21 ways to fix your finances due to coronavirus – and you could save thousands – The Sun
HOUSEHOLDS across the UK have had their finances battered by the coronavirus crisis.
But whether you've lost your job, seen your income slashed or been too ill to work there may be help available to you.
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Whether that's via coronavirus specific government schemes or help from your service providers, we round-up what you need to know.
We also look at the benefits and grants you might be able to claim.
It's also worth pointing out that the UK's three credit reference agencies have agreed not to let coronavirus-related payment holidays affect your credit score.
But if you take out new credit, increase your borrowing or stop making payments without first agreeing it with your provider or lender then your score could take a hit.
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Apply for workplace coronavirus help schemes
1. Check if you're eligible for £94.25 a week sick pay
If you have coronavirus or any other type of sickness, you can get £98.85 a week statutory sick pay (SSP) if you’re too ill to work.
It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks, so check if you're eligible.
2. Can you be furloughed and still earn up to £2,500 a month?
If you're in good health but you can't work because of coronavirus, the government's furlough scheme will pay 80 per cent of your wages, up to £2,500 a month if your workplace has closed due to coronavirus.
Employers have to apply for the scheme rather than employees, so if you're unsure, ask your boss if you're eligible.
Just this week the government extended the scheme to apply to those in employment up to and including March 19, 2020 – up from the previous February 28, 2020 cut-off.
A similar scheme paying the same amount is also available to the self-employed.
It will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80 per cent of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.
HMRC aims to contact eligible self-employed workers by mid May 2020, and will make payments by early June 2020.
3. Small business owners can apply for coronavirus loans
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) helps small and medium-sized businesses with an annual turnover of up to £45million, to access loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5million for up to six years.
The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees.
You need to apply directly via your bank – the British Business Bank website includes further details on the lenders signed up to the scheme and what you need to apply.
4. Rate cuts and grants for hospitality firms
All businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will not have to pay business rates for the 2020/2021 tax year.
You do not need to take any action as your local council will apply the discount automatically.
Some may also be eligible for grants of up to £25,000, which their local authority will be in touch to pay if they're eligible.
5. Delay VAT payments and self-assessment filing
If you’re a UK VAT registered business and have a VAT payment due between March 20, 2020 and June 30, 2020, you can defer the payment until March 31, 2021.
You don't need to tell HMRC that you're doing this, but you do need to file your VAT return on time as normal.
If you pay tax via self-assessment tax returns you now have until January 31, 2021 to make your second payment on account.
This has been due by July 31, 2020.
Check if you're due benefits and grants
6. Check if you can claim at least £343 a month in Universal Credit
If your circumstances have changed as a result of the coronavirus crisis, for example, you've lost your job, you may now be eligible for Universal Credit.
Universal Credit rolls six legacy benefits into one.
How much you'll get depends on your circumstances, but the minimum standard allowance is £342.72 a month.
This month the government boosted both Universal Credit and the legacy housing benefit by £1,000 a year.
The government has also ensured that from this month both benefits will cover at least 30 per cent of market rents in each area.
It's also temporarily gotten rid of the minimum income floor for the self-employed.
7. Could you get child benefit worth £1,100 a year and other benefits?
If your wages have been cut or you've lost your job you may now be eligible for child benefit worth at least £1,100 a year.
See our child benefit guide for more on this and how to apply.
Also use charity Turn2Us' benefits checker tool to check you're not missing out on anything else if your circumstances have changed.
8. Search for grants
Use charity Turn2Us' grant finder tool to ensure you're not missing out on any non-repayable cash.
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You'll often have to meet certain requirements depending on where you live, your age, and what the money is going towards but it's worth checking.
9. Fee-free access to savings
If you have savings locked away in fixed accounts where you're normally penalised for early access, you may be allowed to get hold of your cash without being charged.
Many banks are waiving these fees – check with yours.
Get help with household bills
Below is a round-up of the coronavirus-specific help being offered to struggling households.
But if you've got time, also use this as an opportunity to check you're getting the most for your money.
A free search using a comparison tool will show you if you can switch and save, and you can do it all online in a matter of minutes.
10. Pause Sky Sports and BT Sport
Sky is allowing customers with Sky Sports TV to pause subscriptions during the coronavirus lockdown and continue watching channels.
TalkTalk is also allowing Sky Sports customers to pause subscriptions and BT Sport users to get two month's refund, while Virgin Media is allowing both BT Sport and Sky Sports users to pause bills.
11. Get council tax discounts and payment holidays
Working age people who get Council Tax Support will be able to get £150 a year off bills.
Some councils are also offering payment holidays – so get in touch with yours if you're worried about meeting payments.
12. Talk to your energy provider
Energy providers are offering help on a case by case basis, so get in touch if you're struggling.
Examples of help being offered include payment holidays and the removal of debt charges.
Meanwhile, customers with prepayment meters who aren't able to leave their home to top up will be able to ask their supplier to keep them connected, the government has announced.
Bill payments could also be reassessed, reduced or paused where necessary.
13. Free mobile data for NHS workers and the vulnerable
EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone have zero rated data and calls to NHS Services.
EE is also giving its vulnerable and disabled customers free calls, texts and data, while NHS workers can also get unlimited data for six months.
Meanwhile, Vodafone is offering 500,000 customers and vulnerable people free unlimited internet data for 30 days.
14. Over 75s can still get free TV Licence
The BBC has announced it's putting the scrapping of free TV Licences for the over 75s on hold due to the coronavirus.
15. Water providers are offering payment holidays
Regulator Ofwat told The Sun support available at all firms includes payment holidays and payment matching.
The latter means that if you've built up a lot of debt, for every £1 you repay, for example, your supplier will pay £1 too. Talk to your supplier to find out what you can get.
16. Get a three-month mortgage payment holiday
Mortgage lenders have been told by the government to offer a three-month "mortgage holiday" for those in financial difficulty due to the outbreak.
Check out our guide on what individual banks are doing and how to apply for a repayment holiday.
Just be aware that your repayments will rise afterwards.
Home movers have also been given up to three months to extend mortgages due to coronavirus.
17. Landlords might offer rent help
The government says landlords in England and Wales can't evict tenants until September 30, 2020, and it may extend this deadline if need be.
In the meantime, if you're struggling, private renters should speak to their landlord and social renters should speak to their housing association
They may be willing to defer payment for a while or allow you to pay a smaller amount until you can get back on your feet.
See our rent guide for more information.
18. Apply for insurance payment holidays and policy refunds
Some providers, including Aviva, Churchill and Direct Line are offering home and car insurance customers up to three month repayment holidays if you ask.
If you're not using your car because of lockdown you may be able to claim a partial refund on your insurance – here's what you need to know.
Similarly, people with single trip travel insurance policies may also be able to claim a refund given they're advised not to leave the UK – here's how to get a refund.
Apply for payment holidays from debts
19. Get repayment holidays on credit cards, loans and payday loans
Credit card and loan providers are offering help on a case by case basis, but it includes repayment holidays, waiving fees, and setting up tailored repayment plans.
See our payday loans and IVAs guide for more information.
20. Overdraft fees and interest waived up to £500
Many banks are automatically waiving interest and fees on existing overdrafts up to £500.
A host of major providers have also temporarily cut overdraft interest rates beyond the interest-free period too.
21. Ask for car finance loans to be frozen
There's no industry wide help available for car finance borrowers so you'll need to speak to your provider.
But some are offering to delay payments and freeze interest for two months.
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