How to cope with being self-employed or working in the gig economy during Covid-19
Coronavirus is affecting people’s lives up and down the country, particularly our finances.
StepChange Debt Charity is the UK’s leading provider of free, impartial debt advice. As the experts, we’ve asked them for their top tips on taking back control of your finances in a year where so many of us desperately need help.
I’m self-employed or work in the gig economy, what help is there for me?
Self-employment and gig economy work can be great in terms of flexibility but it can also mean a fluctuating income, which can make managing money difficult. In the current coronavirus crisis many people are struggling more than ever with the challenges that self-employment can bring. However, whether you need budgeting support or help with a debt problem, there is support available.
What government help is available?
The self-employment grant scheme has been extended from 1 November. This means that if you’re self employed you can apply for a grant worth up to 40% of your average monthly profits over the last three years, up to a maximum total of £3750.
The following have also been temporarily removed to help self-employed gig workers:
Universal Credit (UC) minimum payment floor - This means that self-employed people on low earnings will be able to get the same amount of UC as an employed person would
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) waiting days - This means that contribution-based ESA will be available from day one, rather than having to wait seven days for a payment
If you're self-employed and are worried about not being able to pay your tax due to coronavirus, HMRC has a helpline to support businesses and self-employed people who have been affected by the pandemic.
How can I budget on a fluctuating income?
Budgeting is important for everyone, but even more so if your income isn’t stable. You need to know that you’ve got enough money coming in to cover your living expenses from one month to the next, and spot areas where you can make savings.
A realistic and detailed budget will help you do both of these things and make those ‘peaks and troughs’ feel a bit smoother. Our article on budgeting on a fluctuating income has some tips that can help.
Where can I go for debt advice?
If you’re self employed and struggling with debts, you should contact Business Debtline. Their advice is free, confidential and independent. They’re run by charity the Money Advice Trust, and offer practical self-help to small business owners and people who are self-employed. Visit www.businessdebtline.org to find out more.