When the government first announced lockdown and the support we would receive to stay at home, saving lives and the NHS, the whole country breathed a huge sigh of relief…
However, for thousands of us small business owners across the UK, this feeling of protection was short-lived. It soon became clear that many of us were about to slip through the cracks of financial support and encounter another struggle for survival…
The forgotten few (thousand!)
From beauticians to bookkeepers, there are thousands of small businesses across the South West (and indeed across the country) that are at a real risk of collapse or slashing jobs if they don’t receive the urgent financial support they need. Despite the announcement of business support packages being created to keep the economy afloat, thousands of directors of small limited companies are facing their toughest times yet, with some already at breaking point.
This is precisely why I became an ambassador for the brilliant #ForgottenLtd Campaign. This national campaign originally started as a social media movement and aims to raise awareness of the lack of meaningful government support for the small business community across the UK.
The real issue
When creating the support packages, a decision was made by the government to ignore those business owners who pay their salaries through a low wage and top up with dividends – a perfectly legitimate practice recommended by accountants. But now all those who pay themselves in this way are excluded from support and unable to be furloughed because we cannot keep our businesses running under the restrictions imposed by the government – and 80 per cent of our small salary is not enough to live on.
Some of us have found ourselves with staff on furlough, no income, fixed costs we’re committed to paying, and no personal funds to soften the blow. We have lobbied our MPs and the Chancellor who is not listening. (Although my MP has been very sympathetic to our cause, I’m aware of other MPs simply copying and pasting bland answers around – ‘it’s tough’ or ‘it’s too complex’.)
Business owners still pay corporation tax which for me is about £5k a year and I still pay VAT – which equates to about £12K a year. So my little company, on average pays HMRC £17K a year – I employ myself, I am my business…yet I don’t matter.
Calling for a change
#ForgottenLtd Campaign is calling on the government to address this disparity by extending COVID-19 support packages to those businesses left behind.
Working with the founders, I’m calling for businesses across the South West region who are affected by this issue to share their stories and keep up the pressure on the government to deal with all businesses fairly and equitably.
The campaign group is hoping to force a parliamentary debate on the issue by collating 100,000 signatures on a petition – and will continue to highlight the inequality faced by small business owners throughout England.
A storm is coming…
I genuinely believe a storm is coming.
When furlough money is reduced, many redundancies will take place and recession will be complete. If the government does not act now, I can see this all coming to a head late July and August.
On one day alone last week, one of our members in HR did over 40 consultations for redundancy. The lack of support and lack of income for small business owners, particularly those with staff, means that when furloughing support drops there will be redundancies across the board.
Even my media consultancy, which I set up in 2008, has suffered a 40 per cent drop in turnover during lockdown. However, there are many businesses far worse off than me. I am one of the lucky ones that has been able to continue to work and earn – even though some clients cannot pay me anything because their business has shut down overnight.
I’ve had to be flexible to survive. If I owned a hair salon, or a clinic or any business which required me to have close personal contact with others, I would have been finished. Indeed, many are or know they will be over the coming weeks without this vital support.
Want to help save jobs?
If your business is affected by this issue and you want to feature as a case study, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. You can find out more about the campaign here and sign the petition for the government to make a change – https://forgottenltd.com