What financial help could I get during the coronavirus outbreak?
Navigating all the different information about the coronavirus can feel overwhelming. Here we look at some of the ways you may be able to get financial help.
Credit products (mortgage, loan, credit card)
You can apply for payment breaks online with most lenders, or you can give them a call. A payment break is exactly that – you won’t need to pay for a short period of time agreed between you and your lender. If you want a payment break on products from different lenders, you’ll need to speak to each lender to arrange one. It’s important to note that interest will still apply during the break, and you’ll need to make arrangements to resume paying at some agreed point in the future.
The good news is that the main credit reference agencies that hold your credit information – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – have promised that so long as you arrange a payment break with the lender, there won’t be any impact to your credit score when you don’t pay during the time agreed.
When each payment break comes to an end, it’ll be your responsibility to resume paying at the same rate as before, unless you request an extension or arrange to repay in a different way.
For that reason, it’s worth making a note of when each payment break you arrange is due to end so that you can make sure you’ve got plenty of time to request an extension, ask about changing the way you repay or resume payments as before.
If you have a mortgage, speak with your mortgage provider, they might agree to pause your mortgage payments for 3 months. This is called a 'payment deferral'.
You can defer either:
- the whole of your monthly payment
- some of your monthly payment and pay the rest
You’ll need to ask your mortgage provider for a payment deferral before 31 March 2021.
If you pay rent
If you think you’re going to struggle to pay rent either now or in the coming months, it’s worth contacting your landlord. Your landlord might be able to offer you a payment break, or give you more time to pay or the opportunity to catch up on payments in instalments.
You may also be entitled to benefits to help with housing costs if your income has reduced, even if you’re still working.
If you pay council tax
You might qualify for a council tax reduction if your income has dropped or if you started claiming benefits recently.
You should contact your local council to see if you qualify for a council tax reduction.
If you don’t think you qualify, it’s still worth asking your local council if you can get a council tax reduction telling them if you’re struggling to pay – they might let you pay less for a while or pay over a longer time. You can find your local council on GOV.UK.
If you pay for broadband or other subscriptions
You can contact your broadband provider and ask for a payment break. You can do the same with some subscription services.
If you’ve lost your job
If your employer has made you redundant and you need support, you should make it a priority to apply for Universal Credit.
Universal Credit is a payment that’s designed to help people with low or no income with living costs. It replaces a series of other benefits you might have heard of before, such as housing benefit, income support, and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
You can see if you’re eligible here.
If you’re self-employed
You may be able to claim for a grant through the coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme. It’s been set up by the government to help self-employed people who are impacted by the coronavirus but don’t have access to the furloughing support provided to people who are employed directly by an organisation.
You can see if you’re eligible for a grant here.
If you’re furloughed
When you’re furloughed, it means there’s no longer work for you to do at the organisation you work for but you’ve been kept on their payroll with the aim of resuming your work when there’s work for you to do again.
During the coronavirus outbreak, the government has stepped in to help companies avoid making lots of people redundant by providing companies with 80% wages for each employee who would otherwise have been laid off, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month before tax for each employee. This allows companies to retain staff and means the staff still get at least 80% of their income up to that limit.
So if you’re employed on a standard contract and your company tells you that you’re being furloughed, you should still get paid up to 80% of your salary up to £2,500 before tax without having to do anything yourself – your company will claim the money back from the government.
You can find out the latest information about furlough support here, including how long the government is keeping the support in place.
If your salary has reduced as a result of being furloughed, you might be eligible for Universal Credit. You can see if you’re eligible here.
If you’ve got the coronavirus (COVID-19) or you’re self-isolating and can’t work
If you work for a company and were previously eligible for statutory sick pay, you should be eligible for it if you get ill with COVID-19 or if you have to self-isolate and can’t work. If you’re eligible, you can get sick pay back-dated to the day you first got ill or started self-isolating and couldn’t work. You can check if you’re eligible for statutory sick pay here.
You may also be eligible for more than the statutory amount of sick pay if your employer chooses to pay more. You can find out if your employer pays more by checking your contract or asking them.
Other things that could be useful
While we want to be as helpful as possible, we can’t give financial advice and guidance tailored to your specific circumstances. If your situation isn’t covered here or you simply need more help, here are some organisations and resources that could be useful.