Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Thursday introduced an extension to the furlough scheme, which has been a lifeline for companies throughout the UK. Companies will now be capable to furlough employees on 80% of their salaries till March subsequent yr. The Guardian spoke to small enterprise homeowners about what it means for them.
Hayley Mountjoy-Hicks, magnificence salon proprietor, Gloucestershire
‘We wouldn’t handle with out it’
For 35-year-old Hayley Mountjoy-Hicks, the announcement of a second lockdown in England was devastating.
“This yr has been so tough,” she mentioned. “We have now such excessive overheads with lease, and I haven’t been incomes any revenue in any respect. We’ve had to purchase PPE, and fixed cleansing within the salon has meant we want extra time between appointments, so we’ve missed out on shoppers. If it goes on for for much longer, it’s very worrying for the survival of the enterprise.”
Mountjoy-Hicks furloughed her apprentice, her solely worker, at her salon in Tetbury through the first nationwide lockdown, and did the identical once more on Thursday. She welcomed the chancellor’s announcement.
“It’s completely obligatory particularly if we’re not allowed to open on 2 December,” she mentioned. “We wouldn’t handle with out it.”
Nicola Ferjani, smooth play centre proprietor, Southampton
‘I’m grateful for the help’
“The announcement about furlough was definitely useful, but additionally reveals me that that is going to go on for lots longer than I used to be anticipating, so in some methods it’s a little bit of a blow,” mentioned Nicola Ferjani, 46, who owns a smooth play centre in Southampton.
She furloughed all 10 of her workers over the past lockdown and can do the identical through the second.
Ferjani mentioned the lockdown was “extraordinarily worrying” for her enterprise, describing it as an “abyss”.
“We had been working on a deficit after the final lockdown, and after we reopened on 16 August we had been solely at 30% capability due to social distancing, so we weren’t even breaking even,” she mentioned. “Play centres are very seasonal as a result of extra individuals play outdoors in the summertime, so we generate cash by way of the winter to see us by way of however we’re no longer in a position to try this.
“We did have preliminary conversations about redundancies, however you may have to have the ability to afford redundancies,” she added. “We’re simply going to experience it out till the pot goes dry.”
Andrew McAllister, swim teaching enterprise proprietor, Manchester and London
‘My workforce might be getting 50% of what they now earn’
Andrew McAllister has been pressured to make 5 redundancies through the pandemic from his enterprise, and has furloughed his remaining 10 employees.
Whereas he praised the scheme for serving to him to keep up most of his employees, McAllister, who’s 34, raised considerations in regards to the calculation for the 80% of wages the federal government can pay.
“Lots of my employees members began in January, and we have now an extended coaching course of, throughout which they’re paid a barely decrease wage,” he mentioned. “Over the past lockdown, the furlough scheme was primarily based on their wages throughout that interval, however since we reopened over the summer season they’ve earned good cash with us teaching classes. If the furlough scheme doesn’t account for that, they’ll be incomes about 50% of what they’ve been paid over the previous three months.”
McAllister mentioned that closure throughout a second lockdown was “extremely irritating”. He’d be planning to increase his enterprise to 2 new areas this week within the south of England.
“I’m vastly involved that the longer the delay in reopening, the higher the prospect some swimming swimming pools could by no means reopen.”
Malik Aslan, Vape store proprietor, Watford and Excessive Wycombe
‘We used to have a turnover of round £15,000 per 30 days in every store, and that’s dropped to 5 – 6 thousand’
Malik Aslan, who runs two vape outlets within the Hertfordshire city of Watford and Excessive Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, “one way or the other survived” the primary lockdown, however was pressured to pour his financial savings into the enterprise. He acquired a authorities grant of £10,000 and furloughed his 4 workers, however mentioned this didn’t make up the misplaced revenue.
Over the past lockdown, 37-year-old Aslan paid for 20% of his workers’ salaries on prime of the furlough scheme, however mentioned he can’t afford to do the identical this time round.
“We used to have a turnover of round £15,000 per 30 days in every store, and that’s dropped to 5 – 6 thousand,” he mentioned. “It’s very, very laborious in the mean time.”
With out the furlough scheme, Aslan mentioned he wouldn’t have been in a position to maintain his employees on, and that the extension would assist.
Martin Jones, bar proprietor, Cardiff
‘We’ve been forgotten’
For some companies, nevertheless, Rishi Sunak’s announcement didn’t change something.
Martin Jones, 52, owns the Major Stage bar in Cardiff’s metropolis centre. He took over the bar from its earlier proprietor in July, making him ineligible for the furlough scheme, regardless of the bar present for a few years earlier than.
“The bar used to make use of 12 employees, however after we took it over we needed to lay off all however 5, together with myself. I’m frightened for my employees. They’ve lease and payments to pay.”
The 2-week “circuit breaker” lockdown in Wales, which started on 23 October, pressured the bar to shut, and whereas it is because of reopen on Monday, it should shut at 10pm. Additionally, solely 4 individuals are allowed per desk, in contrast to the six allowed in England. Jones mentioned he expects additional lockdown measures.
“Earlier than we took over, the bar would take between £10,000 and £12,000 every week through the summer season, however with the 10pm curfew we’re struggling to take £2,500,” he mentioned. “It covers the price of shopping for in beer and wages, and nearly pays a few payments, however not all of them.
“I’m not frightened abut making earnings, I simply need to survive. I need to come out of this and nonetheless have a enterprise, and for workers to nonetheless have a job. To me, it’s a really unfair system. We’ve been left behind and forgotten about.”