Your personalised action plan

Thanks for answering those questions. Here are your personalised recommendations for the help you could get.

1. Get a grant to pay yourself: from the government’s Self-employment Income Support (SIS) scheme

If you are a sole trader, or a partner in a partnership, then you may be able to get a grant from the government for 80% of your monthly profits (up to £2,500/month). You can also continue to work. Unfortunately, if you run your business through a limited company, you can’t get this grant.

How much is the grant?

If you’re self-employed, you can get 80% of your average monthly profits (calculated over the last 3 years) for 3 months, up to £2,500 a month.

It’s a grant, not a loan, so you don’t have to pay it back. It’s designed to tide you over financially so you can get your business back on track when the crisis is over.

Who’s eligble for SIS?

You need to have made less than £50k in profits either last tax year (2018/19) or on average over the last 3 tax years (since 2016/17). So if you just happened to have a bumper year last year, you could still get it if your profits were a lot lower in the previous two years. 

ALSO these profits must be more than 50% of your total personal income (so if this is your side hustle and your main job salary pays for more than 50% of your total income, you won’t get this grant).

If you’ve only started your business in the last year (after 5 April 2019), then we’re sorry, but you can’t get this grant. AND if you made a loss (no profits) then you can’t get anything.

Traded in the last year and still planning to continue your business?

You must have traded in the last year (6 April 2019 to 5 April 2020), so if you closed your business before then or didn’t do any work in this past year, you won’t be eligible. Also, if you’ve permanently closed your business recently because of coronavirus, you probably won’t qualify.

How is it calculated?

HMRC will look back at your last 3 tax years’ profits (2016/7, 2017/18 and 2018/19). Add up your total profits (your revenue minus expenses) then divide by 3 to get your average monthly profit. Then you’ll get 80% of that, up to the max. £2,500.

If you only traded for 2018/19, then it will be calculated just on that year’s profits. If you traded for 2 years (2018/19 and 2017/18) then they’ll add up the 2 years’ total profits and divide by 2.

If you only traded for part of a year, your profits will be calculated just on the amount you actually made. No multiplying up to make a full year. So if you just did 6 months in 2018/19, they won’t double that to get a full 12 months’ profits. It will just be calculated on that 6 months.

How quickly can I get it?

It will be paid in one lump sum and probably not until June! So if you’re struggling for money now, apply for Universal Credit or other benefits while you wait.

How do I get it?

You have to wait. HMRC will get in touch with you if you’re eligible and will tell you how to apply. If you’re not sure if you’re eligible, you can call HMRC’s coronavirus business helpline ( 0800 024 1222, 8am – 4pm Mon to Fri ), but expect to wait a long time to get through.

Is it taxable?

Yes, so you’ll need to declare it on your tax returns by January 2022 (worry about that nearer the time).

2. Get cashflow: apply for a government-backed business loan

If you need cashflow, then a Business Interruption Loan could help you. It’s open to any business (limited company, sole trader, partnership) that has a business bank account.

There are 2 main types for SMEs: Bounce Back loans aimed at smaller businesses, borrowing up to £50,000. And Coronavirus Business Interruption loans (CBILs) aimed at bigger businesses borrowing up to £5 million.

Bounce Back loans are quicker to get, so if you just need a smaller amount, that’s the route we’d recommend.

How much can I borrow?


Up to £5 million in a loan, overdraft, asset finance or invoice finance. It doesn’t have to be a loan. You could just extend your overdraft to give you more of a buffer for the next few months.

Bounce Back

Up to 25% of your business turnover (maximim £50,000). The lowest amount you can borrow is £2,000.

Is my business eligble?

Your business must be UK-based with a maximum annual turnover of £45 million. The business must be viable. In other words, you’re only having financial problems because of coronavirus. Sadly, that means if you’re a startup that doesn’t have any revenue, or your business makes a loss, or your business was struggling before coronavirus, you’re unlikely to get a loan.

Your business has to be based in the UK and have started before 1 March 2020.
You can’t apply if you’re already claiming under CBILs.

What are the finance terms?

You could get up to 6 years to repay the loan (3 years for overdrafts and invoice finance). You shouldn’t have to pay interest or fees to the lender for the first 12 months (the government pays those).

Tip: Ideally look for the lenders who are not charging arrangement fees or early repayment charges. That way, once business picks back up, you can repay quickly so you’re not tied in to paying interest rates longer than necessary.

You get 6 years to repay it and no interest or repayments for the first 12 months.

You can repay it quicker.

After 12 months, the interest rate is 2.5%.

Do I need to give a personal guarantee/ security?

No if you’re borrowing £250,000 or less from one of the Big Four banks (HSBC, Barclays, RBS/Natwest, Lloyds). Otherwise, it’s up to the lender.

No personal guarantees. But be aware if you’re a sole trader or in a partnership, whilst they cannot take your house or personal vehicle, the bank could recover against other personal assets if you default on the loan.

How do I get it?

You apply via one of the 40 approved banks and lenders listed here on the British Business Bank’s site. If your bank is one of the ones listed, you might find it easier and quicker to apply to them (but do check the terms they are offering compared to other lenders).

Tip: We recommend applying online, as phone lines are incredibly busy.

You apply through one of the approved lenders on the British Business Bank’s site.

Tip: the digital banks, like Starling Bank, are often the quickest to process loans. But you will need a business bank account with them.

3. Defer your tax payments: keep money in your business for cashflow

If you need to keep some cash (whether to pay employees, or yourself), you can defer some of your tax payments. It’s not perfect, because you’ll still need to pay that tax at a later date. But if you need cash now, then it’s an option.

Defer your VAT payment (March – June)

You can defer your Mar – Jun VAT payment until March 2021. You still need to file your VAT return in the normal way. You just don’t have to make the payment. You won’t get charged interest or penalties.

You don’t need to tell HMRC that you’re deferring – just don’t pay it. Remember, if you pay by direct debit, you’ll need to cancel that payment.

Defer your July self-assessment tax payment

If you’ve got a self-assessment tax prepayment due in July, you can bump the payment until January 2021.

Again, you don’t have to tell HMRC, you just don’t pay. You won’t get charged interest or penalties.

4. Need money for yourself? Check what benefits you could get

If you don’t think the above will get you enough income to pay your mortgage, rent or other living costs, then check what benefits you could get.

Use a benefits’ calculator

The rules around benefits claims (specifically Universal Credit) have been changed to make it easier for self-employed people to get support. Although it takes around 5 weeks for your UC application to be assessed, you can request an advance payment, which will be paid quicker to tide you over.

Use EntitledTo’s benefits calculator to see what you are eligible for.

If you are eligible for Universal Credit (or any other benefits), we recommend applying online as phone lines are incredibly busy.

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