Rishi Sunak’s “unprecedented” bailout of businesses, announced on Friday 20 March has thrown five million self-employed people under one of Boris’ fictional buses, in spite of his promise to do “Whatever it takes” to secure the livelihoods of the British people and help them do the right thing in the wake of the Corona pandemic. In the 4th industrial age, self-employed people, gig economy workers, digital nomads, zero hours workers et al. do not fit into tidy employment categories. These people make up some 15% of the UK working population at 5 million people and contribute £305 billion to the UK economy. They are left outside alone from Johnson’s catchy headlines. They are the nation’s self-starters and entrepreneurs who contribute to our net wealth and who Johnson claims are the future of Britain under Brexit, so why would he treat them in this way? Are they too part of the generation of people who must take it on the chin?
Holly Henderson is an extremely talented singer songwriter who has just done the right thing for her country, by cancelling her US and UK tours, because of her views on our “co-dependency”. Taking this moral decision deprives her of an income as a young person. Nonetheless, she took the hit. She was also viciously attacked for calling out the irresponsible behaviour of English Corona Deniers, who insisted that it was their right to put others’ lives at risk by going to pubs on Friday night for a “final pint of Corona”.
“We share this planet and we are therefore all in it together. We must however be supported for doing the right thing. Government have a unique opportunity to show the way here.”
At the personal end of the spectrum, I had £30 000 of work cancelled due to international travel restrictions by my clients. Whilst I fundamentally agree with the principled decisions taken by his clients, as a Limited Company, I stand to maybe get £94 on universal credit with a family to feed and a business to run from being thrown under a bus by Johnson’s “Whatever It Takes” strategy.
“In my business life I teach people to align their behaviour with principles and values for a more sustainable world. It’s a lesson that Boris Johnson must learn if we are to save lives and reach out for a better Britain in a connected world. People currently feel threatened at the most basic level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – food, shelter and so on. Some people do not rationalise and make logical decisions at this level. Rishi and Johnson need to employ a bit of “tough love” – encouraging people to act in ways more consistent with saving lives, by looking after their basic needs at this unprecedented time, and also to discourage bad behaviour by making a few more helpful rules to live by.”
Anabelle is a tantric sex practitioner, one of thousands of sex workers. She is a separated mum of three, living with her partner who has responsibility for other kids, so she is the breadwinner. Many sex workers are mothers, and all are self-employed.
“I had a really successful business comfortably banking £4 K a month. Obviously, I couldn’t continue to work in this way and be socially responsible. I cancelled a month’s worth of bookings and have no guaranteed source of income. How many thousands of men will STILL visit sex workers and take this virus home to their families because the women are self-employed and in a stigmatised industry. Of course, sex work isn’t the only hands on “intimate” work women do. We are also beauty therapists, nail technicians, massage therapists etc. All these professions and more, largely done by women, often from their own homes are closing. Each of these women have children to feed and clothe. Boris Johnson only ever talks about “great British companies” i.e. those run by men in suits.”
From Sex, through to Business and Rock’n’Roll, self-employment is an area of life that needs to be properly supported in these unprecedented times. Self-employed people in the UK range from hairdressers, therapists, TEFL teachers, event organisers, peripatetic music teachers, gym instructors, chauffeurs, taxi drivers and so on.
If people’s behaviour during COVID-19 is to be correct, this is a time for our political leaders to step up to the plate and help ensure that people are not forced into continuing to work when they must act differently.