Corona-Finance: Money

Corona-Finance: Money

I’ve lost my income due to coronavirus. I can’t pay my rent. What help is available?

Check if you can get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay

If not, you may be entitled to benefits, so check and apply as soon as you can. Check here https://benefits-calculator.turn2us.org.uk/AboutYou to see what benefits you can apply for.

You can check if you are eligible for Universal Credit here https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit and you can apply for Universal Credit here: https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit

There is also information on applying for New Style ESA here
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-style-employment-and-support-allowance
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-style-employment-and-support-allowance-detailed-guide.

The government has put a hold on all new evictions for 3 months, and it is always worth discussing your situation with your landlord. For more information on your rights as an employee, check here https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus

And for housing advice, check the Shelter website https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/coronavirus#Rent_payment_problems

I’ve lost my job and can’t pay my upcoming bank loan instalment. Is there any help available?

In the first instance, contact your Bank – check for the guidance on your Bank’s website, many banks are asking for customers to contact them on social media and email. The phone they are reserving for vulnerable people who do not have access to the internet.

Banks are helping by giving people extensions to loans, mortgage holidays of 3 months, instant access to savings such as ISA’s and savings that would usually be tied into agreements.

For more information on the kind of help available from banks, check here: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/03/uk-coronavirus-help-and-your-rights/#producthelp

Will my bank do anything to help me get through this?

According to the Money and Pension Serivce, a number of banks have offered help including increased credit limits on cards and cash withdrawal limits, as well as potential credit card repayment ‘holidays’.

As with all credit, just because we’re offered it, doesn’t mean we have to take it, but an emergency is an emergency. It pays to be cynical when banks offer to help us out because the more we’re in debt, the more money they make.

See more on which banks are stepping up here: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/coronavirus-what-it-means-for-you#coronavirus-and-your-money

I’ve bought a ticket for a festival that’s now been cancelled. Can I get a refund?

Each festival will have its policy; it is worth checking in with them. Glastonbury, for example, announced it would roll over the tickets purchased for 2020 for entry to Glastonbury 2021.

If you bought your ticket from an official seller, then you should be entitled to a refund if the event is cancelled or postponed. However, this may not be the case if you bought from a re-selling site or private seller, this may not be possible.

Find more info here: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/event-tickets/event-tickets/getting-a-refund-on-an-event-ticket/

Some shops are refusing payments in cash because of Coronavirus, but I don’t have a card – what can I do?

Some shops are going ‘cash-free’ as a way to try and stop the spread of Coronavirus. If you can’t get (or don’t want) a regular debit card, you could consider getting a prepaid card.

There are sometimes fees with prepaid cards so make sure to do your research! To read more about prepaid cards, check out this article on uSwitch and see Money Saving Expert’s top prepaid card picks.

Coronavirus means I’m not earning. I am going to fall into debt. Fast. Help.

Okay. Take a moment and try not to panic. (We know that can be hard.)

The first thing we recommend is doing taking a quick money health-check, which the Quids in! Future-Proof Your Finances Test can take us through. It’s a list of simple yes/no questions to help us identify anything we might try to keep costs down and income up. At the end, it explains why it’s good to try the things we don’t yet have in place and offers some guidance on where to start.

We might be able to save money somewhere but there could also be extra income we can get hold of, like emergency benefits or grants. (Are you in East London, Gloucestershire or Bath & North East Somerset? If so, you can call your local Quids In Centre who will be happy to go through the money health-check with you. The Centres are run by Clean Slate.

Usually, the first three steps for protecting ourselves against debt is to: (1) List our income and all our outgoings to see how short we might be; (2) Look at what can be cut or where extra cash could come in; (3) Contact any companies, landlords or official bodies we owe money to and explain the situation and ask them to help; (4) Contact Stepchange Debt Charity or National Debtline if we feel we’re unable to keep on top of debts. (See our Useful Links page here).

I have the kids off school and no money. We are going crazy in the house, we don’t have a garden – none of us are ill. We tried to go to the park but it’s small and everyone had the same idea and the kids just all want to go on the swings and slides so we had to bail. Is anything else open?

Currently, the National Trust has now closed all of its car parks and gated gardens, as well as the cafes and houses.  Car parks are open only to key workers with a permit.

Please check if there is a place near to you and if they are open as things are changing rapidly. You must not have symptoms and maintain social distancing.

Read more: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/press-release/the-national-trusts-latest-statement-on-coronavirus-covid-19.

There are lots of resources online that are free – a good place to look is Twinkl, which has a home learning support page, weekly planners and a mountain of printouts and ideas. https://www.twinkl.co.uk/

You can also check out Mumsnet for a list of other free resources and links: https://www.mumsnet.com/swearsby/best-online-learning-resources#free-resources

Many childrens’ authors and illustrators are running online drawing, story writing and poetry tutorials for free on Youtube, and if you need to wear them out, Joe Wicks is running a youtube exercise class for kids (and adults!) every school day morning at 9am https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAxW1XT0iEJo0TYlRfn6rYQ

I don’t have much food in and I’m scared I’ll be asked to self-isolate. It sounds like all the supermarket shelves are bare anyway. What is your advice?

We can understand why people buy in a panic but it isn’t helpful when we all need to eat and keep clean. While you’re able to get around, pick up what you can, when you can. Start with the long-life stuff, (which is why people went crazy for dried pasta and tinned foods).

Shops are re-stocking constantly, so don’t despair. One idea is to look at booking a supermarket delivery online. They’re stretched at the moment so it can be as much as a week before they’re able to get supplies to us. Once booked, see how long we can keep adding to the shopping basket for. (Sainsbury’s, for example, allows shoppers to keep changing their order until 11pm the night before delivery.) At least we’re on their delivery schedule. It’s possible that a lot might be out of stock but be prepared to consider alternatives: No mince, buy meat that can easily be diced by hand. No cabbage or spinach, could sprouts make a change. Get creative or try some new recipes.

Checkout: our Corona-Finance top 5 tips for stretching a food budget.

I keep getting more and more calls from numbers I dont know. What’s going on?

It’s shocking but scam calls are on the up during this crisis. Some even say they are offering help from the government to write off all our debts, for example. The trouble is, a lot of real help is going to need to be made available by phone.

As older people are often targeted, Age UK have some good advice on how we can all protect ourselves:

1. Never reveal personal details – even if our bank rings us, tell them they need to prove who THEY are!

2. Hang up – this is no time for politeness, don’t accept anything dodgy

3. Call them back – ask for a number and, if possible, look up at that number online to check it’s legit

4. Don’t be rushed – scammers will pressure us so we don’t notice what they’re up to, if they’re pushy, hang up! If the caller really has our interests at heart, they’ll understand.

Read more: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/money-legal/scams-fraud/phone-scams/

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