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Coronavirus: the situation for UK-based sole traders
Thread poster: Tom in London

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:34
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Best not good enough Mar 12

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

... I can give you, Tom, is to buckle down at a relatively safe place of work, get on with it like the superb and conscientious translator you undoubtedly are, and worry about falling revenue a little further down the line. You've been in the country long enough for some of that stiff-upper-lip philosophy to have rubbed off on you, surely.



Please drop the personal tone. You don't know anything about me.

[Edited at 2020-03-12 13:24 GMT]


 

Emily Scott  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:34
Member (2018)
French to English
+ ...
@Tom Mar 12

I understand your concern Tom, especially with your pair being Italian into English. I've felt pretty desperate too recently, my main language pair is the same as yours and requests coming in have ground to a complete stop. But this is the risk we take being self-employed. Every time I have a bad month, I don't expect anyone to bail me out because this is the nature of the job. We know the risks going in but we take them because we love our line of work. I've been taking some courses on-line in ... See more
I understand your concern Tom, especially with your pair being Italian into English. I've felt pretty desperate too recently, my main language pair is the same as yours and requests coming in have ground to a complete stop. But this is the risk we take being self-employed. Every time I have a bad month, I don't expect anyone to bail me out because this is the nature of the job. We know the risks going in but we take them because we love our line of work. I've been taking some courses on-line in my specialism to fill the time and catching up on some hobbies that I usually don't have time to do. Unfortunately, this thing doesn't look like it's going to get any better any time soon so the best thing I could suggest is use the time productively on other parts of your business. And as someone said earlier, these times are what savings are for, "a rainy day", whether you have them or not, maybe this will be a lesson for the future?Collapse


Chris S
Teresa Borges
P.L.F.Persio
Maria Pia Giuseppina Nuzzolese
Kay Denney
Wilsonn Perez Reyes
Philip Lees
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:34
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
UK-based sole traders? Mar 12

Sore traders, more like.

Dan Lucas
Chris S
Sheila Wilson
Teresa Borges
P.L.F.Persio
Angus Stewart
Philip Lees
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:34
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Rainy Mar 12

Emily Scott wrote:

I understand your concern Tom, especially with your pair being Italian into English. I've felt pretty desperate too recently, my main language pair is the same as yours and requests coming in have ground to a complete stop. But this is the risk we take being self-employed. Every time I have a bad month, I don't expect anyone to bail me out because this is the nature of the job. We know the risks going in but we take them because we love our line of work. I've been taking some courses on-line in my specialism to fill the time and catching up on some hobbies that I usually don't have time to do. Unfortunately, this thing doesn't look like it's going to get any better any time soon so the best thing I could suggest is use the time productively on other parts of your business. And as someone said earlier, these times are what savings are for, "a rainy day", whether you have them or not, maybe this will be a lesson for the future?


Actually savings are for lots of things - in my case private things involving other people. I need my savings for very important things that have got nothing to do with me, or my work as a translator.

Personal savings should NOT be used as day-to-day spending money. Spending money has to come out of revenue. That's just basic accounting.

Up until now my revenue has always been more than enough to tide me over the occasional lean month but now, because of coronavirus, my revenue has started to drop off and dipping into my savings, which are severely needed for other purposes, is not part of my business plan. Governments everywhere are already acknowledging that businesses need support in this difficult time - and are taking action in that regard but so far, our category (sole traders who are not ill) has not been given any specific provision.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:34
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
You just won't stop, will you? Mar 12

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

Sore traders, more like.


 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:34
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes Mar 12

No

Chris S
Dan Lucas
P.L.F.Persio
Andrew Morris
2G Trad
Sandra & Kenneth Grossman
Joanna Posylek
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:34
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
On topic - wrong forum Mar 12

Tom in London wrote:
This thread is about a specific problem faced by translators *in the UK*.

Then it should have been posted in the specific Translation in the UK forum.

Most of us, wherever we live in the world, see this as a world problem. It clearly doesn't only affect Brits or those resident in the UK.

I've just been listening to the head of the ECB explaining some measures being put in place, and she explicitly referred to some being of particular aid to small and medium-sized businesses. But of course UK businesses won't benefit from them.

I find it sad that you're so dismissive of more general replies that take the world view. But then, I don't see the world from a parochial UK viewpoint. My passport is the only thing about me that's British (until I can change it, anyway).


P.L.F.Persio
Josephine Cassar
Robert Carter
Hesam Arki
Cristina Bufi Poecksteiner, M.A.
Joanna Posylek
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:34
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Perhaps the tirle wasn't clear Mar 12

It says "Coronavirus: the situation for UK-based sole traders".

 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:34
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Save our soles Mar 12

Jings, I hadn't read that it affected fish too. Looks like Dover sole's off the menu for a month or two.

Joanna Posylek
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:34
Member (2018)
French to English
. Mar 12

Tom if your savings have been earmarked for something else, they're not savings!

I have a fair amount stashed away just in case, and I sometimes think I could invest it in something, then I think I'd rather have it in an account that I can withdraw from any time.

