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Covid-19: what aids for designers?

On April 3, the Alliance France Design (AFD) presented the first analysis of its survey “The impact of Covid-19 on the activity of designers” to the Ministry of Culture. A questionnaire that highlights the difficulties encountered by the profession since the onset of the epidemic in France, and its lack of understanding of the measures announced by the government.

Everything happened really fast. In just a few days, French companies from all sectors had to partially stop their activity, for the lucky ones, and until further notice. This situation highlights the lack of preparation in the face of this health crisis. The economic situation is particularly difficult for designers, particularly weakened by cancellations or postponements of projects and unpaid bills from their clients.

François Caspar, président de l’Alliance France Design © Christian Chamourat

The government, in a press release dated March 27, 2020 , has implemented a number of emergency measures to come to the aid of this impoverished business sector: the designers who responded to the survey are preparing to lose between 10 and 60% of their turnover (turnover). Interesting measures, although they are not necessarily adapted to reality, as the decryption of François Caspar, president of AFD shows.

Five measures presented by the Ministry of Culture

The measures are indeed emergency measures to respond to a critical situation. Rue de Valois has therefore announced the deferral of rents and energy costs (water, electricity and gas) to those who request them. For the most precarious, who can not pay them, the ministry ensures that no penalty, suspension or interruption of these supplies will be made. Constrained expenses, such as television, telephone and internet bills may also be deferred.

Frank Riester’s firm announces that designers will be able to benefit from aid of 1,500 euros, paid by the General Directorate of Public Finances (DGFIP), from the solidarity fund of one billion euros set up by the government. At least the professionals who have the status of artist-authors. And this is where the shoe pinches for François Caspar, designer and president of AFD: “ the ministry understands well that it can be the hecatomb, but the measures are very badly adapted to the independents . ” Union poll reveals a completely different reality . The majority of designers are professionals who have freelance status (70% of respondents as of March 30, 2020) “ which provides them with multidisciplinarity, which is the very essence of design”. Professionals may simply not be eligible. If luckily they are, the actual calculation of the amount does not match reality. Based on the turnover for the month of March 2019, it does not take into account the other eleven months of the year. “We ask that it be based on one-twelfth of the total income for the year. Because today, it does not take into account the gold profits, some will make 70% profit, others 40%. It can work for very large companies, but not for the self-employed”Deplores the president of AFD.

It has been two weeks since the French government measures were put in place. As the situation evolves, François Caspar carefully observes how neighboring countries are organized. In addition to being president, he is in charge of AFD’s international relations: “ German independents in difficulty receive aid of 5,000 euros, between three and five days after having requested it! ” Across the Rhine, emergency aid is a one-time grant for self-employed workers. It serves to guarantee the economic existence of companies. Amount ranging from 9,000 to 15,000 euros, it is paid by the various Länder (federal states of Germany). These aids are interesting, “ because they will immediately go back to the real economy, simply to buy food.

Long-term measures

François Caspar thinks that we should take the opportunity to consider the long term and “ prepare for the next pandemics. ” Some directives issued by the government follow this path. The staggering of VAT, social charges and tax for example. Cash loans, also with the guarantee of the State. These are avenues that are interesting, but once again a bit far from reality. The sums advanced should be colossal. The loan, at rate 0, should cover the expenses of the previous year and pay off the almost blank year that 2020 will be according to the president of AFD: “today, the median income of the profession is 20,400 euros, which represents a turnover of around 32,000 euros. These are incomes that have great difficulty in saving in our profession. So that in 2020, a designer will have to pay 8,000 to 10,000 euros in social and fixed charges. The loan granted should therefore be in the amount of 40,000 to 50,000 euros so that the beneficiary can live decently.“Even repayable in five years, it seems unsustainable. This is why AFD advocates the donation system: “ it allows the money to be reinjected immediately, it allows the beneficiary not to get into too much debt and to survive and to absorb three quarters of a year with an absence of income.
The measures put in place by the Ministry of Culture are therefore interesting, but must be more adapted to the French reality of design. François Caspar expects a return from Frank Riester’s teams in order to be able to work together and propose “ an operational plan, which really helps . ” The purpose of the first survey analysis was to quickly question the ministry on the responses and concerns of the 220 designers. A second analysis, more detailed and more complete, is planned “ scheduled for mid-April normally ”Announces the president of AFD. Which is already certain, “ is that the conclusions will be more alarmist ”, Because other difficulties emerge in everyday life such as teleworking and managing the home at the same time.

Rémi de Marassé