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    Coronavirus and your finances: h...

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 released new guidance so banks and lenders are able to give customers who are struggling a three month break from payments. You have until 31st October to ask for a payment holiday from your lender.

You should only take a three month break if you really need to. Interest will still be added so your payments afterwards will likely increase. If possible, making smaller payments is better, so you should do this if you can.

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

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.


You can find the application form for a payment holiday below. Click the name of the bank to go to their website. If your mortgage 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 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.

But, if you are still struggling and can’t start making payments again, the Financial Conduct Authority has announced that customers can ask their bank to extend their payment holiday for another three months.



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

If you have an agreement with your lender, such as a repayment holiday or reduced payments, it won’t affect your credit score. This includes if you ask for another three month payment holiday.

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

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.



I need a bigger credit limit

Some lenders are offering credit limit increases to help people through this difficult time. Get in touch with your credit card provider to see if they can give you one. Make sure you only borrow what you can afford to repay.



What if it’s a new credit card?

If you recently applied for a credit card and were approved, but are now struggling with paying the balance because of coronavirus, you should still be able to get the payment holiday.

If you are in this situation, contact your bank or lender as soon as possible.



I need a credit card


A good option right now might be a purchase card. Purchase cards give you a set number of months of interest-free spending, which means you won’t pay interest on anything you buy.


Before you apply, it’s best to check your eligibility, to see how likely you are to be accepted. Then you can apply for a card you’re most likely to get and avoid being rejected.

Check my eligibility

If you’re not eligible for a purchase card, you might be eligible for other credit cards to help you spread your costs over the next few months.

Think carefully before applying for credit, choose the right product for your situation and keep up your repayments, otherwise the offer could be taken away.

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.



I’m paying too much interest on my credit card balance


If you’re paying interest on your credit card, you could move the balance to an interest-free balance transfer card.

A balance transfer lets you move your balance to another card where you don’t have to pay interest on it for a certain time. Always check your eligibility first, so you can go for something you’re likely to get accepted for.

Check your eligibility now

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

Some lenders are withdrawing their offers at the moment, which means you could see less options than before. Now’s a good time to check and apply if you need to.

If you’re not eligible for a balance transfer card, get in touch with your lender and talk through your options.



I can’t pay my loan

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has released new guidance so banks and lenders are able to give customers who are struggling a three month break from payments. You have until 31st October to ask for a payment holiday from your lender.

You should only take a three month break if you really need to. Interest will still be added so your payments afterwards will likely increase. If possible, making smaller payments is better, so you should do this if you can.

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


You can find the application form for a 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
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 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.

But, if you are still struggling and can’t start making payments again, the Financial Conduct Authority has announced that customers can ask their bank to extend their payment holiday for another three months.



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

If you have an agreement with your lender, such as a repayment holiday or reduced payments, it won’t affect your credit score.

If you miss a payment without an agreement in place, it will be treated as a missed payment and could harm your score. This includes if you ask for another three month payment holiday.

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

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.



I have an overdraft — is it okay to use it?

Yes you can use it. But, if you are struggling to pay off your overdraft, there are some new measures in place to help. Under guidance from the Financial Conduct Authority, banks and lenders can give customers with an arranged overdraft up to £500 interest-free for three months. You can apply for this until 31st October. If you have an overdraft of more than this amount, only the first £500 is interest-free. If you have less than this amount, for example, £250, you will only get £250 interest-free. If you want to increase your overdraft limit to £500, you will need to contact your lender to apply for an increase. This means the lender will do some extra checks. If you’re struggling and need this three interest-free offer, contact your lender as soon as possible. This will not happen automatically, you need to talk to your lender to arrange it.



How do I get a £500 interest-free overdraft for three months?

You should contact your lender as soon as possible if you need a £500 interest-free overdraft. This will not happen automatically, you need to talk to your lender to arrange it. If you currently have an overdraft of more than £500, only the first £500 is interest-free. If you have less than this amount, for example, £250, you will only get £250 interest-free. If you want to increase your overdraft limit to £500, you will need to contact your lender to apply for an increase. This means the lender will do some extra checks.



