The Goldsmiths’ Company and Charity have awarded over £700,000 in grants to people working in the craft, trade and allied industries who face financial hardship due to the Covid-19 pandemic, following the launch of the £1m Goldsmiths’ Covid-19 Fund on 22 April.
The emergency fund was set up to provide immediate financial relief to the self-employed, sole traders or those running micro-businesses (four people or fewer) in the jewellery and silversmithing industries.
Grants of £1,500 have been awarded to almost 500 people who had “fallen through the cracks” and were “unable to access government funding, certainly early in the crisis.” Recipients are receiving their grants in equal instalments over three months.
According to an industry survey of 700 people, conducted by the Goldsmiths’ Company in April and May, 39% said that they were uncertain about whether their business would survive the crisis and still be trading in six months’ time (October 2020).
Half of the people surveyed revealed that they were experiencing financial difficulties such as paying salaries, suppliers, pension contributions, bills or taxes. Some 48% said that their operations had effectively stopped ‘for the time being’ and 38% said they were operating at a ‘significantly reduced capacity’.
Richard Fox, prime warden, said: “The gradual easing of lockdown restrictions will see the wheels of industry slowly start to turn again. For example, all UK Assay offices are now offering hallmarking services to customers, at a reduced level, and bullion dealers have begun trading. However, it is far too early to predict what the economic situation will be for our industry post-crisis.”
The Goldsmiths’ Covid-19 Fund was originally set up to offer a mixture of grants and loans to the smallest and most vulnerable sole traders and micro businesses, with the £1m split equally between the two schemes.
However, demand for grants was so high that the directors of the Goldsmiths’ Company Charity decided to increase the value of the grants in the Fund from £500,000 to £700,000 to support more people needing immediate financial relief.
Fox added: “The demand for grants was greater than we had estimated. Many people in our industry have and continue to face hardship. They are struggling to keep their businesses afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, and we felt it was important to extend our support through grants rather than loans.”