The Dickensian Plight of the 21st Century Self Employed!!

The COVID-19 outbreak has had a significant impact on businesses throughout the world and when things get back to normal there will be difficulties not only for the owners of those businesses that have survived but also for employees/contractors who may well have been affected by the issues of self-isolation and loss of friends and relatives.

For the self-employed/sole traders this crisis has been disastrous so far as an assumption has been made by our Government that we will have stashed money away to ‘tide us over’.  As evidenced by the numerous reports in the media this is not the case and for many, the only recourse is to apply for Universal Credit to then be told you may have to wait five weeks for any ‘benefits’ to hit the bank account!  For many the only option open to them has been to go to food banks or charities that have been set up to provide food for people in this situation!

How can this be right in the 21st century?!  It’s like something out of a Dickens novel!

This is a critical time for self employed people to consider how they are going to recover when things return to normal.  It does present us with an opportunity to plan for the future and think about what we might need to do to develop and improve the profile of our businesses.  This also must take into account the way in which the business is run ensuring that we have the appropriate legal and financial processes in place and if we intend to employ people or sub-contract work out then we must ensure we know how to go about doing this.

Technology enables us to work remotely but there is still a need to bring people together to help them feel part of a team and to meet up with their colleagues to review the shared goals of the business, feeding back to management ideas on potential developments and improvements that will enhance our customers’ experiences.

Where companies have been operating with people working remotely there will be the need to analysis whether this has been productive and can be continued in the short term as part of a phased return to work for their people or indeed, if this could be a beneficial way to continue to reduce business costs.

Each company needs a strategy for how it is going to manage the ramifications of this crisis to ensure they support people with returning to work.  If this is not carried out in a planned way then there is a risk that people will not ‘show up’, go sick or just leave which is costly for any business.

The cracks which have appeared in the UK’s system regarding the ‘support’ available to the self-employed must not be ‘papered over’ – they must be ‘filled’ – our Government must be challenged and shamed into acting fairly and without further delay to end this Dickensian Plight for the self employed!