Industry comes together to create COVID-19 income checker for self-employed

23 Mar 2020

Source: Forbes

On Friday, U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced a historic scope of measures which included paying full-time employed workers grants equating to 80 percent of their average income over the past three years or £2,500, whichever is lower.

However, Sunak’s proposed relief programme does not consider a large part of the U.K.’s workforce: the self-employed. Almost five million individuals are self-employed in the U.K. and are unable to register themselves as furloughed workers and therefore, cannot qualify for relief from the government.

To remedy this issue, a team of self-isolated contributors from the fintech community, namely rental deposit provider Fronted, consultancy 11:FS and decisioning provider Credit Kudos, have worked tirelessly over the weekend on a product that proves that data can demonstrate a loss of income as a result of the coronavirus.

This could potentially allow the self-employed to prove they are furloughed workers and claim income relief, which they are entitled to as full-time workers in addition to providing the government with a possible route to supporting these individuals. Jamie Campbell, Co-Founder of Fronted, revealed on Twitter that Covid Credit, the COVID-19 income checker, would possibly be available as early as Monday, just three days after Sunak’s announcement.

The proof of concept will use open banking data to support the five million freelancers and self-employed in the U.K. who are currently not eligible to receive income support from the Government. Covid Credit intends to allow these individuals to generate a self-certification of income loss, which can then be sent to HM Revenue & Customs, potentially life-changing during the COVID-19 economic crisis.

Following a tweet on Saturday morning from Simon Taylor, 11:FS Co-Founder, who stated that the government could simply create a portal that would check income, identify average income and set up payment with the Department of Work and Pensions, a potential customer journey was quickly drawn up with Anthony Mann, Co-Founder of Fronted.

By the end of the day, the Open Banking journey was structured, the self-certification process was generated, data capture and verification were implemented and a website for Covid Credit had been set up.

On Sunday, the team of contributors completed onboarding flow and the data delivery mechanism before linking the open banking journey. The last piece of the puzzle was drafting the self-assessment statutory declaration.

In what has been dubbed the fastest fintech project ever implemented, the intended launch of Covid Credit is set to take place on Monday and the product is expected to be available to the entire U.K. self-employed community in need of financial support after loss of income as a result of the coronavirus.