VICTORIA BISCHOFF: Livelihoods on the line as virus puts businesses under pressure
Thousands of employees will have woken up yesterday terrified they are about to lose their jobs.
As we reveal today, businesses all over Britain are already cutting workers’ hours and pay in a bid to protect jobs.
But even so, after families were warned to steer clear of pubs, theatres and other social venues, it is inevitable there could soon be insufficient work for everyone.
Threat: Air hostesses are among workers whose jobs are under threat from the coronavirus lockdown
Many will be dependent on companies offering generous sick pay or redundancy packages to get them through this terrible time.
In his first Budget last week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged billions of pounds of aid to help small businesses survive the coronavirus crisis, including refunding sick pay for those who need time off work to self-isolate.
Yet when Money Mail asked the Treasury how much has been paid to companies who could soon go to the wall, we were told not a penny.
Many were told they would not be able to claim the refunds until new systems had been set up, which could take weeks.
Others discovered they have to fill in complicated forms to claw back cash as plans to scrap business rates for thousands of small firms are not due to come in until next month.
And there was no detail to be found about how to claim the promised grants or take advantage of a new loan scheme.
So while the extraordinary new measures Mr Sunak announced yesterday will be a lifeline for thousands of businesses, there must be no more bureaucratic delays.
Desperate businesses cannot afford to wait for civil servants to work their way through endless red tape, particularly given that many may well be working from home or be off sick.
They need money to pay rent and wages now — jobs depend on it.
In these unprecedented times, it is essential that people avoid adopting a compensation culture mentality.
The fact is that we are all probably going to take a hit in one way or another — be it the cost of tickets to see your favourite band or a much-needed holiday.
Chasing firms for every penny could mean they go under, and that will cost yet more jobs. So if you are waiting for a refund, do try to be patient — particularly if you don’t need the money immediately.
At the same time, while it is fair for firms to charge a modest administration fee for rearranging holidays and so on, they must not use these fees to boost their bottom line.
Scams at large
If you are self-isolating or working from home, please be on your guard against scam calls. Fraudsters know that a record number of people will now be at home — and I have no doubt they will try to cash in.
One call already doing the rounds is from scammers impersonating your internet provider such as Sky, BT or Virgin. They often say your broadband router is under attack and persuade you to install software so they can take control of your device.
Their end game is to steal your bank details or demand payment. So, if you receive a call like this, hang up immediately and please don’t give out any personal information.
Here to help
Finally, whatever happens, know that Money Mail will be here each week to help you navigate any financial fallouts to come.
Be it answering questions about what it all means for your personal finances or intervening when you’ve been unfairly treated, write to me at the email address below and we will do our best to help.
I’m also very much in the market for cheery tales of where companies have gone above and beyond to help those affected. If you send them in, I’ll print the best ones here