COVID-19 update 18/03/20 – self-employed individuals

If you are self employed and have a loss of income due to COVID-19, you may be able claim Universal Credit.

To be eligible, you must have less then £16,000 in savings. Universal Credit eligibility is based on household income and savings, so the people you live with could affect how much you receive.

The allowances are;

25 or over and living on your own = £317.82 per month

Under 25 and living on your own = £251.77 per month

This is paid monthly and you could receive more if you have children, dependents or a disability.

The Department for Work and Pensions will need you to verify your income each month.


If you are self employed and self-isolating due to COVID-19, you can apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Under usual circumstances, you would need to provide a ‘Fit Note’ however the Government have temporarily removed this requirement.

The allowances are;

25 or over = £73.10 per week

Under 25 = £57.90 per week

To be eligible, you must have paid National Insurance for the previous 2 years. If you haven’t paid National Insurance contributions in the past 2 years, please see below. ESA can be received from Day 1 of sickness, rather than Day 8.


Common questions and answers:

  1. Is the value of my property included within the £16,000 savings limit, when applying for Universal Credit? The value of a property is not included within the £16,000 savings limit. The £16,000 is cash-based savings or investments. If your savings exceed £16,000, you will not be entitled to Universal Credit. If your savings are over £6,000 but not over £16,000, the amount you receive may be affected. 

  2. Does the Self-Employed ‘Minimum income floor’ still apply for Universal Credit applications? No. HMRC have temporarily suspended the Minimum Income Floor. 

  3. When will I receive my Universal Credit? Universal credit usually takes 5 weeks for the assessment to be processed and for the first payment to be made. Due to COVID-19, the government are making advance payments. After your application, you should receive payments fairly quickly. 

  4. I already receive Universal Credit but have been affected by COVID-19. In this case, you will need to contact your work coach in the usual way either by phone or using your online journal to update your circumstances. 

  5. I have been ‘On Hold’ to the Department of Work and Pensions line for a long time. The ‘DWP’ are experiencing a high volume of calls, it can take on average 50 minutes to be put through to an advisor. It can take a while, but you will eventually get through. 

  6. I am employed on a ‘Zero Hour Contract’, can I apply for Statutory Sick Pay? SSP may be available for employees on Zero-hour contracts, providing all other areas of SSP are met. We would advise checking your contract in the first instance and checking with the employer. SSP is also now paid on Day 1 of sickness rather than Day 4. If you cannot claim for SSP, we would advise that you apply for Universal Credit. 

  7. Do I still need to provide a ‘Fit Note’ for my application for ‘New Style ESA’? You will no longer need to provide a ‘Fit Note’ for the New Style ESA. 
  8. I have not paid Class 2 National Insurance Contributions in the past 2 years, as Self-Employed, what am I entitled to? If you have not paid Class 2 National Insurance Contributions in the previous 2 years, you will not be eligible for the ‘new style ESA’. However, you can apply for ‘Income related ESA’. This is means tested and will consider other factors, such as a partner’s income, where applicable. 

  9. I am unable to keep up with my mortgage payments. What do I need to do? The Government have announced plans for all mortgage providers to honour a 3-month ‘payment holiday’. Further guidance is due to be published in the coming days and the majority of lenders are requesting that you contact them directly to arrange this break.

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