffat, who chairs the Chamber, wants self-employed people – who make up a larger proportion of the Islands economy than anywhere else in Scotland – to pay closer attention to the Self Employment Income Support scheme.

He says: "I am concerned that not everyone who is self employed will be signed up with HMRC online which will allow them to apply for their self-employed support from HMRC, when the portal opens next week."

Mr Moffat - who is a director at Mann Judd Gordon chartered accountants in Stornoway - says: "Tax agents cannot apply apply on behalf of their clients, as we could for payroll clients. All self employed people should take steps now to register for a personal tax account with HMRC - as this should allow them to go on and make a claim when it is available."  The scheme portal opens on Wednesday May 13.

The scheme will allow qualifying businesses to claim a taxable grant of 80% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months, and capped at £7,500 altogether. This is a temporary scheme, but it may be extended, HMRC says.

"If you receive the grant you can continue to work, start a new trade or take on other employment including voluntary work, or duties as an armed forces reservist. The grant will be subject to Income Tax and self-employed National Insurance."

If they follow this link and check their eligibility for the self employed support scheme they can set up their online login with HMRC as part of the process..

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme#claim.

A week ago (on Thursday April 30) additional business support was announced  by the Scottish Government.

This fund, to be administered by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, is open to the recently self-employed who started trading between 5 April 2019 and 31 March 2020, who are excluded from the other forms of business support relating to COVID-19 disruption and are currently suffering hardship.

Grants of up to £2,000 are potentially available through the scheme, which will remain open while limited funds permit.

Full details on making an application are available on the Comhairle Business Resilience website at https://www.cne-siar.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/coronavirus/business-resilience/

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