The Inn’s Executive Committee has now approved an extension to the Scheme to provide financial assistance to those members of the Inn whose practices have suffered substantially by reason of the COVID-19 crisis and its effects on the operation of the Courts, but whose pre-tax trading profits were in the bracket £50,000 - £70,000 before the pandemic, and who are thus outside the terms of the Government’s Covid-19 Self Employed Income Support Scheme (“SEISS”).
COVID-19 Scheme For Members With Pre-Lockdown Pre-Tax Trading Profits Between £50,000 And £70,000 Covering April 2021
The aim is to provide up to 6 months of support to successful applicants to a maximum of £2,500 per month. At this stage the number of applicants is of course unknown, and accordingly no promises can be given about whether the aspiration to help qualifiers to the extent of £2,500 can be met.
As was the case with the Scheme which ran between April 2020 and March 2021, it is designed to assist those who qualify by reason of the pre-pandemic level of their pre-tax trading profits (£50,000 - £70,000), and who (i) have experienced a severe downturn in their practice on account of the COVID-19 crisis, (ii) have suffered real hardship as a result, and (iii) have no alternative source of funds they can reasonably be expected to rely on. This is likely to be those whose practices concentrate on court appearances and are largely publicly funded, but the Scheme is not confined to them.
Applicants will appreciate that, given the constraints imposed by this crisis, and the need for the Inn to be reasonably satisfied on relatively limited criteria that it is proper for assistance to be given, the assessment of ‘real hardship’ will necessarily involve an imperfect value judgment. It is easier to presume hardship if the drop in pre-tax profit because of COVID-19 is substantial. By way of guidance, the Applications Panel for the Scheme is likely to accept hardship is shown if an applicant’s fee income has dropped by 50% or more. If the loss is smaller than that, then it will be necessary to scrutinise the evidence of hardship that is provided by answers in the application form. That said, each case will be assessed on its own individual merits.
Awards for the month of April 2021 will be assessed retrospectively. Applicants will therefore need to show what they actually billed in that month. Accordingly applications for April 2021 losses cannot be submitted until after 4 May 2021, when the application form will appear on the website. Assessments for the month of April will then be made during May, with payments shortly thereafter.
This extended Scheme will continue to be administered by an Applications Panel with a membership that may expand depending upon the workload that emerges. Two of the members at the outset will be the two trustees of the Marshall Hall Trust who have to date been administering the Inn’s Schemes for pupils and first year tenants and the earlier £50,000-£70,000 Scheme. It is hoped that applications can be determined on the basis of the information provided in completed application forms, without the need for interviews, and that payments of awards can be made promptly thereafter.
The Applications Panel has a broad discretion to make awards in appropriate cases in the form of grants as well as loans.
All details provided to the trustees will be treated in the strictest confidence.
Completed forms should be returned via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Application forms for later months will be available at the end of the month in question, and will be assessed in arrears.