I was left with no safety net from the government whatsoever

I went full time as a wedding DJ in April 2019. At the time, I’d been made suddenly redundant from my long term full-time career as a software engineer (the company went bust), and took the giant leap of faith to go it alone in an industry I’d already been a part of as a part-timer for a very long time.

2019 didn’t go quite to plan with my wife experiencing sudden and worrying health problems, but that was OK. The plan was to use 2019 to get used to being full-time self-employed and build for the 2020 wedding season. That hard work paid off and my season for 2020 was going to pay a full-time wage. Most weekends were booked with at least one wedding, some with two.

And then COVID-19 happened.

At the time I’d worked at 2 weddings, 3 adult parties and several kids parties, not bad for the first three months of the year.

I was left with no safety net from the government whatsoever.

I couldn’t approach my previous employers for furlough as they no longer existed.

I couldn’t take advantage of the SEISS scheme because I’d only been full-time self-employed for 10 months at the time of lockdown (so over 50% of my income for the previous three years was from my now-defunct full-time job).

As for Universal Credit – no chance of that as the wife works (albeit on just over minimum wage). I can’t get business rates relief because of the fact my office is at my home address and my equipment is stored in a secure storage facility where I only pay rent for the storage unit….not rates.

We’ve seen our savings (our nest egg saved over a lifetime) rapidly deplete to the extent that I’ve now had to secure a job as a supermarket delivery driver on minimum wage. It’s just keeping our heads above water, although savings are still being used for the ongoing costs associated with keeping the business running (storage, insurance, web hosting etc).

As things stand, I’ve lost an entire year’s income whilst still having to pay the associated costs with keeping the business running for when things do return to some kind of normal.

Some sort of Government help for those of us (and there are many of us) in a similar position to me would be useful if only to help to cover the costs of keeping the business alive such as proof of monthly outgoings via receipts and bank statements.

Wayne Braybrook

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