• ChevronChevron
    Coronavirus and your finances: h...

Coronavirus and your finances: how to get the help you need

Coronavirus and your finances: how to get the help you need

The coronavirus pandemic has left many out of work, on reduced hours, and unable to leave their homes. Naturally, this has had an effect on people’s financial wellbeing, with many unsure what their next best step is.

We’re on a mission to help everyone move on up to a better financial future, which is why we’ve prepared this catch-all guide on what you can do, and to help where we can during this difficult time. We're updating this guide on a regular basis, so you can have all the latest info in one place.

Credit cards, loans, and other financial products

I can’t pay my credit card

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has updated its guidance due to the new lockdown measures. If you’re struggling with credit card payments and have not yet asked for a payment holiday, you can now ask your bank or lender for one.

You can request a payment holiday for three months, and if you’re struggling after the three months, you can ask for another three month payment holiday — six months in total.

But, you should only apply for a payment holiday if you really need to. Interest will still be added to your balance, so the amount you owe after the payment holiday will be higher. If possible, making smaller payments is better, so you should do this if you can.

If you do need to apply for the payment holiday, contact your lender as soon as possible. Don’t cancel payments before speaking to the bank or lender. They are likely to be busier than usual, so it may take a while to get a response.

I’ve already taken a payment holiday

If you've already taken a payment holiday on a credit card balance and still need help to repay, you should contact your lender and ask for another three month holiday.

If you’ve already had two payment holidays of six months in total, you’ll need to talk to your lender to discuss how they can best support you. Any further repayment plans may appear on your credit report.

If you’re struggling with long-term financial difficulties because of coronavirus, you should speak to your lender or a free debt charity for more support.

You can find the application form for a payment holiday below. Click the name of the bank to go to their website. If your credit card provider isn't listed, visit their website.

American Express

Barclaycard

CapitalOne

Lloyds

M&S Bank

MBNA

Nationwide

RBS

Santander

Tesco Bank

What happens when the payment holiday ends?

Your lender should contact you when your payment holiday is coming to an end. If you can afford to start making repayments after the holiday then you should do so.

If you can’t afford to start your repayments, talk about what options are available, such as making smaller repayments.

Make sure you ask the lender what happens to your credit report and score with your new repayment plan, and understand how this could affect your future borrowing.

If I don’t pay my credit card, will it harm my credit score?

If you have a payment holiday it won’t be reported on your credit report. But, after the payment holiday, any further repayment plans could be reported to lenders and affect your future borrowing.

Check with your lender what will happen to your credit report and score when discussing your repayment plan.

If you miss a payment without an agreement in place, it will be treated as a missed payment and could harm your score.

You can see if your payment holiday has been recorded by the lender by checking your free credit report. If it shows a missed payment, you can raise a dispute on your report to get it sorted. You should also double-check with your lender, to make sure it doesn’t happen again next month. It’s best to check your report on a regular basis, as it may take a while to update.

Check my credit report now Chevron

I can’t pay my loan

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has updated its guidance due to the new lockdown measures. If you’re struggling with loan payments and have not yet asked for a payment holiday, you can now ask your bank or lender for one.

You can request a payment holiday for three months, and if you’re struggling after the three months, you can ask for another three month payment holiday — six months in total.

But, you should only apply for a payment holiday if you really need to. Interest will still be added to your loan, so the amount you owe after the payment holiday will be higher. If possible, making smaller payments is better, so you should do this if you can.

If you do need to apply for the payment holiday, contact your lender as soon as possible. Don’t cancel payments before speaking to the bank or lender. They are likely to be busier than usual, so it may take a while to get a response.

I’ve already taken a payment holiday

If you've already taken a payment holiday on your loan and still need help to repay, you should contact your lender and ask for another three month holiday.

If you’ve already had two payment holidays of six months in total, you’ll need to talk to your lender to discuss how they can best support you.

Any further repayment plans may appear on your credit report. If you’re struggling with long-term financial difficulties because of coronavirus, you should speak to your lender or a free debt charity for more support.

You can find the application form for a payment holiday below. Click the name of the bank to go to their website. If your loan provider isn't listed, visit their website.

