Real People

Location: Norwich, Norfolk

Name: Nicci Grimmer

Business Name: The Barn Beauty Rooms

We have been trading for 3 years in the beauty industry. Providing 14 self-employed jobs for beauty therapists and complementary therapists along with domestic support. We established the business as a limited company on the advice of our accountant. Alice and I are employed by the company as directors and take a wage and dividends to make up our income. Unfortunately, our dividend income is not covered by the government support and this makes up a large part of our income. We pay personal tax, corporation tax, VAT, NI and pension contributions.

Due to the close contact nature of our business we are unable to open the salon or work from home. We have managed to secure a grant from the local authority which has helped to pay the rent and other overheads. We are secure until July but at that point may have to consider our position if we are unable to get the business up and running again and no further support is introduced.

I personally have felt extremely disheartened by the situation that the government have forgotten company directors who provide many jobs. I also feel annoyed that if we are furloughed that we are unable to generate income via product sales or vouchers to support the business slightly for everyone to come back to.

Location: Mill Hill, London

Name: Nicola Koutsios

Business Name: West + Fenton Consultancy Limited

I had recently started a contract as a Project Manager within the Hospitality sector. As soon as pubs and bars were asked to shut their doors all contractors were given their 2 weeks notice and contracts cut short. In times of financial hardship, projects are the first thing to be halted. I honestly don’t know if I will manage to secure another role before the end of the year due to the lack of projects and the demand for these roles.

As a Director I have only been receiving £575 / month on the furlough scheme. Of this: £200 goes straight back into my business to pay my monthly accountancy fees and insurance. Through my business I pay corporation tax, VAT and personal tax. We deserve to be treated fairly! I have lost all faith in our government.

My husband is also self-employed and as of yet has not received a penny. So as a household we are expected to pay all our bills and live on £375!


Location: Leicestershire

Name: Phil and Philippa Lurcock

Business Name: Phormular Limited

  • We have run our previously thriving exhibition design and installation business for 10 years
  • We employ 4 people in addition to ourselves, as well as numerous regular contractors and freelancers.
  • In March, the exhibition industry was shut down to Covid-19.

Every job we had booked for 2020 was cancelled while social distancing measures are in force and our new business pipeline has completely shut down.

The majority of our installations take place at Excel and the NEC which are currently redeployed as Nightingale Hospitals. As a result, we currently have no income projected for this financial year, as we await the eventual loosening of social distancing measures and our industries’ return to capacity.

We are ineligible for any support from the government for our business:
We rent an industrial unit with a ratable value of £15500, pushing us just over the threshold for the small business grant fund and we receive no rate relief.

In spite of numerous promises on record to include the exhibition and events industry in the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grant fund, Rishi Sunk has not done so.

We cannot both furlough ourselves as we chose to accept a small contract to design and install vaccine testing stations for the UK Coronavirus Vaccine taskforce which while reaps minimal profit, presents a more worthwhile use of our time than furlough. We must also stay active within the business communicating with suppliers and clients in order to ready ourselves for the upturn

We have applied for a bounce back loan which will help clear the debt we’ve accrued from covering our overheads using personal borrowing since being forced to effectively cease trading at the end of February. It may be enough to cover the month or so of rent and rates.Our commercial landlords are being understanding to a degree, but they won’t allow us to defer until events and exhibitions are back to capacity. We’re facing the very real prospect of having to give up our lease. This is a huge concern since units that size in our location are extremely rare, also we have an industrial unit full specialist exhibition hire stock we own outright, not to mention the forklift, workshop machinery and office equipment etc. If we don’t have a use for it until Excel and the NEC returns to the industry, no one else will so there’s not much likelihood of a successful fire sale on that score. Moreover, we don’t want to!

I feel physically sick at the thought of our previously thriving business faces this potential decimation through absolutely no error of our own. There’s no possibility that we’ll be able to match 40% of the salaries of our employees come July so the next step may be deciding the most cost-effective ways of letting employees go.

We have no meaningful financial support for our business or young family and are forced to take on debt to make ends meet. The mental and emotional toll is significant on top of the already challenging times.

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!! 


Name: Tracy Bedwell

Business Name: Sales Training International Ltd

We are a training and consultancy company, trading for 20 years. We employ 2 staff and use a regular 20 associates. Covid 19 has stopped all business, all that was on the books has cancelled and we are struggling to secure anything new. We are not eligible for any financial support for the business or personally. We operate from home, so no grant. We file annual PAYE end of March so we can’t furlough. We can’t claim UC as we have a university fund for our daughter which has £17,000 in it – we have been adding £200 a month since she was born.  

We are living on zero income. The businesses bills that I can’t cancel come to £800 a month. Our personal bills (inc food) come to £2500. We don’t expect our situation to change until next year by which time the university fund will have gone and god knows what we will do? 

Changing the rules for annual PAYE would be a massive help to us, that with allowing us to try and win business would be a lifeline.