“We just don’t know what’s around the corner” – Leeds tennis coach on the difficulties of running a business under COVID-19

By Tom Heath

A lack of clarity over government guidance has severely impacted local business owners in the wake of continued lockdowns in West Yorkshire.

Jamie Walters, who runs Kinetic Tennis, a coaching business in Leeds and nearby areas, believes the government’s failure to proactively aid smaller businesses is having a significant impact on his ability to plan for the future.

He told Yorkshire Voice: “We’re completely unsure about what we’re actually going to be able to do in the new year.”

The government last month pledged £7.3bn in a package of support for self-employed people, but critics said it failed to make full provision for self-employed people who were affected by COVID-19.

The campaign group, Excluded UK, argued that three million people had fallen between the cracks of government support, many of them self-employed – and Walters supported this too.

“Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get much help. I had to take another job, which took time away from the tennis, making things a lot more difficult,” he said.

Jamie believes his business has lost out on over £100,000 alone from being unable to work in schools because of current restrictions.

He said: “We were working with 36 schools, and that money becomes valuable to us. Each was around a £1,000 contract, and now it has completely gone.”

Costs are further increased through new safety measures designed to make his sessions safe areas for players to train.

He said: “We have to sanitise equipment and keep rotating through balls in between sessions to keep things as safe as possible.”

The uncertainty of the future means he is unable to properly plan around hiring new coaches and taking on new students.

Walters is hopeful that things will soon turn around, but has a realistic viewpoint of how his business is currently performing.

He said: “We’ve definitely taken a lot of hits this year, but we’re going to keep moving forward.”

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