Andy Colvin, a resident of Kilmarnock, says many who are self-employed are not getting the support they need. Andy highlights the case of his friend, Sandy Hillan, who has been at the heart of the community response to the crisis but is under severe financial pressure personally.
I’M getting a little tired with announcements on supporting the self employed work themselves out of the Covid-19 pandemic. Below is just one example of the challenge a lot of self employed workers are now facing – Sandy Hillan.
You might recognise the name, as Sandy is a Driving Instructor in Kilmarnock who organised for community deliveries to be made right at the outset. When his business collapsed overnight, he got others organised to help people in need and still provide the backbone to a couple of the Community Resilience Groups in Kilmarnock – unsung heroes, without a lobbying firm behind them.
We’ve all heard the nice words and huge figures involved about support for the self-employed, but here’s Sandy’s reality:
The government has supplied money for grants to small businesses, however this isn’t available for most self employed. Grants are allocated to businesses with premises and/or employees. But if you look at the makeup of self employed people, a lot don’t have premises. Many work from their homes/cars/vans or rent chairs in other business’ premises.
The group who set up the Kilmarnock Local Coronavirus Network are all driving instructors and self employed hairdressers. Eight people in total. All self employed. They don’t qualify for grants, they haven’t heard back from business interruption loan scheme, and they don’t qualify for Universal Credit as their partners income is taken into account. And none of them have been shown any sort of flexibility at the local level.
In Sandy’s case, the government has said he will be entitled to 80 per cent of his profits. Which he is thankful for – when it arrives. But the reality is this won’t really help. Sandy’s business turnover is around £46,000, his profit is around £14,000-£16,000. If profit works out at £1,250 per month, 80 per cent of this is around £1,000.
The government is also saying that he will get payment holidays from banks and finance companies. Right now, Sandy has finance with ‘MINI Financial Services’ and he runs a manual and automatic car. The manual car is £367 per month, the automatic car is £411 per month. MINI Finance is refusing payment holiday as they say this is only a recommendation. Sandy’s insurance is £295 per month – no payment holidays.
So already Sandy has a shortfall of £73, if and when he receives the 80 per cent in self-employed support. Sandy’s wife is furloughed so they are down 20 per cent of her wages and not one of their household bills have helped them in any way.
As it stands, Sandy has had to cancel all direct debits and the family are now receiving debt letters, which say they have marked this onto their credit files.
Sandy recognises and is willing to pay the price financially but crushed the impact this will have on his future finance and opportunities because his business has been thrown into turmoil.
This is a story repeated by many others across the country who are now wondering if they will survive without their means of business being repossessed. Sandy has already told his finance companies to come and collect his cars.
Also many hairdressers, barbers and driving instructors work in very close contact environments and we will no doubt be affected for a far greater length of time than garages, joiners and plumbers.
This is a forgotten group and they feel not only forgotten but abandoned. It would be nice to see some of their voices on the Scottish Government’s Economic Advisory Group
Picture: Kilmarnock’s Urban Horizon