Money need-to-knows for the self-employed, employees, homes with kids, renting and more
As we’re receiving new UK Coronavirus news every day, Martin Lewis has answered 19 questions on protecting your finances, bills and income during Coronavirus self-isolation.
Aside from one outdoor exercise, necessary work, medical appointments, caring and groceries, we should all be staying inside to help stem the curve of Covid-19. We’ve noted many of you worrying about finance, or questioning what to do next. Fortunately, Martin Lewis answered some vital questions for you, and we’ve added in the newest updates at the time of writing. Bookmark this page so you can access these tips when you need them.
1. How school closures affect me
All schools are closed, with the exception of children of key workers and vulnerable children. If you aren’t a key worker, you have the right to take time off work to look after your children. However, you legally have no right to be paid during this time. If you’re a grandparent and do not live in the same household, you unfortunately shouldn’t be seeing the kids. Why not give them a video call or phone call instead?
2. I’m employed but can’t go to work
If you aren’t a key worker but also can’t work from home, you should simply self-isolate. The UK government are running the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, so if your employers aren’t already doing so, they should put their employees on furlough so the government can cover 80% of your salary up to £2,500 per month.
3. I’m self-employed but can’t go to work
Panic has been growing amongst the self-employed community as it’s difficult to survive on Universal Credit. Fortunately, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to unveil measures at some point this week, with news pointing towards the same 80% pay, so hold on.
4. I lost my job before the rention scheme was announced
Many panicking employers unfortunately laid off employees before any payment plans came into place. Speak to your firm if this is the case- they can take you back on and furlough you.
5. I’m struggling to pay my rent
If you’re struggling to pay rent, speak to your landlord. Emergency legislation has banned landlords from evicting for 3 months, and you can also get help with your bills, which we’ve mentioned below.
6. I’m struggling to pay my mortgage
If you own your property and are struggling to pay, you could be eligible for a 3 month mortgage holiday- including buy-to-let mortgages for private landlords. You can apply for this online, and get a response within minutes. The UK base rate has also been cut to 0.1%- good news for those on variable rates and trackers!
7. I need help with my energy and water bill
With energy bills, disconnections have been suspended and many are pushing back bill dates, with British Gas removing late payment charges too. Keep an eye out for water bill announcements too- they’re set to step in and provide help.
8. I need help with my Council Tax
Speak to your local authority if you’re struggling- some councils are offering to defer payments.
9. What if I can’t get to my MOT?
Vehicle owners will be granted MOT exemption for 6 months, starting on the 30th March. You should still stay at home and limit driving as much as possible, and your car should still be in a road-worthy condition.
10. What if I can return something I’ve bought?
Almost all shops are extending their return policies- you should take a look at the FAQs on each site or contact their customer service to find out more.
11. Can I get refunds on events, flights and holidays?
Good news- you should receive a refund or new date for all events cancelled by Coronavirus. When package holidays and flights are cancelled, you must have a full refund. Firms are trying to offer vouchers instead, so stand your ground if you want cash instead.
12. Any other tips for finances?
Finally, many banks are allowing you to access your fixed savings with no penalties, as usually you’d have a fee to pay if you access this before your fixed term is up. If you have money in savings and are struggling, consider taking some out of your ISAs and bank accounts.
Do you have any other finance tips to pass onto our community? Please do leave a comment with your tips to help everyone out. Stay safe.