There are two million freelancers in the UK, and it's estimated that they contribute £125 billion to the nation's economy. However, the outbreak of Covid-19 is wreaking havoc on job pipelines amidst a global economic slowdown, and a lot of freelancers have been hit hard by cancelled gigs and uncertainty.
Albert Azis-Clauson, CEO and co-founder of UnderPinned, a platform that provides career management tools for freelancers, has put together some practical advice and ideas to help freelancers with their finances during these challenging times.
Taking a mortgage 'holiday' and deferring your loan repayments
If keeping food on the table and paying bills on time looks like it could be a challenge, speak to your bank. On Tuesday 17 March, banks agreed with the Chancellor that they would offer 'forbearance' (tolerance and help) on mortgages.
This means that they should all be offering anyone struggling a three-month 'holiday', giving customers a temporary break from having to make mortgage payments during this time. And it's not just mortgages – many banks will help those struggling to repay personal loans, including waiving fees for missed payments.
If you're renting, speak to your landlord
The Chancellor has sadly not yet announced direct help for renters, though he's hinted that there may be more to come in the next couple of days.
In the meantime, if you rent your home and are struggling to keep up with payments due to Covid-19 related complications, you should speak to your landlord as soon as possible to work out a plan. It has been confirmed that private tenants will not be evicted from their homes for at least three months even if struggling with their rent under emergency coronavirus legislation announced by the Housing Secretary.
Cut your costs
And cut them today. First off, make a list of everything you spend money on. Total it up and immediately cut the 10% of things that you already know you don't need. Secondly, more time indoors means that this is your opportunity to start cooking. Doing a weekly meal prep on the weekend and boxing up daily meals will not only save you a small fortune vs Pret or Deliveroo, but you'll be much healthier too.
Cancel non-essential recurring payments
Considering freezing or cancelling those payments you don't need, no matter how little they cost. The chances are that you're no longer getting value from your gym membership, dental plan, magazine subscriptions, club memberships and other non-essential payments that have been chipping away at your bottom-line. It would be worth calling your gym, for example, to explore your options, including whether they are offering reduced rates or a payment holiday.
Every penny saved is a boost to your budget and will help you to afford the essentials.
Claim back money you could be owed
The Student Loans Company is holding on to over £28 million in student loan over-payments. The company says they have contacted everybody who is owed a refund. However, due to the somewhat ephemeral nature of students and graduates, many change addresses numerous times without updating their details, which means many people will have slipped through the net. This could be you.
Likewise with energy providers: it's estimated that they owe UK households £1.5 billion. Check-in with your provider and see if they owe you any money from overpayments.
See how the Government or your local MP can help
This week, the Government is considering ways to extend its new wage support scheme to the self-employed despite the significant technical challenges.
In the meantime, HMRC has set up a helpline for businesses and self-employed people who are concerned about paying their tax due to Covid-19. Call 0800 0159 559 for help and advice, or alternatively contact your local MP who may be able to help – find out who they are at members.parliament.uk.