Coronavirus update 21 March 2020

How are you all doing?

These are some of the measures announced by the Chancellor yesterday.  It’s not the full list, just those we think will be of interest to our members.

Specifically for self-employed –
• Self Assessment payments deferred to January 2021
• Self employed can apply for Universal Credit now – the minimum income floor has been suspended
• Quicker and easier access to benefit support during the coronavirus emergency
• Working Tax credits increased by £1000
Other items–
• 3 month mortgage payment suspension
• Housing Benefit minimum increased
• Support for renters
• No eviction for 3  months for private renters unable to pay rent
• Universal credit allowance increased by £1,000

Like most of you, we don’t think there is enough beingn done for the self-employed, and will be doing what we can to lobby for more.  We are aware that already some ADIs have been writing to your MPs, and we would urge you to do the same.  We do think more will happen in the next few days, but we need to make our feelings known.  We will be working with our NASP partners to take this to the highest level.

You can find out who your MP is, and what their email address is, by using this link – https://members.parliament.uk/members/Commons.  It will also show you if your MP has a website, or a Twitter, or Facebook account, all of which are useful ways to tell them what you think.  We give examples of a couple of texts that you could use, although if you can write your own that would be good too.  They will often take more notice of an individual email than one that looks the same as a dozen others they’ve received.  And of course you could do a pic ‘n mix!

Example 1 –
Dear
I am writing to ask you for your support in getting financial help for the self-employed.  I am a self-employed driving instructor, there are 40,000 of us in the UK, all of whom run our own businesses, and are suffering because of the current coronavirus.
We have all been told to keep social distancing, this is difficult in a car as you can imagine.  Many of our students have, understandably, over the last few weeks, cancelled their lessons.  instructors therefore have already suffered a loss of income.  Yesterday the DVSA took the decision to cancel all tests for 3 months, quoting the risks to examiners. We can understand the need.  But because there are no tests, learners don’t want to take lessons and people have no work.  Or they are continuing to work, putting themselves and others at risk, because they cannot afford not to work.
Yesterday the Prime Minister announced 80% guaranteed subsidy for those in work.  I understand totally the need to keep businesses afloat because we will need them when this is all over.  And the self-employed can apply for SSP – less than £100 a week to feed their families.  Let alone pay for their car, franchise fee etc.  Many lease their cars, some companies have been sympathetic on payments.  Some are in franchises that expect them to honour their contract, even though they now have no work.  People are desperate.
I implore you to lend your support to the self-employed.  We need to have the same deal that any employee has been given – 80% of our income.  HMRC knows how much tax we have paid in over the years, they know what our income has been.  I don’t accept it’s more difficult to pay the self-employed, do it through the tax system.

Please do what you can to lend us your support.
Example 2 –
I apologise for emailing you directly and I appreciate that your work load right now must be exhausting. However I am writing to implore you to investigate whether there is any more you can do to help the self-employed during this extraordinary time.

I am a driving instructor. We are all self-employed. We all have high expenses vs income as we have car leasing/franchise costs, insurance etc. We have all been experiencing a drop in income due to concerns over Covid-19, students are self- isolating for a variety of reasons and therefore are cancelling their regular lessons.

Tonight the DVSA announced that practical tests are postponed for up to 3 months, ‘because there is extended contact between driving instructors, pupils and examiners in vehicles during tests’. This is leading to even more students cancelling their planned lessons. The extended contact is a real concern for instructors, social distancing is not possible in the car. The sensible thing would be for lessons to stop for all of our safety. However ESA won’t even cover our committed costs, never mind pay the bills and put food on the table. Instructors are taking risks, potentially with their lives, because they simply cannot afford to stop teaching, they are clinging to every remaining hour of tuition they can despite the potential risks. We are in desperate need of help so that we can stay home without fear of how we will make ends meet and ensure that our businesses are viable once this crisis is over.

The self-employed are largely independent, we receive little in benefits yet we contribute greatly to society. We provide essential services and we pay our taxes. We are mini-entrepreneurs who run our own businesses and help to keep unemployment levels down. In normal times we ask for little, but these times are anything but normal.

This situation is terrifying, not least due to the risk of the virus, and I implore you to help, the entire driver training industry is about to implode.

The NJC continues to be dedicated to help you in these challenging times and we hope you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy.  Please feel free to contact us for help and support.

You can sign up to receive Government updates on Coronavirus relating to driving tests here.

ADINJC’s helpline is 0800 8202 444

The Secretary’s number is 07855 453414

You can find the latest NASP guidelines on Coronavirus here.

 

The ADINJC is a national association run by ADIs on a not-for-profit basis.  We work tirelessly to inform, represent and support our members, and to promote the interests of our profession.