Swindon media consultant and journalist Fiona Scott has become the South West ambassador for the campaigning group #forgottenltd which has thousands of members representing business owners who have been excluded from government support.
What started as a social media movement has gone on become a voice for thousands of small limited company directors affected by the coronavirus pandemic – from beauticians, to hairdressers, to plumbers, electricians, book-keepers, business coaches to marketing professionals and many more.
Working with the founders, Fiona is now compiling case studies of businesses across the region who are a§ffected by this to share their stories and keep up the pressure on government to deal with all businesses in a fair and equitable manner.
She said, “When this started we all thought we were ‘in it together’ however it soon became clear to business owners like me that we actually are not. A decision has been made to ignore those business owners who pay their salaries through a low wage and top up with dividends. This is a perfectly legitimate course of action recommended by accountants throughout the land – and, in the past, supported by governments.
“Now we are excluded. We cannot furlough ourselves because that means we cannot keep our businesses running under the restrictions – and 80 per cent of our small salary is not enough to live on. Some of us have staff on furlough, no income, fixed costs and no personal funds. We have lobbied our own MPs and the Chancellor who is not listening.”
The campaign group is hoping to force a parliamentary debate on the issue by collating 100,000 signatures on a petition – and will continue to highlight the inequality faced by small business owners throughout England.
“We fear a storm is coming,” Fiona said. “On one day alone last week one of our members in HR did over 40 consultations for redundancy. The lack of support and lack of income for small business owners, particularly those with staff, means that when furloughing support drops there will be redundancies across the board.”
Fiona’s own media consultancy, set up in 2008, has suffered a 40 per cent drop in turnover during lockdown. Fiona’s business supports three other freelance professionals.
“There are many far worse off than me,” Fiona said. “I have been able to continue to work and earn even though some clients cannot pay me anything because their business has shut down overnight. I’ve had to be flexible to survive. If I owned a hair salon, or a clinic or any business which required me to have close personal contact with others, I would have been finished. Indeed many are or know they will be over the coming weeks without support.”
If you are affected by this and want to feature as a case study, please email Fiona on firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. You can find out more about the campaign here: forgottenltd.com