Barclays

Clydesdale

HSBC

Lloyds

Nationwide

RBS

Sainsbury's

Santander

Tesco

Yorkshire Building Society

If you were struggling with your finances before coronavirus, talk to your lender about this. Banks and lenders should consider other options for you, such as reducing or cancelling interest charges, or accepting smaller payments. Talk to them to find out what your options are.

What happens when the payment holiday ends?

Your lender should contact you when your payment holiday is coming to an end. If you can afford to start making repayments after the holiday then you should do so.

If you can’t afford to start your repayments, talk about what options are available, such as making smaller repayments.

Make sure you ask the lender what happens to your credit report and score with your new repayment plan, and understand how this could affect your future borrowing.

If I don’t pay my loan, will it harm my credit score?

If you have a payment holiday it won’t be reported on your credit report. But, after the payment holiday, any further repayment plans could be reported to lenders and affect your future borrowing.

Check with your lender what will happen to your credit report and score when discussing your repayment plan.

If you miss a payment without an agreement in place, it will be treated as a missed payment and could harm your score.

You can see if your payment holiday has been recorded by the lender by checking your free credit report. If it shows a missed payment, you can raise a dispute on your report to get it sorted. You should also double-check with your lender, to make sure it doesn’t happen again next month. It’s best to check your report on a regular basis, as it may take a while to update.

Check my credit report now Chevron

If you make sure everything is as it should be now, it'll make it easier when things go back to normal. With a good credit score, you can get the credit you need when you need it, improve your financial footing, and move on up to a better future.

What if I receive a letter saying I’m in arrears?

If you’re on a payment holiday, you might receive a letter from the bank or lender saying that you’re in arrears (you owe them money).

This letter is automatically sent after two months because this is what normally happens if you miss two payments.

If you receive a letter, even if you're on a payment holiday, contact your lender as soon as you can.

I'm struggling to pay my overdraft

The FCA have asked lenders to support people if they can’t pay their overdraft, and agree a repayment plan that works for the customer. This could include reducing interest, or offering customers the chance to switch the balance to a cheaper product (such as a loan).

If you’re likely to borrow a large amount from your overdraft, and need longer to pay it off, you could consider a purchase credit card as a more affordable alternative. Purchase cards give you a set number of months of interest-free spending, which means you won’t pay interest on anything you buy.

Check my eligibility for purchase cards Chevron

Keep in mind, some lenders are being cautious with lending right now. If you see something that’s suitable for you, it might be a good idea to see where you stand now, in case things change. Think carefully before applying for credit and choose the right product for your situation.

What about buy now, pay later (BNPL) services?

If you’re struggling to make payments for a BNPL service, such as Klarna or Clearpay, contact the company as soon as possible.

Don't cancel payments before speaking to the BNPL company. They are likely to be busier than usual, so it may take a while to get a response.

You can request a payment holiday for three months, and if you’re struggling after the three months, you can ask for another three month payment holiday — six months in total.

I've already taken a payment holiday

If you've already taken a payment holiday on BNPL services and still need help to repay, you should contact the company and ask for another three month holiday.

If you’ve already had two payment holidays of six months in total, you’ll need to talk to the company to discuss how they can best support you.

Any further repayment plans may appear on your credit report. If you’re struggling with long-term financial difficulties because of coronavirus, you should speak to your lender or a free debt charity for more support.

Should I use buy now, pay later (BNPL) at the moment?

BNPL services may seem like a good idea at the moment because it means you can make smaller payments over time, or delay payments until later.

But, it’s important to know that missing BNPL payments can harm your credit score. So, if you choose to use these services, make sure you can keep up with the repayments.

If you want to spread your payments on essential purchases right now, a credit card could be a more secure way to pay at the moment.

And, you can protect all credit card transactions over £100 thanks to Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. Find out more details about how you can stay protected with a credit card here.

What about Rent to own (RTO) agreements?

The latest guidance from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) says RTO companies should offer customers a payment holiday if they need one.

If you haven't yet asked for a payment holiday from an RTO company, you can request a payment holiday for three months.

