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Lockdown: 'I swing between anger, hope, despair'

lily9889
Ранг: Гость
Всего сообщений: 8
  Опубликовано: 05-11-2020 08:51
Lockdown: 'I swing between anger, hope, despair'




Months of worry and sleepless nights has taken its toll on Helen Godbold-Eade. "I swing between anger and depression, hope and despair," she said. "And exhaustion, always exhaustion."

Like millions of the UK's self-employed and owners of small businesses, she suffered a dramatic coronavirus hit to trading. But what has made things so much worse, she says, is not being able to access vital support.

On Monday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that from Thursday the self-employed would get enhanced help for the month of November - 80% of their trading profits instead of 40%.

Not Helen, though. In fact, she is one of an estimated 2.9 million self-employed and freelancers who have never been entitled to the job support package put in place when lockdown was imposed in March.

The injustice, she says, is corrosive. "It's really hard to stay positive when you have so much fear about having enough to live on."

There are several reasons some self-employed cannot access the relief. For some it's because they are newly-self employed and do not have the necessary financial track record. For others, it's because they earned too much in recent years to qualify.

But Helen is disqualified from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) because her property administration company, Like-Clockwork, pays her in dividends - a perfectly legal method used by tens of thousands of directors.

"I pay £48 less tax per year than my sole-trader colleagues. I take £12,000 a year via PAYE, and between £10,000 and £12,000 a year via dividends - but only if I've made enough profit. That's why I do this model.

"The government has said those paid in dividends can't claim any support as they can't tell whether the dividend has come from my business or from investments. Utter tosh. It's on my company accounts and my tax returns."


Savings gone
Working from home means other grants and rates relief are not applicable, and she does not want to risk taking on debt via a Bounce Back Loan because the future of her 15-year-old business looks so uncertain.

She said: "Turnover has halved due to Covid 19, and there's no way of knowing what will happen in the coming months. The stress and worry has been really hard to live with. It's with me 24/7. Sleepless nights are the norm."

Helen says she has exhausted her savings, and relentless job-hunting has so far failed to turn up any work. "But I'm trying to stay positive and support others who are going through worse," she said.

People in a similar position say support groups, such as ExcludedUK, which campaigns on behalf of the left-behind, have been vital in getting them through the last six months.

"We're all part of the same sinking ship, but ExcludedUK has been a lifesaver," said Huw Davies.

Aged 60, he had one eye on a comfortable retirement. Now, with work having dried up and his savings slowly eroding, the IT project manager can only see his financial desperation getting worse.

"If nothing improves, in a few months I'll have to put the company into bankruptcy and move back into my mother's house," he said. "I'm just so very anxious about my future. It looks bad."

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