News | Published April 15 2020

Prospectus IT Recruitment MD: "Entrepreneurs and small business owners have been forgotten"

There have been no shortage of financial measures announced -- most of them put in place by Chancellor Rishi Sunak some weeks ago. For Elkie Holland, Managing Director of Prospectus IT Recruitment, however, it simply hasn't been enough. She told The Parliamentary Review why it felt like firms like hers had been "forgotten".

I honestly feel like the government has tried to help businesses. And it has -- in a lot of cases. But it feels like they have forgotten about the entrepreneurs and the small business owners -- the ones they'll be relying on to get the economy going after all this subsides.

About 90 per cent of my contractors have had their contracts terminated. Permanent job offers we've been working on for months have been held. All roles have stopped recruiting, so that means no business for us. And the majority of large software suppliers are not negotiating discounts as they have contracts in place -- meaning running costs remain pretty much the same. Our recruitment CRM supplier, Voyager, have done what they can to help, but this is sadly a rare -- although very much appreciated -- offer of help in these difficult times.

We've furloughed staff under the government scheme, but we're not eligible for grants as we're in serviced offices. Furthermore, a loan won't help -- our running costs come in at about £25,000 a month. We'd have to borrow some £75,000 to get us over the line for the next three months -- and that's a lot of debt to have to pay back.

As MD, I can't be furloughed -- someone needs to "be the face of the business", authorise the furlough payments for the rest of our staff and process contractor payments, so therefore I'm deemed as working. This means I'm now learning accounts and filing systems and every other piece of day-to-day know-how just to keep the business alive.

My role is typically sales-based -- not administrative. But the only way to see the business through is to try and do everything pretty much by myself -- while not taking a salary, thanks to overheads being just too high for that and the significantly reduced income as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

I am by no means alone in this scenario -- I've spoken to many clients who find themselves in similar positions. By the end of the furlough period, we'll see a lot of MDs emerging exhausted and totally not ready to jumpstart the economy -- and we're the ones who need to be ready to push ahead and steer a damaged boat back into calm waters.

I honestly feel it would have been better if the government allowed some kind of partial furlough scheme -- so that I could keep my accounts administrator and office manager on so I could focus on everything else. That way, we still have the right people in the right place and are just running with something of a skeleton crew. The reduced hours would mean companies would still be working together, allowing for some kind of cohesion to see us through this tough period. This would also help the mental health issues across workforces that come about as a result of employees going from full-time work to nothing with minimal notice or preparation -- a massive adjustment for anybody.

I appreciate this time isn't easy for anyone -- our prime minister has only just left hospital -- but these measures just aren't fine-tuned for a great number of businesses. If there was some flexibility from HMRC and the Treasury, just a touch more understanding, maybe British companies would be getting themselves in a much better state to recover once this pandemic blows over.

You can read the Prospectus IT Recruitment best practice article here.

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Authored by

Elkie Holland
Director of Prospectus IT Recruitment
April 15 2020

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