If you’re struggling after the three months, you can ask for another three month payment holiday — six months in total. But, you should only apply for a payment holiday if you really need to.

Interest will still be added to your balance, so the amount you owe after the payment holiday will be higher.

If possible, making smaller payments is better, so you should do this if you can. If you do need to apply for the payment holiday, contact the RTO company as soon as possible.

Don’t cancel payments before speaking to the company. They are likely to be busier than usual, so it may take a while to get a response. The FCA have said that firms shouldn't repossess goods that customers need before 31 January 2021.

Will I still be charged interest?

Yes, on a payment holiday you will still be charged interest on the payments.

Contact the RTO company as soon as possible if you are struggling with payments and want to apply for the payment holiday.

You should also find out what will happen after the break. For example, your monthly payments may need to increase, or you might have to pay off the product over a longer period of time.

I've already taken a payment holiday

If you've already taken a payment holiday for an RTO agreement and still need help to repay, you should contact the company and ask for another three month holiday.

If you’ve already had two payment holidays of six months in total, you’ll need to talk to the company to discuss how they can best support you.

Any further repayment plans may appear on your credit report. If you’re struggling with long-term financial difficulties because of coronavirus, speak to the company and seek debt help if needed.

If I miss a RTO payment, will it affect my credit score?

If you’ve agreed a payment holiday with the RTO company, it won’t affect your credit score. But, if you stop making payments without telling the company, it will be treated as a missed payment and could harm your score. So, it's best to do this as soon as possible if you're struggling.

You can see if your payment holiday has been recorded correctly by checking your free credit report. If it shows a missed payment, you can raise a dispute on your report to get it sorted. You should also double-check with the company, to make sure it doesn’t happen again next month. It’s best to check your report on a regular basis, as it may take a while to update.

Check my credit report now Chevron

What about payday loans?

In the latest set of guidance, the Financial Conduct Authority has also given guidance to payday loan firms. Payday loans are sometimes called High Cost Short Term Credit (HCSTC) or short-term loans.

These types of loans are usually for a few months and for amounts of between £100 and £1,000. The interest rates are usually much higher than other forms of borrowing.

If you have a loan with a payday firm and are struggling to repay, you can apply for a one month interest-free payment holiday if you haven't already done so already.

I've already had a payday loan payment holiday

You can't take another payment holiday if you've already had one. But, if you're still struggling to repay, speak to the payday lender and see how they can help. This could include a new repayment plan with lower interest rates or charges.

Why is it only a one month break?

Unlike other loans, payday loans offer short term lending with high interest rates, so the payment freeze is shorter to match this. To avoid high interest rates during a payment freeze, the recommendation is that people can have a shorter break and can avoid added interest.

What happens after the month break?

Companies have been asked to act fairly. This means you can arrange a repayment plan after the month break that works best for you. This could be a lump sum or smaller amounts on a regular basis.

I can’t pay my pawnbroker

If you can’t pay your pawnbroker you should contact them as soon as possible. If you haven’t already asked for support you can do so now.

This support could include the pawnbroker giving you a longer redemption period, or not giving notice of intention to sell the item. If you’ve already received notice for them to sell, the pawnbroker could stop the sale for a certain period.

I can’t collect my item

If you can’t collect an item because of government restrictions, or are unable to make payment remotely, the pawnbroker shouldn’t charge you interest or a fee.

Speak to your pawnbroker to arrange the best solution.

I can’t pay my car finance loan

The Financial Conduct Authority has introduced more measures for car finance agreements. If you’re struggling to make payments and haven’t yet asked for a payment holiday, you can do this now.

I’ve already taken a payment holiday for my car finance loan

If you've already taken a payment holiday you can apply for another three month break.

Car finance companies have been told to act fairly. This means not starting the process of repossessing, ending agreements, or changing contracts if customers are currently facing financial difficulties.

This also includes helping customers who have a PCP agreement and want to buy their car at the end of the contract. If you want to do this but can't afford to pay the 'balloon' payment, car finance companies should work with you to find the best solution.

If you’re struggling with long-term financial difficulties because of coronavirus, you should speak to your lender or a free debt charity for more support.

