Coronavirus & your finances.

This page was last updated on 7th July 2020.

We’re here for you.

At MoneyPlus, we help people live better every day. We know that times can get tough, and we’re here to support you.

We’ve put together some information on what to do if you find yourself financially affected by the current coronavirus disruption, and how we may be able to help.

Because together, we can live better.

First things first.

Your health, and the health of those around you, is a top priority. If you find yourself affected by the coronavirus outbreak, either directly or indirectly, you must take steps to protect yourself and others, and always follow advice from the NHS.

Helpful advice, straight from the experts.

As the current situation unfolds, not knowing what is going to happen can be very stressful. Take a look at our advice below if you’re affected by the current coronavirus disruption.

Creditor help.

Below, you can find a list of help that is currently being offered by various creditors:

Homeowners. The availability of a three month mortgage holiday was first announced back in March as part of an unprecedented package of support for individuals, businesses and the economy. Over 1.8 million mortgage payment holidays were taken up, and the first of these came to an end in June.

If you can afford to re-start mortgage payments, it is in your best interest to do so. However, if you’re still struggling and need help, a full extension of the mortgage holiday for a further three months will be available as an option.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published new draft guidance for lenders which will set out the expectations for firms and the options available to their customers. This includes extending the application period for a mortgage holiday until 31 October so customers who have not yet had a payment holiday and are experiencing financial difficulty will be able to request one. The current lender ban on repossessions of homes will be continued to the same date.

Unsecured loans. You may be eligible to receive a three-month payment break if your income/finances have been negatively impacted by coronavirus. Always speak with your lender before stopping or reducing your payments.

Savings. You may be able to have early access to ISAs or savings accounts in exceptional circumstances. Some creditors have lifted the fees for releasing funds early to those who urgently need the money.

Credit cards. Some creditors may allow you to increase your credit card overdraft limits, increase cash withdrawal limits and refund advance fees however, this could negatively impact your credit score, so be sure to use this only as a last resort. You may also be able to apply for a credit card payment holiday up until 31st October 2020 however, you could still be charged interest.

Overdrafts. Overdrafts. If you have an arranged overdraft, some providers may offer 3 months interest free on arranged overdrafts up to the value of £500. To find out what your bank or building society is doing check their website.

If your current arranged overdraft is below £500, you may be able to not pay any interest on the amount of your current overdraft limit. You could also ask your provider to increase your overdraft limit to £500, subject to checks on affordability.

Payment holidays. Some councils are offering the option to take a payment holiday. To find out if you’re eligible, contact your local authority to find out what options are available.

The financial regulator have also announced that car finance borrowers should be offered up to a three-month repayment holiday. Firms don’t have to follow the measures, but the FCA says it expects them to, and adds that it can take enforcement action of they don’t treat customers fairly.

Customers that have not yet had a payment freeze will be able to request one up until 31 October 2020.

MOT extensions. With lockdown restrictions slowly being eased, mandatory MOT testing for cars, motorcycles and vans will restart across England, Scotland and Wales from Saturday 1st August. If your MOT is due before then, you will still receive the six-month extension granted to drivers since 30 March because of the pandemic.

Energy Advice

Every domestic supplier has made a commitment to the government that they will support customers who are finding themselves in financial hardship due to the current public health issue and are unable to pay for their gas and electricity supply.

This could be because you can’t get to a shop to top up because you are unwell or are in isolation, or you have lost your income and cannot afford to pay for a top up.

You are not alone in this, and your supplier will help you to keep your gas and electricity turned on. Make sure you contact them as quickly as you can to let them know of your situation.

Green Homes Grant Scheme

Under this new government scheme, vouchers worth up to £5,000 will be issued to homeowners in England to make their homes more energy efficient, helping to save on heating costs.

Eligible homeowners will be able to use the vouchers to pay for environmentally friendly improvements. This includes installing loft, floor and wall insulation or double-glazing.

Furlough schemes & Universal Credit.

It has been announced that the furlough scheme will be extended by a further four months (until 31st October), with workers continuing to receive 80% of their current salary.

From the start of August, furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff.

The employer payments will substitute the contribution the government is currently making, ensuring that staff continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month.

If you’re self-employed, the Universal Credit minimum payment floor has been temporarily lifted. This means that those who are self-employed will be entitled to the same Universal Credit payments as those who are not self-employed.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) – the Government grant to self-employed individuals whose businesses have been adversely affected by coronavirus – is made up of two grants.

The first grant opened for applications on Wednesday 13 May, and is worth up to 80% of profits, capped at £2,500 per month, or £7,500 in total.

Applications for the second grant opened on 17th August and works exactly the same as the first grant, though it'll be worth 70% of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment (it'll also be capped at £2,190 per month, or £6,570 in total).

You don't need to have claimed the first grant to receive the second grant. And if you've claimed the first, you can still claim the second as long as you're eligible - the eligibility criteria are the same for both grants, but you’ll need to confirm your business has been adversely affected by coronavirus on or after 14 July 2020 to claim the second grant.

The government has made changes to universal credit, including upping the monthly standard rate, removing the minimum income floor, and increasing the allowance for private renters who need help with housing costs. You can see if you are eligible to apply for Universal Credit here.

Whilst this is all a big help, you may find that government schemes and grants might not be enough to cover usual household bills and expenses, and with so many monthly outgoings, it can be a struggle to figure out which ones you should pay first.

Prioritising your outgoings.

We’ve listed below the priority bills for England, Wales and Scotland, so you know exactly where your priorities are.

