Self-employed people across East Lancashire can breathe a sigh of relief this month as the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme 4 grant opens for applications.

The SEISS 4 is a grant worth up to £7,500, and is intended to help those whose incomes have been savaged by Covid, or who've had to make the previous grant last for up to five months.

And according to Martin Lewis, for the first time, up to 600,000 recent starter self-employed are due grants too.

Here are the need-to-knows:

SEISS 4 is the first grant that will look at 2019/20 tax returns.

Eligibility criteria for this grant are largely unchanged (leaving many still excluded), with one big exception - 2019/20 tax returns will be included, so those who started businesses after October 2018, who were previously excluded, may get one.

How does it work?

Eligibility: Self-employment trading profits for the 2019/20 tax year must be £50,000 or under, and at least equal to other income.

If not, it'll average the tax years 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20 to see if you qualify.

Amount: It pays 80 per cent of average trading profits up to £7,500 for February 1 to April 30.

The average is based on the four tax years up to and including 2019/20.

If you've a gap in the years traded, it only uses the tax returns after the gap.

It is believed the first applications open on April 22, although HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) hasn't confirmed that yet.

To stop the system being clogged up, HMRC isn't announcing a specific date applications open.

Instead, since Monday it has been sending those eligible a personalised 'earliest application' date via text, email or letter.

The money is usually paid about six working days after application.

HMRC does have a non-publicised 'find your date link', which seems to work for some, though it's saying it's still a work in progress, and won't officially launch something with all the data until next Monday.

If you check then and don't get a date, and think you should have, contact HMRC if you think there's been a mistake.

Due your first SEISS grant as a recent starter self-employed?

Some newly eligible businesses may have already had a letter from HMRC asking them to verify their ID, but that's separate from notification of your application date.

If you're not sure what to do, see Martin Lewis's newly eligible for SEISS help.

Some who were eligible before won't be now and payouts may change:

The change needed to include 600,000 new starters does slightly shift the maths, because of the inclusion of the 2019/20 tax year.

Bigger earnings in that year could mean a bigger payout or may push a few over the cliff edge of £50,000/yr max, leaving them ineligible.

Lower earnings then could reduce payouts or exclude you if non self-employed income was high.

How to claim:

To claim, you must declare that you've had a 'significant reduction' in profits.

Your business must have been hit by Covid between the beginning of February and end of April. 

Use Martin Lewis's detailed Can I claim the fourth grant? guide for full help and case studies.

One thing to note is that the payment is binary - if you're due it, you're due the entire amount.

What is SEISS 5?

SEISS 5 will cover May to September and is worth up to £7,500, but it's turnover dependent.

Those whose turnover fell by 30 per cent or more in the year to April 2021 will get 80 per cent of profits; those whose turnover fell by less than 30 per cent will get just 30 per cent of profits.

Exact eligibility criteria and application dates haven't yet been announced - for what is known so far, see SEISS 5 help.