Will I still pay interest?

If approved for a payment holiday, interest will still be added to the car finance loan.

At the end of the payment holiday, the lender may increase the remaining payments to cover what was missed. Or, the car finance agreement may be extended.

Make sure you find out what will happen after the payment holiday before you make an agreement with the lender.

What happens when the payment holiday ends?

Your lender should contact you when your car finance payment holiday is coming to an end. If you can afford to start making repayments after the three month holiday then you should do so.

If possible, it’s best to make some repayments, even if it is not the full amount. Talk about your repayment options when the lender contacts you.

Will the car finance payment holiday affect my credit score?

If you have an agreed payment holiday with your car finance lender, it should not appear as a missed payment on your credit score. This includes if you ask for an extension of your payment holiday for another three months.

If you miss a payment without an agreement in place, it will be treated as a missed payment and could harm your score.

You can see if your payment holiday has been recorded correctly by checking your free credit report. If it shows a missed payment, you can raise a dispute on your report to get it sorted. You should also double-check with your car finance provider, to make sure it doesn’t happen again next month. It’s best to check your report on a regular basis, as it may take a while to update.

Check my credit report now Chevron

If you make sure everything is as it should be now, it'll make it easier when things go back to normal. With a good credit score, you could get the credit you need when you need it, improve your financial footing, and move on up to a better future.

What is voluntary termination?

If you're in a car finance agreement but no longer want or need your car, you can give it up. This is called voluntary termination and means you can end your car finance agreement early.

If you want to do this, there are two main conditions. Firstly, the car must not be damaged in any way. Secondly, you need to have paid half the total amount you agreed to pay.

If you haven’t yet paid half, this might not be a good option right now unless you can cover the rest of the costs.

If you want to start voluntary termination you should contact your dealer in writing. It’s best to do this by email in the current situation.

I'm struggling to pay my insurance

The Financial Conduct Authority has updated guidance for insurance companies. When you contact a company and tell them you're struggling with payments because of coronavirus, the company should help you and run through different options.

The company should also consider that circumstances are different. For example, you might not be using your car at the moment but still paying the insurance.

What can an insurance company do?

If you tell a company you're struggling, they might offer you a range of options, depending on your individual circumstances. This could include considering if another product would be better at the moment, not charging fees if your policy changes, or postponing payments. If you paid an insurance premium upfront, you may be able to get a refund.

Contact your insurance provider as soon as possible if you're struggling.

Household bills

I can’t pay my gas and electric

Energy regulator Ofgem has said energy companies should take measures to support customers who are struggling with payments. They have also confirmed that prepayment meters won’t be disconnected during the outbreak.

If you’re struggling to pay your bill, get in touch with your supplier as soon as possible. They may reassess your tariff or reduce your bills, depending on your situation.

I have a prepayment meter — how do I top up?

If you’re a vulnerable adult or are self-isolating, Ofgem recommends you choose someone you trust to top up your meter.

You’ll need to hand over your top-up card or key to do this. Make sure you keep the recommended two metres distance apart when doing so.

I don’t have someone who can top up for me

If you have a smart meter, you might be able to top up online or via an app. Plus, some energy companies can post you prepaid top-up cards and keys.

Get in touch with your energy supplier to see if either of these options are possible.

I need to save money on energy

Energy prices fell on 1st October 2020 because of the energy price cap.

But, if you want to save more money on energy, it might be worth switching suppliers to get a better deal.

You can now switch and save on your energy with TotallyMoney. Complete your energy profile and find out if you’re paying too much. Then, compare tariffs to find the right one for you. You could save hundreds of pounds, helping you now and in the future.

See how much you could save Chevron

I can’t pay my water bill

If you can’t keep on top of your water payments, get in touch with your water company to talk through your options.

A lot of water companies have hardship schemes in place to support those who are struggling.

I can’t pay my council tax

Contact your local council if you are struggling to pay your council tax. Each council has its own scheme to provide relief to struggling households.

The government has confirmed it will provide a hardship fund for those affected most by coronavirus. Some of this will include council tax relief for those who need it most. Find your local council here.

