A dad of four who has been on furlough during the coronavirus lockdown says he has been left with just £600 a month to support his family.
Jonathan Mank says the government’s coronavirus income support scheme has failed him as he’s ‘fallen through the cracks’.
The wedding photographer – who co-owns PM Photography in Lincoln – had to furlough himself to have a source of income when the lockdown saw work dwindle.
But the way that income is calculated in the government-designed system means he’s struggling to make ends meet, reports LincolshireLive.
The 48-year old said: “Back in March, when the government put us into lockdown, we were told at around 6pm that day that the following days wedding had been postponed.
“I’ve had no business since the last weekend of February.
“In the last five years, we’ve average over 60 weddings a year and this year, almost every single customer from March through to July has either rearranged or cancelled their wedding.
“I’ve also had a large proportion of customers who had weddings in August and September who have chosen to rearrange their weddings, regardless of the latest announcement.”
Usually, Jonathan – as the director of a limited company – pays himself a small salary, supplementing his income with self-awarded dividends.
But he didn’t qualify for the government’s self-employment income support scheme, so when lockdown stopped his work, the furlough option was the only way to guarantee a source of income.
The way the scheme is designed, it takes account of an employee’s salary only, not any dividends they are paid. This means that Jonathan’s income was calculated at a much lower level.
He said: “As the director of a small limited company, I pay myself through dividends which under this government support scheme does not class as a wage, yet ironically they are more than happy to tax me for it and it can be accepted as a salary on a mortgage.
“This has meant that I am now on furlough with a very small wage, £600 a month to pay my mortgage, all bills and feed a family of four, and I’m not allowed to work to keep my business going.
“By following the rules and doing the honourable thing, I’ve been left with little support.
“Some others have been left with nothing so it could be worse, but I am only looking for the same support that has been given to others, but not three million and that cannot be right.”
In the next few months, the government has said is starting to wind up the furlough scheme and Jonathan is worried about his financial security.
He said: “We now know that weddings can take place and ceremonies can have up to 30 people, but what happens at the reception, where the rules state a social gathering can only be between two households?
“A large number of customers aren’t going to want this and cancel or wait until further down the line.
“I operate primarily in the hospitality industry which has been decimated by this pandemic and is one of the industries where going back to normal may not be possible for a long time.
“Without government support, and even the furlough scheme, what do we do?”
More than three million people have reportedly ‘fallen through the cracks’ in government’s coronavirus income support schemes – including new starters, freelancers, sole traders, small limited companies and those excluded from furlough – leaving families across the UK struggling to pay their bills and keep food on the table.
Jonathan says he wants the government to show some recognition for the millions of people left behind by the income support schemes.
He said: “The famous quote from Rishi Sunak was ‘no one will be left behind’.
“There are three million of us left behind. The majority are small business owners, who are the backbone of this country.
“What do we do if there’s a 2nd spike, 3rd, 4th or 5th? We won’t survive without some kind of support.
“I think there’s public perception of company directors being big fat cats sat on hordes of money and it just isn’t true.
“We’re normal, hardworking people who need proper support.
“The really sad thing is that many companies like mine have staff that are getting furloughed, but if they are forced to close these staff will not have a job to come back to.”