Struggling with finances due to Covid? Help is at hand

 The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we live and affected many Brits’ financial wellbeing. 

Help is available but the application deadline for many payment holidays is looming.  We’ve rounded up some useful points covering mortgages, credit cards, insurance and council tax.  

Mortgages, credit card debt or loan repayments  

  • Borrowers who’ve not yet had a payment holiday will be able to request one up until March 31. Generally, you’ll be given a three-month payment holiday when you first apply, though you’ll be able to resume payments earlier if you don’t need that long.  
  • Borrowers who’ve already had or are on a payment holiday will be able to ‘top-up’ to a total of six months of payment holidays. In general, payment holidays are given in three-month tranches, so for most people, you’ll get an initial three-month payment holiday, and then another three months (whether or not these are taken together). 
  • Remember you’ll still be charged interest during the payment holiday.

Insurance 

If you’re struggling to pay your insurance premiums – whether it’s for a car, van or motorbike, home, travel, income protection, life and private medical insurance, boiler cover or critical illness cover – because your income’s been affected by coronavirus, your insurer should help you. Measures they might offer could include: 

  • Reviewing your policy. Insurers could look at whether you can drop extras you may not be using. A cheaper policy with lower cover levels may be suitable too. 
  • Agreeing a repayment plan. This is where your insurer or lender works with you to set up a plan that but allows you to pay off the debt in a reasonable amount of time. 
  • Waiving or reducing interest.If you can’t meet your payments, the insurer or lender needs to make sure the amount you owe isn’t rising out of control, so it may need to waive or cut the interest it’s charging.  

Council tax 

All local authorities have help in place for people who are facing financial hardship due to coronavirus. The support you could get includes:

  • Payment plans. You work with your council to figure out an affordable repayment schedule if you’re in arrears or unable to pay forthcoming council tax instalments.
  • Bill reductions. If you’re on universal credit, other benefits or a low income. Council tax reductions are long-standing discounts of up to 100% off bills for those on benefits or a low income. It doesn’t matter if you own your own home or rent or whether you’re employed or not.