The fall out of the Co-Vid19 pandemic hasn’t discriminated in the impact it has had on the livelihoods of creatives, tradespeople, hairdressers, caterers and many more.
The self employed had to wait the longest to find out what support package the government would offer.
Self-employed workers will have 80 per cent of their average earnings, or up to £2,500 a month, paid for by the government but the grants won’t be given out to those eligible, for at least three months.
You can’t even apply for the scheme until June when you will be contacted by HMRC and not all are covered under the announcement which is based on profit not income. And for instance if you pay yourself a dividend via a PSC (personal services company) you won’t get any support from this scheme.
Here three local residents explain how they have been affected.
Musician Marcus Cliffe, who is the base player with The Manfreds, the reformed legendary 60’s group Manfred Mann said: “Being self employed in the arts has always been an up and down way of life.
‘Feast or famine’ is a common phrase I’ve heard from my colleagues over the years. However the events of the last month or so have added a new set of experiences to my 35 years of self employment.
“Three weeks ago I had started a three month UK tour, we got three dates in and the whole lot was cancelled. Normally if a tour or any work is cancelled with short notice, either payment in full, or a negotiated cancellation fee is payable.
“Not this time a ‘force majeure’ means all insurance is null and void. So like most of my musician friends I found myself with no work and no compensation for the loss of it.”
Marcus who has worked with Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, as well as playing on mixes for Tina Turner, Sting and Mariah Carey added: “After the initial shock, I had to make a survival plan so first thing was my largest outgoing, the mortgage. I spent two hours on hold before speaking to someone who was very helpful and sorted out a mortgage holiday.
“I had a friend who was on hold from 8am until 8pm to get through to sort this out, so be prepared. I went through a list of all my monthly standing orders and worked out if I could freeze them or get them lowered. There are many grants available from the various musical/arts establishments, however if you have money put aside for your July or January tax bills then you’re not classed as in hardship!
“As self employed people we are actually better placed to deal with this sudden change from an emotional point of view as we have always had to make our own structure. It can be a time to be creative, however being worried is not conducive to creativity so that can be a catch 22 situation.”
Here are Marcus’ personal suggestions to staying sane through the weeks ahead:
1: do some sort of exercise: a healthy body will keep your immune system strong and keep you mentally in better shape.
2: Learn something new; I’m learning Davinci resolve video editing for example.
3: Try make some sort of daily routine, for me that’s daily practice of my instrument.
4: Avoid social media! I’ve come off facebook. The spread of misinformation, negativity and fear isn’t good for you.
5: If you have to read the news get it from a reliable source.
6: don’t be afraid to ask for help
Handyman and gardener Grant Winters, who runs Around the House, said: “A couple of months back as we approached Chinese New Year, when we saw Wuhan lock down. I wondered how long Covid-19 would take to reach us. It was very fast.
“I had already started making adjustments in my head as to what I might do. I knew this was coming our way. I had plenty of work in the diary that I could look forward to. But time has a trick of passing you no matter how fast you work.
“Times three weeks I had to postpone a few jobs to build cough screens for my partner’s pharmacy, then for the other shops. With that, a couple of choice announcements by Government my work jobs were starting to get cancelled.
“The enquiries fell off a cliff. My diary is clear… I have taken only a couple of jobs where premises are vacant. But they are a little scant on the ground. I am resigned to the fact I will stay mainly at home looking after my 10-year-old daughter.
“And I do make the most of this opportunity to make my time with her count. I am though still at a loss as to how I am going to finance my normal out goings. It’s all very well the bank saying you can take a repayment holiday. But three months from now, the interest accrued will bump up my out goings even further. That will not help anything.
“I am seriously looking into other work to allow my family get through this experience while staying financially buoyant. I don’t have the luxury of waiting till June for the Government to help me.
“Being self-employed has definitely got its downside… my earnings were not great as my little business has grown. So based on those earnings any payout will fall short of what is needed.
“As for my partner, there will be absolutely nothing if she has to stop work. There is no net to catch us.”
Mum Heidi Tompson is doubly affected as her husband Scott is also self employed working with tenants and landlords.
Heidi who runs Sugar and Spice, supplying bespoke cakes to order for any event, said: “I’m just hoping that the customers I have will return but as my business is ‘not important and more luxurious’ people just won’t have money to buy cakes.
“I actually don’t see me getting back to business until next year. My husband is hoping he will be back far sooner. It’s a very hard time for everyone as it’s something no-one has experienced before. I’m hoping that the last 10 years of my business and training hasn’t gone.”