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Your home finances during COVID-19

POSTED ON 23 MARCH 2020

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, alongside Boris Johnson, has announced an unprecedented package to support families and businesses

With the coronavirus pandemic shutting down normal day-to-day life for a huge number of Britons, the government has introduced measures to keep families secure in their homes and the economy intact.

 

Job Retention Scheme

“Our planned economic response will be one of the most comprehensive in the world; you will not face this alone.”

Those were the words on Friday evening from Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer. He spoke at length about the plans set to come in place to help protect the workforce – and economy – when it’s needed most.

“I have a responsibility to make sure that, for the first time in our history, the government is going to step in and help pay peoples wages. We’re setting up a new coronavirus job retention scheme,” explained Sunak.

This means that the government is promising to cover 80% of the salary of retained workers – up to a value of £2,500. And any employer will be eligible for the scheme.

The scheme itself will cover the cost of wages – backdated to 1st March – and will be open for an initial three month period, although Sunak has vowed to extend the scheme if necessary.

 

Three Month Mortgage Holiday

For homeowners, the government announced a three-month mortgage holiday for those in financial hardship during this time. Customers will need to apply for the scheme through their mortgage provider, and although acceptance isn’t guaranteed, all applications will be fast-tracked.

During the three months, under FCA rules, accounts will still accrue interest, which will be recovered later, however, the capital sum of the mortgage will remain unchanged. Homeowner’s credit ratings won’t be affected.

Initially, only available for owner-occupiers, lenders have now extended the three-month holiday to include buy-to-let mortgages.

 

Protection for Tenants

On the 18th of March, the government announced that landlords cannot apply to the court to evict tenants for at least three months. If you are worried about rent arrears, at the first instance it is recommended to talk to your agent and landlord first to agree to a rent reduction or to accept late rent.

Rent will still be due as normal, so if you can still afford to pay your rent, they recommend you do so as not to end up with a large bill at the end of this period. Landlords may allow you to delay payments or pay a reduced rate; however, they are not obliged to do so.

If you have lost your job, or are suffering a reduction in your earnings, you will need to apply for any benefits you may be entitled to. Your benefits should increase with a change in your earnings, and this will include housing benefit.

 

What Next?

There are calls for more to be done to help renters, including the possibility of a ‘rent holiday,’ similar to the mortgage holiday. Charities and unions have also called for increases to benefits payments including SSP to help people cope with bills.

For up-to-date information about your finances during this period, please follow this link – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-those-affected-by-covid-19/support-for-those-affected-by-covid-19

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