South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has urged self-employed people in the region whose businesses have been hit by Covid-19, to consider applying for the second round of funding through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, which opens today (Monday).

However, the local MSP remains disappointed the fund still doesn’t include the newly self-employed, freelancers or those who pay themselves through dividends.

To be eligible, more than half of a claimant’s income needs to come from self-employment.

The scheme is open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19, or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.

As of Monday, those eligible can claim the second grant covering 70 per cent of the applicant’s average monthly trading profits.

It will also be made in a single payment, covering three months and capped at £2,190 a month, or £6,570 in total.

Applicants will need to confirm their business has been affected by the virus on or after 14 July, but they would not need to have taken the first grant to be eligible for the second.

The claims window is initially open for a four-day period but anyone who thinks they may be eligible and hasn’t been contacted by HMRC has until October to make a claim.

Colin Smyth said: “I would urge any self-employed people in the south of Scotland to consider applying for the latest round of funding through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme which is open from today.

“There are many people in our region who will be eligible, and it is very important that they don’t miss out.

“However, this will be no consolation for the hundreds of people who are not considered eligible for the scheme. The newly self-employed, freelancers and those who pay themselves through dividends will not be able to claim any money through SEISS, which is disappointing.

“This is just one reason I am calling on the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency to establish a dedicated local fund to support businesses during the current Covid-19 crisis. They need to step up to the mark and support local businesses to ensure they get through this economic downturn.

“Since the start of the pandemic I have been contacted by dozens of businesses who have fallen through the gaps in the various grant schemes that have been provided by the UK and Scottish Governments and many have lost out locally.

“I believe the creation of a dedicated south of Scotland funding scheme to allow local flexibility in how that is allocated is vital, and I’ll continue to put pressure on both the Scottish and UK Governments and their agencies to bring forward new grant schemes. The whole reason the Agency was set up was to provide local support tailored to local businesses, and that support will be more important now than ever.”

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