What happens after the three months?

After three months, the £500 interest-free overdraft will come to an end. If you are still struggling with payments because of coronavirus, you can request another three months interest-free up to £500. Lenders should also consider lowering the interest rate for anything over £500.



How much interest will I pay after £500?

This depends on your bank.

But, given the current situation, the FCA have advised that banks and lenders should make sure customers are not worse off after the changes. Visit your lender’s website to check what your new overdraft charges will be.

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

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

If you’re on a loan 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 recieve a letter, check your credit report to see if your payment holiday has been classed as a missed payment. If it has, contact your lender as soon as possible.



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.

The Financial Conduct Authority has released new guidance for these companies. It means you can request a three month extension of your promotional interest-free period if you have been impacted by the coronavirus.

That means you have more time to make your repayments without any added interest.



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?

If you’re struggling to pay a rent to own agreement, you can apply for a three month payment break. This covers RTO agreements such as TVs, dishwashers and fridges.

The guidance from the Financial Conduct Authority says RTO companies should offer customers a three month payment break, and repossession shouldn’t happen if a customer needs the goods during this time. For example, you will need a fridge.


Will I still be charged interest?

Yes, on a payment break 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 break.

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.


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


What about payday loans?

The Financial Conduct Authority has also given guidance to payday loan firms. If you have a loan with a payday firm and are struggling to repay, you can apply for a one month interest-free payment break.


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

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has also released guidance for pawnbrokers. If you can’t pay your pawnbroker, the FCA says the broker should extend the redemption period by three months. So, you will have a three month payment break before you need to pay the pawnbroker.

If your contract has ended and you’ve not been able to repay and get your pawn, the pawnbroker should agree not to sell the item for three months.If you’ve already had a notice that the item will be sold, you can ask to stop this.

Contact your pawnbroker as soon as possible if you’re having problems making your payment.


Will interest be added during the payment break?

Yes, pawnbrokers can still charge interest while you have an extra three months to repay.


I can’t pay my car finance loan

The Financial Conduct Authority has introduced new measures for car finance agreements. If you’re struggling to make payments, you can now apply for a three month payment break. You have until 31st October to ask for a payment holiday from your car finance lender.

Car finance companies have also been told to act fairly. This means not starting the process of repossessing, ending agreements, or changing contracts if customers are currently in financial difficulties due to coronavirus. This includes a ban on repossessing cars until 31st October.

If you’re currently in a car finance deal and need to apply for the payment break, contact the lender or dealer as soon as possible. It will not happen automatically.



Will I still pay interest?

If approved for a payment break, 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 break 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.

But, if you are still struggling and can’t start making payments again, the Financial Conduct Authority has announced that customers can ask their lender to extend their payment holiday for another three months.


Will the car finance payment break affect my credit score?

If you have an agreed payment break 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 break 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 break 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

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.




Your car and MOT

I can't pay my car finance

If you’re currently in a car finance deal, contact the lender or dealer if you’re worried about missing a payment. Some are now offering payment holidays similar to those you can get for a mortgage.

At the end of the payment holiday, the lender will increase the remaining payments slightly to cover the missed payments.



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.




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 April 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


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.

Licence fee charges for over 75s have been delayed until August.



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 for at least three months.

This is not an eviction ban. It just means landlords have to wait longer before they can get the ball rolling. They won’t be able to start now until the middle of June.

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

It’s currently not clear how the government will protect tenants once these three months are over.



What happens after three months?

Landlords and tenants will be expected to work together and come up with an affordable repayment plan.

Landlords will need to consider tenants’ personal circumstances. Tenants are encouraged to keep conversations going with their landlord, and to make rent contributions where they can.




Mortgage repayments

I can’t pay my mortgage

The banks have agreed with the government to give homeowners a three-month mortgage holiday to those who need it.