(I'm not in the UK but I doubt my attitude would be any different if I were, it was my very British father who instilled budgetary caution in me.)


Emily Scott
Teresa Borges
 

Helen Shiner  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:34
Member (2008)
German to English
+ ...
@Tom Mar 12

Perhaps you have seen this, Tom: https://www.ipse.co.uk/ipse-news/news-listing/coronavirus-ipse-activity-and-advice-freelancers.html It might be worth watching developments.

 

Helen Shiner  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:34
Member (2008)
German to English
+ ...
Apologies Mar 12

I see the above has been posted before on this thread.

 

RobinB  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:34
German to English
Don't hold your breath Mar 12

Tom in London wrote:

There doesn't appear to be anything in yesterday's Budget to safeguard translators working as sole traders. Or did I miss something?


No, you didn't miss anything. And nothing else has been announced or even hinted at by Whitehall that might suggest any meaningful support for freelancers/sole traders (though there have been rumours of some sort of support for genuine gig economy workers). It's no different here in the US, believe me, and was made even worse yesterday evening by what one top asset manager called "the most expensive speech in history".

It's time to dig into your rainy day fund. I did read what you wrote about your savings, but I'm afraid the fact that you have earmarked them for other purposes doesn't really help very much. I do appreciate it's a bummer that the financial markets have tanked at the same time as the market for your own business, but that was quite predictable, to be honest, at the latest two weeks ago. If (like a lot of people) you have significant assets locked up in real estate, you can either sell (some of) it and realise the cash profits in a couple of months or (possibly a more appropriate solution considering the super-low interest rates), remortgage it. Though if that real estate is in Italy, I do appreciate that this might not be possible at present.

I'm afraid you can't realistically expect government to do anything of any real value that will help your particular situation. But you've had decades to prepare for this, haven't you?

Robin


Teresa Borges
 

Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:34
Member
French to English
+ ...
Government's attitude to translators and small business generally Mar 12

I would be surprised if the government did anything for translators/interpreters in particular, or even sole traders in general. It has repeatedly turned a deaf ear to calls to regulate the profession, and prefers to outsource work to agencies and sign contracts with them rather than deal with us directly, despite the adverse consequences that this brings for both service providers like us and service users (though not agency owners and executives, who tend to do nicely out of it).

... See more
I would be surprised if the government did anything for translators/interpreters in particular, or even sole traders in general. It has repeatedly turned a deaf ear to calls to regulate the profession, and prefers to outsource work to agencies and sign contracts with them rather than deal with us directly, despite the adverse consequences that this brings for both service providers like us and service users (though not agency owners and executives, who tend to do nicely out of it).

As for small business generally, the general trend I see from national and local government is one of big business tending to be favoured at the expense of small business, however much lip service is paid to the latter. Ever-increasing business rates make it difficult for small businesses, and businesspeople, to survive. I have noticed a lot of amalgamation in the business world in the UK in recent years, with groups of individual businesses in sectors as diverse as hairdressing and ice rinks merging to form chains within their industry. Whether that's a survival strategy on their part, or whether it's greed on the part of those at the top of the business world looking to take everything over, or a combination of the two, I don't know, but what I do know is that our government has done little or nothing to reverse that trend over the years, so I'd be surprised if they did anything concrete to help small businesses now, whatever they might say in their announcements.

[Edited at 2020-03-12 23:48 GMT]
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Tom in London
 

Wendy Cummings  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:34
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
As much as it would be lovely, I can't see the government stepping up Mar 13

Let's imagine for a moment that the government did introduce measures to provide "income insurance" for sole traders who suffer indirectly from Covid-19, how would it work?

It would sadly be almost impossible to prove. For example, I could provide my past three months' earnings, but I was actually hit by an IT issue in January which meant my income was drastically reduced, so my figures don't actually reflect my usual earnings. Can I claim that too? Could I try to claim that the IT
... See more
Let's imagine for a moment that the government did introduce measures to provide "income insurance" for sole traders who suffer indirectly from Covid-19, how would it work?

It would sadly be almost impossible to prove. For example, I could provide my past three months' earnings, but I was actually hit by an IT issue in January which meant my income was drastically reduced, so my figures don't actually reflect my usual earnings. Can I claim that too? Could I try to claim that the IT losses as Covid19 losses, as less honest people may be tempted to do? I also receive a (rare) complaint last month - could the Government try to claim that is the reason for my loss in income and deny my Covid19 claim. And if the Government agreed to cover losses from UK-based clients, could it say that the actions of foreign governments are beyond their control and so it has no duty to cover my losses from European-based clients (which, for me, is the majority)...

I fear that, in reality, we have to lump it, as much as I would like it to be otherwise.

I too have savings that I hope to use for something else. But that is the fate of the self-employed - we have to cover ourselves and use our own resources to do so.

I would be interested to hear from anyone with income protection insurance and whether it applies to such a situation?
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Dan Lucas
 
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