For England & Wales

Debt What will happen if you don’t pay
Mortgage or secured loan Repossession and significant costs
Rent Eviction and significant costs
Council Tax Visit from bailiffs, wage deduction, benefits deduction, a debt secured against your home, bankruptcy or imprisonment (imprisonment doesn’t apply to Wales)
Child Maintenance Wage deduction, benefits deduction, visit from bailiffs, imprisonment
Magistrates Court Fines Visit from bailiffs, wage deduction, benefits deduction, imprisonment
Tax, VAT or National Insurance Visit from bailiffs, wage deduction, bankruptcy, County Court Judgement (CCJ)
County Court Judgement Visit from bailiffs, a charging order, wage deduction
TV licence A fine
Energy (gas and/or electricity) Disconnection of energy supply, benefits deduction
Hire purchase or logbook loan Repossession, County Court Judgement (CCJ)
Home phone or mobile phone Disconnection, County Court Judgement (CCJ)

For Scotland

Debt What will happen if you don’t pay
Mortgage or secured loan Repossession and significant costs
Rent Eviction and significant costs
Council Tax Assets removed from your property, money taken from your wage or bank account, bankruptcy, debts secured against your home
Child Maintenance Assets removed from your property, money taken from your wage or bank account, bankruptcy, debts secured against your home
Criminal fines Vehicle clamped or removed, money taken from your wage or bank account, benefits deduction, imprisonment
Tax, VAT or National Insurance Assets removed from your property, money taken from your bank account, bankruptcy, debt recovery through higher tax rate (PAYE tax code adjusted)
Decree Assets removed from your property, money taken from your wage or bank account, bankruptcy, debts secured against your home
TV licence A criminal fine
Energy (gas and/or electricity) Disconnection of energy supply, benefits deduction, decree
Hire purchase or logbook loan Repossession, decree
Home phone or mobile phone Disconnection, decree

Falling behind on your bill payments.

It’s important that you pay off your priority bills in full each month, as they can be quite difficult to reduce.

You may be able to arrange to have lower payments in place if you find yourself in financial difficulty. You can do this by speaking to your bank, lender or credit provider and explain to them that you’re in financial difficulties. If you’re seeking help from a debt advice organisation, let them know – most companies will give you between 30 to 60 days ‘breathing space’.

If you’re unable to keep on top of your priority bills due to too much debt, we may be able to help.

We offer expert debt advice, and can quickly and easily give you practical solutions that help you get your finances back on track.

By telling us about your finances and the debts you’re having problems with, we’ll build a plan to get you out of debt – a plan that’s right for you. We’ll then contact your creditors on your behalf, so you won’t have to worry about a thing.

You can read more about the different types of debt solutions we offer here .

Experiencing a change in your physical health.

In any cases of a change in physical health, it’s important that you review your finances and make changes where necessary.

You may be able to claim Statutory Sick Pay, which is £94.25 per week and can be paid for up to 28 weeks (you must earn up to £118 per week to qualify).

If you don’t qualify for Statutory Sick Pay, you may be eligible for Contributory Employment and support allowance, or Universal Credit.

Local Authorities are receiving an additional £500m for vulnerable people, and most of this is expected to be spent on council tax support schemes, so you may also be entitled to council tax or housing benefit.

Homeowners may be entitled to help from a government mortgage scheme.

Urgent help with money and food.

For emergency food supplies, you can access a local foodbank, which can provide you with a minimum of 3 days’ worth of emergency food to those in crisis. To be able to access a foodbank, you’ll first need to be referred by one of the following:

  • Jobcentre Plus
  • A social worker
  • Citizens Advice
  • Children’s centres
  • Local Authorities
  • Police or probation workers
  • GP’s or other medical professionals

You can get in touch with your local foodbank who can help arrange an appointment with one of the above services.

For emergency money, you may be eligible for your Local Authority’s Welfare Assistance Scheme, which is local funds distributed to people in crisis situations. These schemes are usually available to those on low incomes and are facing financial difficulty.

Depending on where you live in the UK, different emergency funding is available. You can get in touch with your local council/authority using the links below to find out what kind of financial support you’re eligible for.

If your income has been affected, you may be tempted to take out a loan. If you choose to do this, make sure you use a reputable lender, and always borrow money safely. It’s important that you continue to look after your physical, mental and financial health, and not borrow money from sources that could cause you to fall into debt.

Affected by school closures.

Nearly all children of legal school age will be expected to return to class full-time in September to "start to reverse the enormous costs of missed education”.

This includes those with special educational needs and disabilities, or who have been shielding during the pandemic.

Attendance will be mandatory again from the beginning of the autumn term, and head teachers will be told to follow up pupils' absence and issue sanctions, including fines in some cases.

Free school meals extension.

Under normal circumstances, schools do not provide free school meals to eligible children who are not in school. However, during the coronavirus outbreak, there will be a temporary extension to free school meals, and schools are encouraged to continue supporting children eligible for benefits-related free school meals who are at home.

You can apply for free school meals vouchers here.

When times get tough, we’re here to help.

If your household bills begin to increase and you’re struggling to pay them, you can always switch to a cheaper provider.

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Our energy bill shows you exactly what makes up the amount that you pay and, on average, our customers save over £500 each per year on their energy bills*.

If you want to see how much you could save on your energy bill, just head over to moneyplusenergy.com and get a quote!

Mental wellbeing.

If you’re feeling anxious about the impact of coronavirus on your finances, there are multiple organisations you can get in touch with that can offer you expert mental health support.

Click on the links below to find out more information.