The landmark Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) recorded more than 440,000 applications on its first day, official figures have revealed.
According to the Treasury, the total cost of claims in the first 24 hours came in at £1.3 billion, or around £3,100 per claim.
Commenting on the success of the scheme so far, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he was pleased to see the “world-leading support scheme” helping so many people already.
He added: “This money will ensure the self-employed can get through these challenging times.”
But experts suggest this is just a tenth of the total funding available, with self-employed workers expected to claim over £10 billion throughout the course of the pandemic.
Under the scheme, which opened “weeks ahead of schedule” on Wednesday, applicants whose self-employed business has been adversely affected by Covid-19 can apply to claim 80 per cent of their average monthly trading profits for the last three months, up to a maximum £2,500 per month.
To qualify, your self-employed business must be actively trading (or would be if it were not for the Coronavirus); earn less than £50,000 a year, calculated using the tax years 2018/19, 2017/18 and 2016/17 (where applicable); and must have submitted a tax return for the 2018/19 tax year.
This means that self-employed businesses with just one year of trading records do not apply for the scheme.
But Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said the scheme represents a lifeline for those who qualify.
“I would encourage all those who think they are eligible to use the online checker if they’ve not done so yet, and to apply on the date allocated,” he said.
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