Simon Gilbert

Location: Emsworth , Hants. 

Name: Simon Gilbert

Business Name: Simon Gilbert Limited

My name is Simon Gilbert. My whole working life has been in the furniture supply industry. I worked in UK manufacturing until I set up my own consultancy and agency business 15 years ago. 

Primarily, I source furniture from the UK and the Far East and sell it to retail furniture stores throughout the UK. 

The business is just myself and my wife, but our work helps to keep people employed at my suppliers and customers’ businesses. 

The Covid19 lockdown has shut the retail furniture industry down completely; the shops cannot open, cannot take orders and cannot deliver, so there is simply no supply line in operation while the lockdown applies; and it will take some months to fully re-establish it following the lifting of lockdown. 

I completely understand the need for the lockdown measures , but also feel that government( ultimately taxpayer ) support is necessary in order to retain the resilience in the economy which will be needed in order to revive it and repay the costs incurred . 

I have been able to use the furlough scheme for the small part of my income which is through PAYE. The remainder I pay via a dividend, which is naturally variable in line with the business. 

The trade effectively closed down in early March because travel was becoming so difficult, so I am into my third month with little or no income. 

I have cut back as much as I can and realise that many people are doing the same, but I cannot do that indefinitely, particularly when payment holidays, etc start to be lifted. 

There is intense frustration caused by the refusal of the government to assist directors of small limited companies – people who are not massive earners; they are simply people making a normal living for themselves, and paying via dividends. There is very little tax-saving and what there is, is more than made up for by the costs of VAT collection, accounting, and lack of any holiday or sick pay. 

I have no complaint about my circumstances – I chose them, but I will not accept that there is any argument for singling us (and some other groups ) to be collateral damage. 

The government has used misleading and untrue arguments against our case and that is causing intense distrust as well as extreme strain upon individuals. 

I want to get through this period, and then help rebuild the economy; including by paying higher taxation rates, which no doubt we will not be excluded from!!