I can’t pay my TV licence

Contact TV licencing directly if you are struggling to pay and they can try and help. They have a reduced team so it may take longer to get through.

If you are self-isolating and can’t make a payment at a PayPoint, it’s possible to make payments online and via phone.

I can’t pay my phone and internet bill

Each network provider has measures in place to support those who are struggling to pay phone and internet bills.

Many phone and internet providers have said you won’t be automatically disconnected if you can’t pay your bill. Others have added extras onto contracts, such as more data.

Check with your provider to see what they can offer you.

I'm struggling to pay my insurance

The Financial Conduct Authority has updated guidance for insurance companies. When you contact a company and tell them you're struggling with payments because of coronavirus, the company should help you and run through different options.

The company should also consider that circumstances are different. For example, you might not be using your car at the moment but still paying the insurance.

What can an insurance company do?

If you tell a company you're struggling, they might offer you a range of options, depending on your individual circumstances. This could include considering if another product would be better at the moment, not charging fees if your policy changes, or postponing payments. If you paid an insurance premium upfront, you may be able to get a refund.

Contact your insurance provider as soon as possible if you're struggling.

Rent repayments

I can’t pay my rent

If you can’t keep up with your rental payments, talk to your landlord as soon as you can. See if you can come up with an arrangement.

Is there any help?

The government has increased Local Housing Allowance. If you already get Housing Benefit, you should get more.

If you’re struggling to pay your rent, check to see what you’re eligible for. If you’re now out of work or your income is now much less, you may be entitled to Universal Credit or Housing Benefit.

Check with your local council to see what you can get. Find your local council here.

I’m worried I’ll be evicted

The government has passed emergency legislation that means landlords can’t start the eviction process without giving six months notice.

This is not an eviction ban. It just means landlords have to wait longer before they can get the ball rolling.

While this does give tenants some breathing space, it doesn’t protect them indefinitely.

Citizens Advice will be able to offer guidance on what to do if you are being threated with eviction.

Mortgage repayments

I can’t pay my mortgage

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has updated its guidance due to the new lockdown measures. If you’re struggling to pay your mortgage, you can apply for a three month payment holiday from your lender. You have until January 2021 to ask for this.

Depending on your circumstances, you could have two three-month payment holidays — six months in total. But, you should only apply for a payment holiday if you really need to. Interest will still be added to your mortgage, so the amount you owe after the payment holiday will be higher.

If possible, making smaller payments is better, so you should do this if you can. If you do need to apply for the payment holiday, contact your lender as soon as possible.

Don’t cancel payments before speaking to the bank or lender. They are likely to be busier than usual, so it may take a while to get a response.

No one will have their home repossessed until after 31 January 2021.

What if I’ve already taken a mortgage holiday?

If you've already taken a payment holiday on your mortgage and still need help to repay, you should contact your lender and ask for another three month holiday.

If you’ve already had two payment holidays of six months in total, you’ll need to talk to your lender to discuss how they can best support you. Any further repayment plans may appear on your credit report.

If you’re struggling with long-term financial difficulties because of coronavirus, you should speak to your lender or a free debt charity for more support.

If I take a mortgage holiday, when do I make the payments up?

In most cases, the payments you miss during your mortgage holiday will be spread across the rest of your mortgage.

This means there will be a small increase to the monthly repayments afterwards, and you should think how this will affect your finances in future. Your payment date won’t change.

Are there any exceptions?

This payment holiday is designed for any homeowner affected by coronavirus. The mortgage provider will want to get your holiday approved quickly, so it’s likely you won’t have to pass any affordability checks, but this might not be the case with all mortgage providers.

If you can’t afford a higher monthly repayment, some mortgage providers might consider extending your mortgage. This will likely be assessed on a case-by-case basis, so it’s best to speak with your lender.

Will I pay interest during my mortgage holiday?

Yes. While you won’t have to pay anything during your mortgage holiday, you’ll still rack up interest. This means you’ll likely pay more overall.

How do I get a mortgage holiday?

