Since 9 April 2020 the Inn, in collaboration with the Marshall Hall Trust (MHT), has run a scheme to provide financial assistance to second/third six month pupils and first year tenants who would not be able to benefit from 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-September 2020
This was because members in those categories would not have filed a 2018-19 tax return, an essential qualification for those wishing to seek assistance under SEISS. However, SEISS also imposes another limit: only applications from people whose pre-tax trading profit is below £50,000 will be entertained.
The Inn’s Executive Committee has now approved a 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 previous pre-tax trading profits were in the bracket £50,000 - £70,000, and who are thus outside the terms of SEISS.
The Scheme will operate to compensate losses in the months of April-September 2020. 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.
In particular this Scheme is designed to assist those who, by reason of the level of their previous pre-tax trading profits (£50,000 - £70,000) qualify, and who
- have experienced a severe downturn in their practice on account of the COVID-19 crisis;
- have suffered real hardship as a result; and
- 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 below that, then it will be necessary to scrutinise more carefully 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.
This Scheme will 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 MHT who have administered and are administering the Scheme for pupils and first year tenants. It is hoped that applications can be determined on the basis of information provided in completed application forms, without the need for interviews, and that payments of awards can be made promptly thereafter.
An application form for the two months of July and August can be downloaded here:
Completed forms should be returned via email to Paul Clark at email@example.com. Application forms for later months will be available at the end of the month in question, and will be assessed in arrears.