Businesses across the South West are being urged to join the fight to save jobs across the region.
The rallying call is part of a national campaign, #ForgottenLtd, to put pressure on the government to provide vital support for small businesses ‘forgotten’ during the pandemic.
Thousands of small businesses across the South West are still at risk of going under or slashing jobs if they don’t receive the urgent financial support they need from the Government to stay afloat.
Despite the announcement of support packages being created for businesses in the wake of the pandemic, thousands of directors of small limited companies have slipped through the financial support cracks and are now fighting for survival.
The #ForgottenLtd Campaign exists to raise awareness of the lack of meaningful government support for the small business community across the UK.
Media consultant and journalist Fiona Scott, who is the South West ambassador for the campaign group, is calling on the government to address this disparity by extending COVID-19 support packages to those businesses left behind.
"When this started, we all thought we were 'in it together' – however, it soon became clear to business owners like me that we actually are not,” said Fiona.
“A decision has been made to ignore those business owners who pay their salaries through a low wage and top up with dividends. This is a perfectly legitimate course of action recommended by accountants throughout the land - and, in the past, supported by governments.
"Now we are excluded. We cannot furlough ourselves because that means we cannot keep our businesses running under the restrictions - and 80 per cent of our small salary is not enough to live on. Some of us have staff on furlough, no income, fixed costs and no personal funds. We have lobbied our own MPs and the Chancellor who is not listening."
The #ForgottenLtd campaign initially started as a social media movement but has become the voice for thousands of small limited company directors affected by the coronavirus pandemic - from beauticians and bookkeepers, plumbers, electricians, business coaches, artists, actors, musicians, marketing professionals and many more.
Working with the founders of the campaign, Fiona is calling for businesses across the region that are affected to share their stories and keep up the pressure on government to deal with all businesses in a fair and equitable manner.
The campaign group is hoping to force a parliamentary debate on the issue by collating 100,000 signatures on a petition - and will continue to highlight the inequality faced by small business owners.
"We fear a storm is coming," Fiona said. "On one day alone last week one of our members in HR did over 40 consultations for redundancy. The lack of support and lack of income for small business owners, particularly those with staff, means that when furloughing support drops there will be redundancies across the board."
Fiona's own media consultancy, set up in 2008, has suffered a 40 percent drop in turnover during lockdown and supports three other freelance professionals.
"There are many far worse off than me," Fiona said. "I have been able to continue to work and earn even, though some clients cannot pay me anything because their business has shut down overnight. I've had to be flexible to survive.
"If I owned a hair salon, or a clinic or any business which required me to have close personal contact with others, I would have been finished.
"Indeed, many are or know they will be over the coming weeks without support. It’s just heartbreaking and we all need to come together to turn the tide and get the support needed to stay afloat."
To find out more about the campaign visit https://forgottenltd.com