Get in touch with your mortgage provider as soon as you can to talk through your options. It’s best to do this sooner rather than later if you’re struggling to stay on top of your repayments. Keep in mind, banks and lenders are likely to be much busier than usual.

You can find the application form for a mortgage payment holiday below. Click the name of the bank to go to their website. If your mortgage provider isn't listed, visit their website.

Barclays

Coventry Building Society

HSBC

Lloyds

Nationwide

RBS

Santander

TSB

Virgin Money

Yorkshire Building Society

What happens when the payment holiday ends?

Your lender should contact you when your payment holiday is coming to an end. If you can afford to start making repayments after the holiday then you should do so.

If you can’t afford to start your repayments, talk about what options are available, such as making smaller repayments.

Make sure you ask the lender what happens to your credit report and score with your new repayment plan, and understand how this could affect your future borrowing.

Will a mortgage holiday affect my credit score?

If you have a payment holiday it won’t be reported on your credit report. But, after the payment holiday, any further repayment plans could be reported to lenders and affect your future borrowing.

Check with your lender what will happen to your credit report and score when discussing your repayment plan.

If you miss a payment without an agreement in place, it will be treated as a missed payment and could harm your score.

You can see if your payment holiday has been recorded by the lender by checking your free credit report. If it shows a missed payment, you can raise a dispute on your report to get it sorted. You should also double-check with your lender, to make sure it doesn’t happen again next month. It’s best to check your report on a regular basis, as it may take a while to update.

Check my credit report now Chevron

If you make sure everything is as it should be now, it'll make it easier when things go back to normal. With a good credit score, you can get the credit you need when you need it, improve your financial footing, and move on up to a better future.

What do interest rate drops mean for my mortgage?

The Bank of England has cut the base interest rate to 0.1%. This is a historic low rate and could affect your mortgage, depending on the type of mortgage you have or apply for.

Tracker mortgages

A tracker mortgage is based on the Bank of England’s base rate, plus a percentage on top of that. Now the Bank of England has reduced the base rate to 0.1%, your monthly repayments should decrease.

Variable mortgages

Lenders may reduce their interest rates, but this is their decision. Get in touch with your mortgage provider to find out.

Fixed mortgages

Unfortunately, the rate you have will stay the same until the fixed period ends.

New mortgages

You can still apply for a new mortgage, but it might take longer. For example, if a surveyor needs to visit your home, you might have to wait until the lockdown ends. Plus, banks and lenders are likely to be busier than usual, so it could take longer for them to process your application.

Should I remortgage?

With the interest rates significantly lower, remortgaging could help to reduce your monthly outgoings. But, check if you have to pay an early repayment charge, as this could make it less cost-effective.

If your current mortgage deal is due to end in a few months, you'll likely automatically move onto a standard variable rate, which could cost you more. Your lender should contact you beforehand, so you won't forget. But, if you don't hear from them, contact them to find out if you can get a better deal when it ends.

Be sure to look around at other lenders as well. Although there are fewer deals out there at the moment due to coronavirus, you could find a cheaper deal elsewhere.

I’m self-employed — can I still get a mortgage holiday?

Yes. If you’re struggling to keep on top of your repayments due to coronavirus, get in touch with your lender to talk through your options.

Subscriptions, leisure, and entertainment

Some events and activities are no longer possible due to coronavirus. If any of these affect you, it’s worth seeing if you can get a refund to save some money.

Gym memberships

Many gyms have already contacted customers about freezing payments while they’re closed. If you haven’t heard anything, contact your gym to check.

Train tickets

Most train season tickets and advance tickets are refundable without extra admin fees. Contact the relevant train company or website you booked through.

For monthly and annual season tickets, the payment will be backdated from when you last used it.

Demand for train ticket refunds is much higher than normal, so it may take slightly longer for the refund to arrive in your bank account.

Flights and holidays

As per the government's guidelines, you shouldn’t travel unless it’s essential. If your holiday (flight, hotel, cruise) is cancelled, you should be able to rebook or get a refund.

Airbnb are also offering refunds due to the extreme circumstances and you should be able to do this online.

If you’re struggling to get a refund but have booked on your credit card, you might be covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. The purchase must be more than £100 to be eligible. Find out more about it here.

