My last event was on the 14th of March.
Just as this nightmare was kicking off, I made the decision to quickly sign up for Universal Credit. I really didn’t want to do it but I didn’t really have a choice. A lot of other DJs made decisions to wait until the Chancellor would make an announcement to help protect their income as he had done for employed people, but it just took too long, and even when the announcement came, the help wasn’t that fantastic and so many people weren’t eligible for the many grants and loans that had been made available.
Then the cancellations started rolling in.
Customers re-scheduling their weddings and events, two or three times.
Some ignored my advice and held out, just on the off-chance this would be a five-minute wonder. How wrong they were. When they then got in contact to move their date, I wasn’t available and now they want their deposits refunded.
As if that wasn’t enough, on the 5th of May, I tested positive for Coronavirus. It knocked me out for a couple of weeks but during that time so many negative thoughts were going through my mind, wondering if I would become another statistic on the daily briefings of those who had sadly died. Would I ever see my daughter again? Luckily, for me, it was no more than a bad flu and that left me feeling very lucky indeed.
As it stands, 10 events have been cancelled at a cost of over £4500 in lost income.
An additional 44 events have been rescheduled to next year totalling £19,500. These events have taken up key dates in 2021 which basically means I’ve lost an entire summer-season of income. I still have 25 events this year to come and a very busy Christmas season. Well, maybe not so busy any more with an estimated additional total loss of around £7,000.
Away from the business, I am struggling to pay my rent. The housing benefit I get with my Universal Credit covers about 60% of my monthly rent commitment, and I get even less now because of the bedroom tax. If I paid my rent in full each month, I would have £125 left for the month out of which I need to pay council tax, utilities and food.
I took the decision to pay 50% of my rent and have done this each month since March. This was agreed in principle with the letting agent and the landlord. Unfortunately, due to the easing of lockdown and many industries being allowed to get back to work, they think I can start paying my rent again from next month.
Eviction protection currently ends on the 23rd August so I could get my 3-months notice the very next day. From a reasonably thriving business at the start of the year to potentially being homeless by the end of the summer. What a great year 2020 has turned out to be.
I haven’t claimed any bounceback loans or the SEISS grant because it didn’t work for me. Additionally, I didn’t want to put myself further in debt.
I am behind on most of my bills, my phone, credit card and child maintenance. How long will it be before the bailiffs start knocking on my door?
I think the Government have made the best of a bad job. This is a completely unique situation that no Government has gone through before in modern times. I would like to see financial support extended throughout Winter, but also to protect those who are newly self-employed.
I want to get back to work when it is safe to do so. Not just for me, but for all of my customers, their families, other wedding suppliers and venues.
To all DJs…keep strong, be aware of your own mental health and that of your family. We’ll get through this.