A Driving Instructor's Blog

COVID School of MotoringThey get, worse. They really do. Why do people who are usually unable to even do their own accounts insist on reading into things, and then create concerns among others?

A few weeks ago, it was announced that the SEISS scheme would be paid for a 2nd and final time, and you’ll be able to apply in August. Bear in mind that SEISS is not something created specifically for driving instructors – it is for self-employed people. It may come as a surprise, but there are more self-employed people out there than there are driving instructors. A lot more.

The Government website states:

This scheme is being extended, and you’ll be able to claim a second and final grant in August 2020.

We will work out your eligibility the same way as the first grant. If you make a claim for the second grant you will have to confirm your business has been adversely affected on or after 14 July 2020.

This grant will be a taxable grant worth 70% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering a further 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.

You can claim for the second and final grant even if you did not make a claim for the first grant.

It is the part about ‘on or after 14 July’ which has steamed up a few pairs of bifocals. Apparently, if you twist it around enough, you can convince yourself that they aren’t paying you for June.

Look, it’s really simple. In August you will be able to claim 70% of your average monthly business profit (not 80%, like last time), for a further three months of missed work. It’s up to you whether you include June in that, but it’s still three months – it says so in black and white.

The part about having to confirm your business is affected is fairly obvious – because of the aforementioned belief that SEISS is only for instructors. That condition was in there from the moment they announced it on 31 May, and is more relevant to the vast majority of self-employed people who could be working fairly normally by that time.

If you’re one of those instructors who has been itching to get back – and even if you’re one of the ones who has spent the time since March spamming every message board going telling people ‘technically, we can work’, even though you haven’t – if you are working before 14 July then it’s your problem if HMRC decides you are not affected and therefore not eligible. Just as it would be for me.

The problem here is that it is obvious to anyone with any sense that driving instructors should not be working right now. Even if you manage to cram all the good things you’ve read into a toothpaste tube and squeeze them out into a convoluted sentence that leads you to conclude you technically can work, you shouldn’t be. Even if you dunk your car in a bath of sanitizer between lessons you shouldn’t be. And even if you conduct lessons wearing a deep-sea diving suit you shouldn’t be. Because the virus is still there, at quite a high level, and you will be shut in a tin box with strangers less than half a metre away from you for hours at a time. The only thing you’re thinking of is money – which explains why some people are prepared both to go back to work as soon as they can and try to claim SEISS on top.

I know full well I will not be working on 14 July. Even if I technically can.

They’re going to take it off you again

No. They. Aren’t.

Jesus, how thick do you need to be? If you were eligible in the first place – by not working at all, and not getting a mountain of income from stocks and shares, or a pension – the first SEISS is yours, as long as you didn’t lie to them. If you did lie, it serves you right if you have to pay it back.

The criterion was that if more than 50% of your income over the last three years was from self-employment, you were eligible for the SEISS. That’s how it was for me – initially, 100% of my income was from self-employment over the last three years, and half way through it switched to 70% self-employment and 30% private pension. My PAYE account, along with my self-assessment, shows HMRC clearly what my income was. I had purposely dialled back on work because of my pension – with hindsight, and for purely financial reasons, I wish I hadn’t. But that’s irrelevant. Even if I’d always had that pension, I’d still have been eligible.

In August, and unless I am am working normally, I will be eligible again. I may have to prove that, but it would be no issue at all doing so.

The only way you’d need to pay anything back is if it turned out you’d been working normally throughout the period. If they caught up with you on that, it’s up to you to sort it out. You shouldn’t have been working, and if you were and still claimed, you only have yourself to blame.

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