Concerts, shows, and sporting events

If an event has been cancelled, the organiser will let you know and you should be able to get a refund. You might get a refund automatically.

If an event has been postponed, you may not get a refund. However, if you can’t make the rescheduled date, you should get in touch with the relevant organiser to request a refund and explain you can’t attend.

Delivery services

Amazon will still be offering deliveries during the lockdown. But, it may take longer for deliveries to arrive. When you checkout, it should give you an estimated delivery date.

Most online shops are still operating but at a slower pace, and many essential and higher-demand items may be sold out. You also might have to pay more than usual for delivery.

In all situations, drivers may leave packages on the doorstep to avoid contact.

If you’ve signed up to any of their premium services that you’re currently not using, it might be worthwhile cancelling your subscription. This could also include other regular deliveries, such as alcohol, razors, meal plans, magazines, and newspapers.

TV bundles, extras, and add-ons

Check on your supplier’s website to see what measures they have in place at the moment.

Some people have add-ons to their TV packages, as well as their internet and phone subscriptions. You should consider if these are absolutely necessary and whether it’s worth pausing them over the next few months to save some money.

Streaming services

Streaming services are operating as normal, but if you’re having financial difficulties, cutting back on one or two can reduce your monthly outgoings.

Amazon is currently letting people stream children’s films for free, without a Prime account.

Be careful cancelling direct debits

If you want to take a mortgage, credit card, or loan holiday, or pause a subscription or bill, it’s important not just to cancel the direct debit without first arranging with the lender or service.

Cancelling without letting them know could mean letters demanding payment, or have an affect on your credit score, which will show missed payments.

Always contact the provider first to talk through your options.

Getting paid

What happens if I’m self-isolating?

If you’re self-isolating, you should be entitled to your usual, contractual sick pay from your employer.

What is the rate of statutory sick pay (SSP)?

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is paid to an employee when they are too ill to work.

You qualify for SSP if you normally earn over £120 a week. If you have symptoms of coronavirus you will get £95.85 a week.

For more information and to find out if you're eligible for SSP visit Gov.uk.

SSP is now payable from your first day sick, not the fourth.

What if I’m self-employed and self-isolating?

For those self-employed, you can make a claim for Universal Credit and 'New Style' Employment and Support Allowance. Check the government websites for more details.

What if I am on furlough?

If you’ve been put on furlough by your employer, the government has confirmed you can get 80% of your wages, capped at £2,500 a month.

The current furlough scheme will run to October 2021, with a review of the policy in January.

For more information about being in furlough and the coronavirus job retention scheme, visit the dedicated government website.

What about Universal Credit and benefits?

Universal Credit is available for those on a low income (there is no longer a minimum) and who are unemployed. The amount has been increased due to the coronavirus.

The amount you get depends on various factors, such as age and if you live with anyone. You can apply for Universal Credit on the government website, but the process may take longer than usual.

I already claim Universal Credit and Housing Benefit

If you claim the Housing Benefit or Universal Credit you should also see an increase, as this is going up in line with rent costs.

Redundancy

I was made redundant

If you were made redundant before the government brought in the coronavirus job retention scheme, you may be able to get your job back and receive 80% of your pay as a ‘furloughed worker.’

You can challenge your redundancy by writing to your employer and appealing. You can write that the coronavirus job retention scheme means they can afford to pay you, so don’t need to be made redundant.

My employer won’t change my redundancy

If you can’t change the redundancy and won’t get paid, ask for a reason in writing and contact Citizens Advice for help.

I’m worried about losing my job

Companies have the option to make you ‘furloughed.’ This means you will take unpaid leave, but your employer can apply for the job retention scheme and you will receive 80% of your pay, up to £2,500 per month.

Self-employed and business owners

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme Grant Extension

Who can claim?

The government has announced they’ll be extending support to the self-employed and those working in partnerships. To be eligible, you must have been eligible for the previous grants, (although you don’t need to have taken them) and intend to continue to trade.

How to claim

The online service for claiming grants will open on the 30th November, with further details to be announced by HMRC and Gov.uk. For more information visit here.

