Coronavirus money help: worried about paying mortgage, rent or other costs
A lot of us are worried about how we will manage financially over the next few months. There’s uncertainty about how the coronavirus will affect us and our money. If you’re feeling a bit anxious, we completely understand and we’ll try to help as best we can.
This article explains the financial help for paying your mortgage, rent or bills.
We’ll keep updating this as we hear more and if you have anything to add to the list, please put it in a comment and we’ll get it added.
Last updated: 14 April 2020
Watch the video
We walk you through the financial help available
if you’re worried about paying your mortgage,
rent or other bills.
Help paying mortgage or rent
If you have a mortgage and you’re not sure you’re going to be able to pay it you can ask for a 3 month mortgage holiday:
Banks are giving mortgage payment holidays to customers. In most cases, they should let you not pay your mortgage for up to 3 months. Get in touch with your bank and ask them what they can do for you.
Please be aware that some banks are still working out their specific arrangements for this, so it might be a few more days before they can tell you how to apply.
You won’t be completely let off your payments, but the bank should just add the 3 month total to whatever the remainder of your mortgage is, and then you’ll just pay a little bit more every month when you start making repayments again.
It will mean that you end up paying a bit more in total for your mortgage, so don’t automatically take a payment holiday unless you need it.
If you pay rent and you’re worried about being able to pay it:
Ask your landlord for a payment holiday or rent reduction: Get in touch with your landlord (or letting agent if you rent through an agency). Ask the landlord if they can either give you a rent payment holiday, or let you pay a lower rent for a few months. Get whatever you agree in writing. Here’s a template for what to say.
Claim universal credit: the government has increased the availability of universal credit. It may take five weeks for your application to be assessed, but you can ask for an advance payment to tide you over. Check EntitledTo’s benefits calculator to see if you qualify.
Evictions are not allowed for the next 3 months: The government has made a new emergency law, so that renters will not be evicted, even if you are unable to pay their rent. This will mean that your landlord cannot legally evict you for 3 months (this applies between 26 March – 30 September 2020). This will protect you whether you are renting privately, or from a local council or housing association.
In the meantime, if you are worried about your landlord trying to evict you, try to remain in your property and if you need advice, see the Shelter housing advice page.
Help paying bills
If you think you’ll struggle to pay essential bills, like gas and electricity:
Get in touch with your energy provider now and ask them if they can lower your bills, or switch you to a cheaper tariff. You can also use a switching service like USwitch to see if you can get a better deal.
If you’re going to be working from home, your bills might go up (because you’ll be using heating, electricity and water during the day), so ask your employer if they can cover some of those costs for a few months.
Apply for local grants
Some charities provide grants if you are struggling financially. Just put your details into the Turn2Us’s Grant Calculator to see what might be available in your area.
Get rid of any subscriptions that you don’t use. Cancel holidays, train/bus tickets and get refunds
A lot of subscripton services will let you cancel almost immediately, or on 30 days, so cancel anything that you’re not going to need over the next 3 – 6 months. You can always re-subscribe.
See if you can get a refund on any train or bus pre-paid tickets or any holidays that you won’t be able to take.
Plus speak to your childcare provider about getting a refund on any childcare costs for services you won’t be using.
Help with overdraft, credit cards and loans
If you can’t make your minimum payments on your overdraft, credit cards or loans
Most banks are offering some form of help (payment holidays, or not charging you if you miss a payment), so find out what’s available to you. Bank phone lines are very busy at the moment, so look on their website first and see if you can apply for help online.
Get in touch with them before it becomes a bigger problem, so that it doesn’t affect your credit score.
!! Important advice about overdrafts !!
From April 6 2020, banks will be charging 40% interest if you go over your overdraft. That’s about double what you’d pay on a credit card and it could mean you get into debt quickly.
Some banks (like HSBC and Lloyds) are giving current accounts an extra £300 overdraft buffer interest free. So check what your bank is offering and ask them to extend your overdraft to give you a buffer for the next 6 months.