Another blog on CoronaVirus

March 20, 2020 - 11:00am

Another blog on CoronaVirus

I wrote about this subject last week. The huge impact the Coronavirus has had on the stock market but also the significant impact it is already having on small businesses, including our local Chamber of Commerce members. We have seen the government release a reported £330bn support package of interventions for businesses big and small. I won't speak about this today, but that is certainly an area the Chamber can support our members, to ensure you know what support you can access to help you through these unprecedented challenging times.

This blog aims to highlight a concerning trend I have witnesses over the past few days, the trend of cancellation. I am lucky enough to have a regular salary through my role at Lancaster University in addition to other revenue streams. That means I have a (relatively) guaranteed income over the coming weeks, months, and years. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, unemployment in the UK was a meager 3.9% with economic inactivity at 20.4%. Economic activity measures people without a job but are not actively seeking work. That means 75.7% of the UK working population are in work (source Office for National Statistics), of which roughly 15% are self-employed and 3% are on zero-hours contracts. That means roughly 62% of the UK working population are in salaried roles.

If you are in a salaried role, then you have a degree of security that unless your employer goes bust immediately, you have a realistic expectation that you will be paid this month and next month. If your income is relatively secure, my plea to you is to keep paying and stop canceling. Keep paying for your children's music lessons, ballet school, football coaching, and childcare. Keep buying food from your local restaurants and pubs (many are going to take away only, so keep buying from them). Don't cancel your booking and demand a refund from a hotel you are due to stay at in June or a cottage you booked in July just yet. Speak to the owner and see if you can defer a decision and move the date nearer the time.

Don't cancel your conference or exhibition place for later in the year. Speak to the company about deferring the place if it gets rearranged. All of these minor outgoings create an income for other business owners and workers in the gig economy. If all 62% of you that have a relatively secure income pull in the drawbridges and stop spending, you will put thousands of companies and gig economy workers out of business. Where you can keep spending, even if your children can't attend the class, you don't have certainty about the trip or make small adjustments like changing your weekly meal out to takeaway collection from your favourite restaurant. As I said last week, make balanced decisions and don't give in to the fear.