I own my own business. What can I do?

The government wants to support business owners during this time, so new schemes and measures are in place.

The government has introduced a business interruption loan scheme. This involves small businesses applying for loans, overdrafts and more via their lender online.

All hospitality and leisure businesses will not pay business rates for the 2020/21 tax year. Some of these businesses may also get a grant. Businesses don’t need to do anything right now as the local authority will automatically apply the business rate holiday and contact your business if you qualify for the grant.

Some small businesses are also eligible for grants of £10,000. These are only available if you operate from a property and are based in England.

Businesses that qualify must pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief, rural rate relief, or tapered relief. Local authorities will write to businesses who qualify.

If you own a small business, find out more about the grants available and what you can do on this dedicated government website.

What if my employees are off sick?

If your employees took time off due to the Coronavirus, it’s now possible for them to get SSP for two weeks. All those with UK businesses with under 250 employees can qualify for this. The process is currently a work-in-progress.

Cashflow

If you’re concerned about cashflow at the moment, look at your current incomings and outgoings to see if there are ways to use savings, and reduce debt and interest.

Contact your lenders as soon as possible if you’re struggling with credit card, loan or mortgage payments.

Should I use my savings?

Using savings could be a good way to get out of debt and cover essential purchases. But, it will depend on your individual circumstances.

With the interest rate now at just 0.1%, you won’t see much return on your savings right now.

Some banks are allowing customers to access savings from fixed-rate accounts without a fee, but you might not find an interest rate as good right now if you want to put the money back into a savings account later.

What about credit card debt?

If you’re accumulating interest on a credit card, check your eligibility to move it to an interest-free balance transfer card. That means you can move the credit you’ve spent to another card and repay it over a set number of months — interest-free.

There is a transfer fee to move it, but this often works out cheaper than keeping the balance on your current card.

Check your eligibility for balance transfer cards

You’ll start paying interest on any leftover balance once the offer ends, so it’s a good idea to try and clear the balance by this time. Make sure you keep up with all your repayments, otherwise the offer could be taken away.

Some of these offers may be reduced in the coming months and it might be harder to get accepted, so it’s best to check sooner, rather than later, if this could be a good option for you.

Getting cash from your credit card

Many lenders are letting customers withdraw cash using their credit card, without being charged a cash advance fee. Check with your lender beforehand if you want to do this, and remember that interest will still be added

Pensions

State pensions are unaffected by the coronavirus. Other types of pensions may be affected by the fall in the stock market, as many pensions are invested in stocks and shares.

I’m worried about my pension

If you’re not near retirement age, you won’t need to worry as the market will likely recover before you retire.

If you have a pension, it’s likely that your pension is invested in different places, some being safer than others right now. You should be able to check with your pension company how it’s doing, or check your online account.

I’m not using my car

If you’re no longer using your card it’s ‘off road’ and you can claim some tax and insurance back. This is called Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). To qualify, you need to not be using the car, and keep it off a public road. You can apply online here.

This is also a useful thing to do if you were in the process of selling it but that’s now not possible in the current circumstances.

Debt

This is a troubling time for many and if you’re worried about getting into debt, or are already in a debt plan, there are charities that can offer help and advice.

What about persistent debt notices?

Persistent debt notices are sent to credit card customers who have paid more in interest and charges than they have paid off on their balance. In the notice, you’ll be asked to pay more or risk losing the card.

Debt charity Stepchange offers free help and advice to those struggling. They can guide you through sensitive matters, and have a host of information on their website about debt and coronavirus.

Their phone lines are still open but there are less staff working, so bear this in mind when calling.

Citizens Advice is also available to give free and confidential advice. They cover a range of issues, including debt. As well as guides and information online, you can talk to someone online and over the phone, though this may take longer than usual at the moment.

The Money Advice Service offer free and impartial money advice and have created a guide which explains how to work out and prioritise repayments to help you save money and clear debt quicker.

Check your free credit report

See six years of your credit history, and we’ll tell you why your credit score is what it is, plus how to improve it.

Get my free report now
CTA background TotallyMoney Logo