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COVID-19: Domestic Cleaners See Demand Drop

Nearly half of self- employed workers fear being unable to cover basic costs due to the Coronavirus pandemic, researchers say.

Research by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE)  found that 45% of the self-employed fear being unable to cover basic costs such as rent and bills despite government support.

Andy Chamberlain, Director of Policy at IPSE said: “This research shows that it is not just a few self-employed people falling through the cracks in the government support: right across the sector, freelancers are facing dire financial damage because of the Coronavirus crisis.”

How has this affected people?            

Amongst the five million people in the UK that are self- employed, just over 100,000 are domestic cleaners.  Many have seen demand for work decrease substantially.

I spoke with a cleaner in Birmingham who wished to remain anonymous, she said;

“ I  live with my daughter and contribute £450 per month towards our rent. Although the government has introduced legislation for renters, it simply does not make sense and still leaves private renters at significant risk of eviction once this is over.”

She said that as her tenancy agreement was in her daughter’s name, she was ineligible for government schemes that helped with rent costs.

On work, the self-employed cleaner said;

“Since losing work my daughter has looked after me financially, and luckily one of my clients, who is also a close family friend, gave me wages for the month even though I won’t be attending her premises this month.”

House Cleaners who use TidyChoice, an online platform for independent cleaners also spoke of financially struggling due to the lockdown.

One cleaner was struggling to buy food;

“ I was not prepared for the lockdown… I have been on Universal Credit for about a year and was working a limited number of hours as a cleaner to get the extra money to live on (but) now my earnings are down to £22 per week.

I normally shop at Lidl and buy yellow label marked-down food. Because of the panic buying there is much less marked-down food so I have to pay full price. This has made a big difference. I am now struggling to buy food.

I have been hit hard and I don’t know what I am going to do. It is a strain.”

IPSE highlighted that an income support scheme that provides grants to the self-employed won’t be up and running until June.

Andy Chamberlain said:  “The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) offered generous support to many sole traders, but there are a lot of freelancers who will struggle in the interim before it can be implemented..”

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