If you have lost your job or now have much less income due to coronavirus, this could give you some much-needed breathing space and help you get back on your feet.

Buy-to-let mortgages are also eligible for this payment holiday.



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


Will a mortgage holiday affect my credit score?

If you have an agreement with your lender, such as a mortgage holiday, it won’t affect your credit score.

If you miss a mortgage 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

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 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. 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

As most live sport is now postponed, many services, such as Sky and BT Sports, are allowing customers to temporarily stop payments. 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.




Planned events

If you cancelled an event, such as a wedding or baptism, in April or early May, you may be able to get a refund. Those planning events later in the year will need to follow appropriate guidance as it changes, and consider what's best.


Can I get a refund or deposit back?

Check your cancellation and refund policies for the venue, caterer and various other suppliers. If you have insurance, you should also check with your provider what is covered.

Some insurance providers have confirmed they will cover cancellations if a wedding or reception is closed because of the restrictions.

If you don’t have insurance, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get any now.



What if one of the suppliers collapses?

If one of your suppliers collapses due to Coronavirus, check with your insurance if you’re covered.

If you don’t have wedding insurance, you may be able to get some of the money back if you booked on a credit card as all purchases between £100 and £30,000 will be covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.



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)?

You qualify for SSP if you normally earn over £118 a week. If you have symptoms of coronavirus you will get £94.25 a week of SSP.

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?

Some companies have put employees on furlough. This means you’re not working as the company is temporarily closed, or can’t afford to have all its employees working at the moment.

If you’ve been put on furlough, the government has confirmed you can get 80% of your wages, capped at £2,500, a month through the Coronavirus job retention scheme. Wages will be backdated to March 1st. Your employer will organise this for you.

You can be put on furlough if you’re a worker in a PAYE system, even if you’re on a zero hour contract.

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



My child’s school is closed

If you’re a key worker (NHS, emergency services, supermarket worker), you can send your children to school. You can see a full list of key workers here.

Companies can now put you on furlough if you need to take time off to look after your children at home. Speak to your employer to see if this is possible. If you can’t be put on furlough, parents are entitled to take time off in this situation, but this may not all be paid.



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

I’m self-employed but no longer working. What can I do?

The government announced that self-employed workers can claim 80% of their monthly earnings, averaged over the last three years, and capped at £2,500 a month.



What if I’ve been self-employed for less than 3 years?

If you’ve been self-employed for less than three years, the average monthly earnings will be calculated from the entire time you have been self-employed.



Is everyone eligible?

Not quite. You must have an annual income of less than £50,000 and more than half of it must be from your self-employed work. You also must have filed a tax return for the 2018/19 tax year.



How do I apply?

HMRC will contact everyone who is eligible and you’ll have to complete an online form. See more details here.

The money should be paid at the beginning of June. The figure will cover March, April and May earnings.



What can I do in the meantime?

If you’re self-employed with no work, you can apply for Universal Credit, which is being increased. You can do this online.



What about taxes for this financial year?

Self-employed workers will be able to defer payments for 2019/20 until January 2021, giving you longer to pay.



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.




Your car and MOT

I can't pay my car finance

If you’re currently in a car finance deal, contact the lender or dealer if you’re worried about missing a payment. Some are now offering payment holidays similar to those you can get for a mortgage.

At the end of the payment holiday, the lender will increase the remaining payments slightly to cover the missed payments.



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 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.



My MOT is due

The government is giving people a six month MOT extension for all that are due on or after 30th March. But, vehicles that failed a previous MOT will not be granted an extension.

All vehicles must be kept in a roadworthy condition and garages will be open for urgent repairs.




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.
If you’ve been sent one of these notices but can’t increase payments right now, the Financial Conduct Authority has relaxed the rules, meaning customers don’t need to respond until the beginning of October. But, you should contact your lender if you’ve received one and are worried about increasing payments now.



I’m worried about getting into debt

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.

Visit the Stepchange website

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.

Visit the Citizens Advice website