Yesterday we published our response to the measures the government announced to support self-employed workers during the Covid-19 crisis. But more than simply giving our analysis of the situation, we wanted to reach out and hear from self-employed workers about their experiences, and give a voice and platform to a group often marginalised and forgotten. Its important we understand this crisis isn’t just impacting big businesses, despite the focus and loud voices of your Mike Ashleys and Richard Bransons. Across the UK millions of workers have been plunged into precarity and uncertainty, and its important we understand what they’re experiencing, how they feel and hear their response to the governments measures.
In just a couple of weeks it feels like a door has been slammed shut for so many of us who are self-employed. You get used to knowing which months are quieter, often winter, but this has been like a bolt out of nowhere. The uncertainty of not knowing how long this will go on for and whether we can survive is becoming unbearable. Fiona Hutton runs a guest house on the Isle of Canna, she has lost all her bookings with many cancellations into the summer due to the uncertainty, “I am unsure what financial help I’m eligible for because there is currently no admin in place to apply or speak to any advisor”. Jim Campbell, full-time magician in Edinburgh is in a similar position, all work cancelled, not knowing whether September bookings will go ahead or not, “it’s really scary, it takes a few months before I’ll be up to full capacity, so this will have a knock-on effect for the rest of the year, if not longer”.
We have all been waiting to hear what the chancellor has to offer and for many it isn’t fast enough. Robin Liebmann who runs Bespoke Organic Events will not be eligible to anything as his business is 33% of his income so will get nothing “I’m not too worried yet…I can and will survive okay on the rest”. However, Fiona feels less supported “The chancellor hasn’t helped me in the short term…I’m out of money now, so future financial aid in a month or three is no use. I’ll be out of business”. Jim also feels the same, “I’m okay for the moment, but scared about the future. I’m worried that HMRC may say I do not qualify for the chancellor’s package, if I am, I will get £600 a month. I hope Universal Credit can help, although, as friends tell me there are over 3000 people in front of them, it may be too late”.
Do we feel valued? Jim and Fiona don’t, “I am so angry, it feels like we have been forgotten. It’s so hard to be self-employed, living month to month, with uncertainty of what is coming in and often just incurring debt. If we were all given Citizen’s Basic Income it would be so much easier and we would be equal to everyone else”, says Jim. Robin does feel valued, “I’ve been pleasantly surprised at support the right wing Tory Government is promising individuals (both employed and finally self-employed) in these scary times; I’m just terrified about what they’ll do afterwards with Austerity 2.0”. For many, there is too much uncertainty on what they qualify for, the chancellors package maybe too little and too late.
During such an unprecedented and uncertain time, we want to hear from anyone who is comfortable with sharing their experiences and feelings. Be it a sense of insecurity, precarity or relief at the governments responses. We want you to join the Basic Income conversation, share your thoughts and let us know how receiving a Basic Income would change your life.