Many self-employed people are already seeing their businesses disappear before their eyes as the coronavirus pandemic erodes bookings and their finances. To date the only support available for the self-employed is Universal Credit, set at £94.25 per week.
Some of those people have had work cancelled as a result of their customers staying at home and social distancing. Why have your dog walked or grass cut regularly if you're now around to do these jobs yourself? Since we can no longer invite people into our homes, cleaners, mobile hairdressers and other people providing domestic and personal services are no longer needed.
But before you cancel your cleaner, gardener or childminder, consider whether you can afford to keep them on so they get the support the government is not yet providing.
If you're an employee receiving your monthly salary and supported by the government's 80% earnings pledge, perhaps you could Pay Now and Buy Later rather than cancelling their services completely.
5 ways you can help the self-employed
1. Pay a retainer
BiZHUB Hub host, Stuart Morrison, has already offered his cleaner a retainer to help them stay in business, even though Stu is self-employed himself. He said,
"Now that we're all housebound we can't have a cleaner, but eventually when this crisis is over we will want them back. So I've offered my cleaner 50% of what we normally pay them to ensure that when things return to normal we can have our regular slot back.
"If everyone cancels their weekly or fortnightly clean, this business will cease to exist. Scale that up with other domestic service providers in the Whitehill & Bordon area, and it will not only be devastating for the individuals affected but also for the local economy."
If you need to reduce your overheads because of uncertain times, suggest a retainer arrangement where you pay a percentage of the normal fee. The more generous you can be, the greater the support for the self-employed people you normally rely on.
2. Pay now, buy later
Sumi Olson, Liphook Garden, Pet & House Care Service, has had numerous bookings cancelled in recent weeks as homeowners have had to postpone Easter holiday plans. She's launched her own scheme inspired by the #justonecard campaign. Sumi is calling it 'just one day' and is asking customers to buy a one day booking for her services which they can redeem later or she will donate their booking to charity once her finances allow. Sumi explains in a Facebook post:
"I would not ask if the time and need was not so severe. I feel only able to do so if this is seen as a genuine exchange - either for services to be rendered or charity contributions that I will pass on, from summer time onwards, or as close to that as possible.
"Thus far, there's no viable or practical support for the self-employed. Universal credit has never been set up properly for the self-employed and as they take joint income into account, it makes it harder for self-employed claimants (who are claiming for a business need, but who will regarded as a household based personal beneficiary.) If I claim sickness, I get statutory sick pay for a very limited period for not very much."
Sumi hopes that this initiative will give her a small financial cushion while she establishes other revenue streams.
Why not suggest a similar idea to the people you regularly use for services like pet sitting and either pay now for services in lieu, or ask them to make a donation to charity when they're back on their feet?
3. Don't cancel direct debits unless you have to!
If you're in a position to continue paying self-employed people regardless of whether they're able to deliver their normal services, please do. Small regular payments could make all the difference at this difficult time. If other people do the same you could be collectively helping a local family from falling below the poverty line.
If you know other people who are also customers, for example if you're a member of a group exercise class, why not encourage them to also continue paying? The more that can, the more likely your exercise class or other services will be able to resume after the crisis is over.
Please share this post on your social media channels to raise awareness and encourage other people to look out for the self-employed people in our community. Use the hashtag #PayNowBuyLater and we'll retweet or share your post too.