Coronavirus and your finances: what help can you get?
The coronavirus outbreak has understandably left many people worried about their finances and anxious about what will happen to their jobs, mortgages and general household bills.
To help you understand your rights and what financial assistance is out there for you, we’ve put together this guide linking you to all the latest news.
We’ll be updating this page regularly as the situation changes and new announcements are made.
Under emergency legislation, the government has confirmed no renter in either social or private accommodation can be evicted from their home. Click here for more.
Mortgage lenders will allow borrowers who are concerned about being able to meet their mortgage repayments to take three months of payment holidays. Payment holidays are also open to landlords whose tenants have been financially affected by coronavirus. Click here for more.
The City Watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority plans to require firms to protect credit ratings so a payment freeze won’t impact rating. A number of credit reference agencies have confirmed that consumer credit scores will be protected when people have agreed ‘payment holidays’ in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jobs and wages
The government has unveiled a ‘coronavirus job retention scheme’ to prevent mass layoffs during the crisis. It will reimburse 80% of ‘furloughed’ workers’ wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. All UK businesses are eligible. Click here for more.
This also applies to workers who were made redundant as a result of coronavirus, and employers can also re-recruit staff who left to start a new job, which fell through, and furlough them under the scheme.
The government has also announced the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) allowing those eligible to receive a taxable grant worth 80% of average monthly profits based on the last three years of tax returns, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month. While this scheme will be available from June, the self-employed will be able to access Universal Credit before then. See here for more.
The government and energy industry have agreed a package of measures to ensure the most vulnerable people remain supplied by gas and electricity during the coronavirus pandemic. Measures include pausing debt and bill payments. Click here for more.
There has been no official guidance for people worried about meeting their car loan repayments, however experts believe lenders will show leniency and Financial Conduct Authority rules state lenders must treat customers in arrears fairly. Click here for more.
Overdrafts and loans
The banking trade body, UK Finance, says banks and building societies will give extra support to borrowers worried about their financial situation by either pausing loan repayments or extending overdrafts. Telephone lines are extremely busy at the moment, so customers are urged to check their bank or building society’s website first.
The FCA has proposed a number of measures (expected to come into force on 9 April), including:
- Those hit financially by coronavirus who already have an arranged overdraft on their main personal current account, will be charged 0% on up to £500 for up to three months. Customers without an overdraft on their main personal current account are able to request this.
- Firms to ensure overdraft customers are no worse off on price than before recent overdraft changes came into force.
Rail passengers with advanced or season tickets will get a full refund. Contact either your train company or independent ticket retailer – wherever you bought your ticket originally. Click here for more.
Drivers can continue to use their vehicles even if their MOT has expired. Car, motorbike and van drivers will be given a six-month MOT exemption (from 30 March) so that they can carry out essential journeys such as to work (frontline staff/key workers), shops to buy food or to help a vulnerable person.
Annual tests for heavy goods vehicles such as lorries, buses and trailers were suspended for up to three months on 21 March. Click here for more.
If you are off work because you have to self-isolate, you should be eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP). The government has introduced emergency measures which mean you’ll get SSP from the first day you are off work, rather than the fourth. Click here for more.
Gift card and vouchers
If you’ve a voucher or gift card you’re unable to use or a firm is offering credit instead of cash for a cancelled or postponed good or service, you don’t have to accept it. Consumers are entitled to their money back. See here for more on your consumer rights.