What strange times we are in and even those of us that have business disruption insurance are not 100% entitled to it .... Nothing is clear! Which is why I have been scrolling the internet to help you make sense and get help out of this mess.
It breaks my heart to see so many family members, colleagues, friends, teachers, students, professionals have their businesses taken from them or careers halted to a standstill beyond their control. With no help or support in place... but there is a silver lining - The whole country is in the same position. It's good to see businesses reach out and help (In these times most companies are freezing payments & subscriptions. Banks are ready to provide interest free loans... and the government are making promises to help). So what to do first?
Immediate Review of Personal Situation
Everyone should be looking at their finance income and outgoings for the next 12 weeks ensuring that they can stop, freeze and negotiate.
There are things you can do if you’re struggling to pay things like your rent, mortgage or energy bills. It’s important you don’t ignore your bills. Speak to the organisation you owe money to - they will be able to help by letting you pay smaller amounts or take a break. It’s also worth checking with your bank or building society - they might be able to help you with your debts or let you delay loan or credit card repayments.
Landlords & bank mortgage payments can give you a 3 month holiday break but talk to them directly (This usually means you have a break in payments but your contract is extended by 3 months). Look into negotiating better deals with TV and broadband suppliers. Try to stop auto payments but again, check with utilities etc as penalties may occur if you stop and don’t pay anything without negotiating it first.
OK... you are organised with your current personal state, lets go into what's ahead.
Main sources for this blog are from UK government website, HMRC, Citizens Advice, ACE, Equity.
In this blog I will reveal
1 - What's available for you to access and apply for.
2 - How to adapt your business or look for alternative income.
3 - Understanding your personal transition path.
Take a breathe… its going to be ok. No matter what happens you are strong to deal with it and cope. There are lots of people wanting to help, so today I am signposting you on what’s out there during this lockdown.
1 - What's Available For You To Access And Apply For
Government options - Grants, loans and benefits
Job Retention Scheme - (This is about PAYE wages - not for self employment).
This is for all UK employers. You will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary (eg for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis). To access the scheme you will need to:
Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change - changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation.
Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)
This is a way of labelling your employee so they can process the grant.
The government have stated that HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers. If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan. This scheme is being backdated and available from 1st March 2020.
Business Interruption Loan Scheme - Businesses with a turnover up to £45m can borrow up to £5m for a maximum term of six years under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. This doesn't apply to most of my readers so I'm moving on.
Small Business Grant Fund - Eligibility is still based around rate relief. Those who qualify for Small Business Rate Relief (SBBR) or Rural Rate Relief will be able to get the funding. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy will be working with local authorities to outline the scheme and encourage local authorities to prepare.
However, once up-and-running, your local authority will contact you rather than having to apply yourself. Grant money will not be available until early April.
Valued Added Tax (VAT) - Payments for all businesses can be deferred for three months from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. If you’re self-employed, income tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system are being deferred until January 2021. You do not need an application for this and businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.
A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs. Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke “Time to Pay” arrangement.
Time to Pay - This arrangement gives companies additional breathing space to settle their existing HMRC liabilities.
If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to Covid-19, call HMRC’s helpline on 0800 0159 559.
Business Rates - Retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England will not have to pay business rates for a year starting from April 2020. That includes all shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars, cinemas and live music venues, hotels and guesthouses (among other businesses).
Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will also be able to apply for a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property. Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of £15,000 and under will receive a grant of £10,000. Those with a property that has a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.
Firms in any sector that are in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief will receive a grant of £10,000.
The government warns that the local authority may have to reissue your bill immediately to exclude the business rate charge. They’ll do this as soon as possible. The government will also review the long-term future of business rates, a property tax which many say is unfair given the rise of online shopping and out-of-town retail parks.
Get on to your local authority for queries
On Tuesday the government has removed the minimum income floor for Universal Credit claims. This means claims won’t be judged on expected earnings, so people may be able to claim more. The standard allowance has also been raised, from £317.82 to £409.89 a month.
Yesterday it was announced we can apply for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). This will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) who have lost income due to coronavirus (COVID-19).
This scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed. - This has an average over your past three years accounts to my understanding.
I was interested to hear what our biggest entrepreneur had to say regarding our situation.
Richard Branson's post from LinkedIn
Equity amongst others are helping
Equity is working with other trade unions, the TUC, management associations and our parliamentary grouping to make sure that the government hears the voice of workers in our industry. Equity are lobbying the government to provide additional financial support to workers and the industry in this difficult time. As a key part of the modern UK economy and society, the entertainment industry must be supported and not overlooked. Please keep looking at Equity's website and social media for updates on these campaigns and how you might help get your voice heard at this time of a global issue.
More information on their advice to support
Arts Council England (ACE)
You will be able to claim benefits if you’ve lost your job or you’re self-employed and can’t get work.
What you can claim will depend on your situation. You can check if you can claim:
Universal Credit - self employed workers can claim too
Jobseeker’s allowance - you can’t claim this if you’re self-employed
If you’re already claiming benefits like housing benefit or tax credits, you might get more money if your income is reduced. You can contact your local council to see if they can give you any extra help from a hardship fund. There is Citizen's Advice help too
Film & TV help support
Groups / Help & Resources
There have been lots of groups set up in the past few weeks to help small businesses and self employed people from all sectors. To share current challenges, advice, support and resources… There are also groups rallying for change... as the government do not currently help support self employment with holiday pay, sick pay, compensations or pensions which is being addressed. To tackle any of these issues its about coming together and having a bigger voice so please join, get involved, have your say and make a difference!
Artistic Mutiny - Facebook
A group of audacious, lively and passionate individuals working in the arts, who share the mission to be a little more rebel and a lot more Pirate.
