Self-employed workers were among the hardest hit by coronavirus but despite this, new research showed many freelancers and SMEs are concerned about the economy reopening from tomorrow. From July 19, dubbed by many to be “freedom day”, the majority of lockdown restrictions will be eased and this prospect is creating unease among many workers.
Recently, Simply Business, the small business insurance provider, surveyed 936 small business owners from across the UK.
The results of this survey highlighted “mixed feelings” for freedom day among SMEs and the self-employed.
Over half (53 percent) of those polled believe social distancing restrictions are being lifted too soon and risk another lockdown.
The concern is so great, almost one in three (30 percent) small business owners will retain social distancing and reduced capacity within their businesses.
Alan Thomas, the UK CEO at Simply Business, commented on these results.
Mr Thomas said: “No business, big or small, has been able to escape the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Sixteen months of restrictions, lockdowns, and uncertainty were always likely to take their toll.
“But the scale of the impact felt by the self-employed is abundantly clear from our latest research which shows Covid-19 will cost SMEs an estimated £126.6billion – double what owners predicted it would cost them when asked a year ago.
“Small business owners’ hopes for freedom day are at risk of turning to fears, with over half of SMEs saying restrictions are being lifted too soon.
“Given the rising number of cases, it comes as no surprise that there are strong calls for clearer guidance on how to safely manage a full reopening of businesses.
“Small business owners need clear, consistent guidelines but the onus on personal responsibility breeds confusion.
“SMEs aren’t public health experts with the ability to gauge the threat of a disease.
“SMEs account for over 99 percent of all British businesses and contribute £2trillion to our economy every year. They’ve been among the hardest hit by Covid-19 lockdowns and will prove central to our collective economic recovery.
“With one in 10 small business owners not confident in resuming trading after 19 July, it’s vital that we support small businesses through this latest – and possibly confusing – period of recovery from the pandemic.”
While it remains to be seen how businesses cope following freedom day, it should be remembered self-employed workers can continue to receive support through SEISS until the Autumn.
SEISS claims for the fifth set of grants can be made from late July onwards.
Support from SEISS will be available until September 30, 2021.