Taunton business-owner says he is close to losing his home because he has no income and no government Covid-19 support

  • Report by Somerset Correspondent, Ben McGrail

A Taunton business-owner says he is close to losing his home because he has no income and no government support.

Jeremy Damsell says he does not qualify for any of the coronavirus grants and is one of the so-called ‘Forgotten Limited’ companies.

He runs a law consultancy company from his home in Taunton called Broadscope Limited.

I just would like to be seen as being equal to the support that the self-employed are getting.

Jeremy Damsell

As his business income changes from one month to the next, he receives a small salary and the rest comes from profits.

He says he fears he and his wife may need to move out of their rented home.

He adds: "It’s led to an 80% drop in my income. I’m relying on the £570 a month of the furlough from the government but before too much longer we will have to seriously consider whether we can continue to stay in the current property.

"I’m probably the furthest you can get from being the multi-millionaire so-called fat cat type of owner/director. I like to consider myself to be an average, hard-working person and I’m left feeling that really nobody wants to listen because of the assumption that we don’t need it. But we do - and we need it yesterday."

There are around two million limited companies in the UK, many small businesses - such as plumbers

There are around two million businesses like Jeremy’s in the UK, many of them small like child minders and plumbers.

Because they are limited companies, they are not eligible for the self-employment income scheme. Many have kept operating, making them ineligible for furloughing.

Jeremy also does not qualify for a discretionary grant from his local authority, Somerset West & Taunton Council, because they do not consider home-based businesses, even though some local authorities do.

We only had a limited pot so we had to look at the businesses that were out there, try and work out what grants we’d be getting and then try and make a decision. That was the only decision we could make at that time.

Cllr Marcus Kravis, Somerset West & Taunton Council
Fiona Scott is a member of the campaign group 'Forgotten Limited' Credit: Fiona Scott

Fiona Scott, from Swindon, is another who does not qualify for support. She is involved with a campaign called Forgotten Limited.

She says: "The public probably doesn’t realise that their local hairdresser, their local gardener, web designer, graphic designer is probably getting no support right now. There’s no money for food on the table.

"We may be micro business and small business owners but we employ millions of people and the potential for job losses is huge. We had a member only a couple of weeks ago who did over forty consultations for redundancy in one single day."

Jeremy Damsell fears what impact not supporting businesses like his may have on the economy long-term. Credit: Jeremy Damsell

Whilst he considers his future, Jeremy Damsell also fears the knock-on effect for the whole country if companies like his aren’t supported now.

He said: "If my business and hundreds of thousands like mine go to the wall there’s going to be a huge gap and shortfall in the government’s tax take. It seems backward-thinking to me."

A government spokesperson said: "We understand that times are hard for many small businesses and we are working incredibly hard to provide a wide-ranging package of support.

"There are a number of options available to small company directors, including the Job Retention scheme, Bounce Back Loans to cover company costs and Self-Employed Income Support for sole traders.”