Together they challenge the status quo, break the rules, rewrite the rules and recreate the systems and ecology we often feel strangled by and forced to work within.
Improbable resource post
2 - How To Adapt Your Business Or Look For An Alternative Income
Digital Performing Arts Festival Craig Bartley
Creative Distance Festival Katie McGarry
Two very different platforms for different participants created from Covid-19 business shutdown. I have seen many business move online but what are the options?
You know your business, product, service and skill set better than anyone so options for you to reinvent yourself, do temporary alternative work or volunteer in the many jobs for NHS, careers and community work is your decision, but it is a decision you need to set. If you have no income and outgoings cannot be frozen or negotiated for the next 3-6 months - An new strand of income is your only choice. I have outlined options and resources to help.
Jobs - A list of current positions from PSA. Job listings are being created daily for urgent workers - keep searching.
These are unprecedented times with an uncertainty about what our future work life may be. Especially for us freelancers. The good thing is that we can change and adapt. Our money value and representation has become a variable giving us more power to negotiate, exchange for alternatives and create a new purpose in what ‘money’ means.
“Money is an energy that’s more flexible than we realise. Money represents relationships, and everything is negotiable, especially now.” Suzanne Yada
Suzanne Yada's blog on how creatives can get online ASAP is good for those who want quick answers.
This website I highly recommend for it’s excellent content and proven methods to help freelances get online, set up and established. Founder of Tutti Spaces Gabriel Isserlis has provided these free resources on tips, apps and tools to get you earning alternative ways Tutti
Be wary of ‘quick fix’ online entrepreneur funnels that charge to train you up, it’s true that some people make it ‘famous’ online but for most it’s a long term venture that comes into fruition 3, 5 or 10 years down the road.
This working document I've found is good for those who want to learn the ropes for remote working. It is broad and a bit of a read with its 60 pages of information and resources but great as it including mental and physical health, remote recruiting, business organisation and contingency planning. You can dip in and take what you need from it .
Lets explore Ideas
There have been lots of studio owners and teachers collaborating on ideas to host classes, tests, challenges etc online. Some are:
Theory quiz (syllabus terminology / music rudiments and rhythm challenges / national dance history - pick a country and do a project etc).
Dance routine challenges - posted on various social media with your school tagged in.
Poetry & Drama challenges - writing, pictures, videos sent in and live stream reply of winner.
Online classes in private groups for their members or open to the public for a wider reach.
Live streaming clases.
Organise online events / webinars / training courses.
I am sure you will find lots more from the support groups as mentioned earlier.
3 - Your Transition Path For Change
This is a BIG change, allow yourself to chance and adjust. You are not expected to be a superhero and adapt in an instant. There are lots of people out there to help you through this for free so please give yourself credit and allow this 'time' as a complete person to change - There is no point in the practical aspect changing if your physical, mental and emotional one is catching up as you will stress, burn out and won't be productive in what you are delivering.
Take time out to review, reflect and grieve the loss of what has gone, so you can transition to your next stage. With any change we naturally go through some of these stages:
denial or resistance to the reality.
anger or frustration because you don't want to change.
negotiating and trying other methods to keep something the same.
sadness because you have no choice and in the process you have lost something important to you.
acceptance of your new reality - You are emotionally ready!
I have produced a 'time out' reflective mindfulness session to help with focus and. productivity. Let me know what you think
Could you use this time to review your business, go through your data and improve changes to your business environment and implement them before you return?
It is not just you going through a transition, your business is too.
Change management is described as
A process to ensure a business responds to the environment in which it operates
For your business transition to see the light get to grips with :
Whats the plan? - Plan your business - what products, services, income & outgoings etc.
Identify possible barriers and risks.
Inform key people of your plan (do this each step of the way).
Manage staff and train them to be capable and confident.
Align job roles, responsibilities and make them accountable.
Communicate to all involved at each step of the way.
This is a constant cycle of - communicate, adjust, train, align, review
Alternatively you could use this shutdown to your advantage by allowing yourself to PAUSE, do the things you've always wanted to do
What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
Produce an online syllabus
Write that book
Deliver digital products
Produce that music mix
Create that web course
Or start that online video channel
It’s Good To Talk!
This is an understatement, especially during this isolation period so lend an ear to friends, family and creatives… They have various needs as Tigger MacGregor explains (Tigger is on one of my Facebook groups and gave great advice about the three main chats people do to offload)
1) "Pure listening" - this is very much what Samaritans do. No problem solving, no advice giving, but a space to share what's going on for you and have someone who will literally just listen and be there on the end of the phone so you're not on your own. Please note this would not be in any way an "official" Samaritans call, but informed by training I've received from them and the overall Samaritans ethos.
2) "Chat" - the kind of conversation you'd have with a mate. Literally like we'd have if we met up for a coffee. Free ranging, no specific boundaries or aims, just having a chat
3) "Creative Thinking" - this is aiming to create a space where you can do your best thinking to solve your own problem. I'm active in that I'm there and listening, but I'm not providing any of the solutions - they're all coming from within you. It's amazingly effective, I've found in the past. Based on Nancy Kline's "Thinking Partnerships" (see her book "Time to Think" - an excellent read at the best of times)
Like most people reading this I have lost my income, as my business has been shut down by the government and my occupational safety work has been postponed along with my creative projects. I am moving my sport therapy self-help online (which may be useful to some of you) But what I would like to share with you is a space I created to talk, connect and take a 10 minute guided time-out session. Yes! you read correctly. With all this mayhem I created a 10 minute session to help focus the mind for productivity. Click the image and let me know what you think... its free as are my advice, chats, podcasts and resources - It's my way of giving you a hug x
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