It’s been a busy month for freelancers as we draw close to the end of the tax year and continue to deal with the effects of a winter in lockdown on our businesses, workloads and mental health. The end of home-schooling earlier this month meant an opportunity for freelancing parents to refocus back on to work, and is hopefully the start of a longer path back to normality. However you’ve got through winter, whether it’s binge-watching Bridgerton or plugging into podcasts, it’s time to put the darker days behind us. As the clocks have sprung forward, here is Dinghy’s March wind-up.
The 2021 Budget was announced at the beginning of the month with unusually little fanfare. As we suspected, the measures announced were very focused on addressing the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, extending government support schemes like furlough until September and putting in place loan schemes and Restart Grants to help businesses of all sizes get back on their feet. The Chancellor also announced the creation of a new UK Infrastructure Bank, which we hope will bring new work opportunities for freelancers. There was some worrying news about the impact of the coronavirus shutdowns on the economy, which is predicted to have shrunk by 10% since last year. But this was countered by good news about the ongoing vaccination programme, with over 30 million adults in the UK now having had their first dose. You can read our round-up of all things budget here on our blog. However, the biggest news in the Budget as far as freelancers are concerned was…
The extension of SEISS
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is the government’s main financial support for freelancers and the self-employed whose profits and businesses have been affected by the ongoing impact of coronavirus. Because freelancers aren’t eligible to be furloughed like employees, they can instead claim grants of up to 80% of trading profit covering 3-month periods. The money is non-repayable (but it is taxable), and you can claim up to £7,500 per round, depending on your average profits in previous tax years. The schemes do have strict eligibility criteria, which has left some freelancers struggling to get by without support. The good news in the 2021 Budget was not just the extension of this scheme until September, but also the announcement that the 4th and 5th grants which will cover this spring/summer period are also now open to new freelancers. Anyone who started freelancing after April 2019 had previously been excluded from SEISS, but if you have recently started freelancing and submitted a tax return for 19/20, then you should take a look at whether you can now claim. We’ve put all the info you need about current government support for freelancers together in a handy blog.
From the end of this month, lockdown easing has started in England and Wales, and will follow next month in Scotland and Northern Ireland. In England, this means that the rule of 6 now applies outdoors, and you no longer need an “essential” reason to be out of the house. While we’re all looking forward to seeing our family and friends again, for some this might mean a return to the office is drawing nearer. We gave you our top tips for staying COVID-safe if you’re heading back to a co-working space, client’s premises or an external meeting. If, however, you’re going to carry on working from home, perhaps it’s time to upgrade your workspace a little bit? We’ve put together a list of our favourite office chairs on the market right now – from functional to high fashion, and brainstormed some ways for you to let the sunshine in with our “how to bring some spring into your home office” guide. The reopening of more sectors of the economy over the next few months may mean that freelancers start to see an uptick in their workloads. For most, this will be extremely welcome and good news, but it may mean that clients start to extend their asks beyond what was originally agreed on a project. If this happens you may be dealing with “scope creep” – and earlier this month we took a closer look at this common freelancing problem and how to handle it.
So that’s what you missed in March! Dinghy is always here to support freelancers in their journey and help them protect themselves against risk. As the Ever Given container ship (definitely our favourite news story of this month for the meme generation alone) has shown – it pays to expect the unexpected! You can get the rundown on all the insurances we think are essential for freelancers in this handy blog, and if you want to talk through your options you can give our friendly team a call on 0116 380 5654 or pop by our website for a quick quote.