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Personal Finances

matthew
05th March 2021

Coronavirus: Impact on Personal Finances

Advice for consumers who are worried about the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) to their finances, including the latest information on sick pay, mortgages, benefits and what banks are doing to help consumers.

The information on this page was last updated on 05 March 2021

Employment and Benefits

Information regarding sick pay, Government financial assistance and benefits.

Do I get sick pay if I get COVID-19 or if I need to self-isolate?

If you need to take time off work due to becoming unwell from coronavirus, you'll be entitled to your usual sick leave and sick pay.

If you're self-isolating on Government advice, and would usually qualify for it, you should be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). SSP currently stands at £94.25 a week – you must be employed and earn an average of at least £118 a week to be entitled to it. If you are a gig worker and/or on a zero hours contract, you may still be entitled to SSP as long as you meet the eligibility criteria.

Changes to the law mean that statutory sick pay is payable from day one, not day four and will apply retrospectively from Friday 13 March. Information on the changes and details about how to apply for statutory sick pay can be found on the nidirect website.

The extension in statutory sick pay relates to those self-isolating due to coronavirus. If you are off sick for any other reason, standard rules apply and statutory sick pay will apply from day four, not day one. 

You must be self-isolating for an official reason. These are if you have coronavirus or if you or someone in your household has coronavirus symptoms, or if you've been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111. 

Do not ask your GP for a fit note if you are off work because of coronavirus. Instead you can get an isolation note to send to your employer as proof you need to stay at home. Details of when and how to apply for an isolation note can be found on the NHS website.

If you're not unwell or in quarantine but your employer asks you not to come to work – for example, because you've recently been abroad to an affected area – you should receive your full pay.

If, now that schools have been instructed to close, you need to stay at home to look after children, you should speak to your employer and explain what has happened. 

You should also read the relevant policies that exist in your place of work, as you may be able to request flexible working, emergency carers' leave, annual leave or unpaid leave.  Some organisations also have a 'special leave' policy which allows, for example, one day of paid leave in order to deal with the immediate childcare need and to organise alternative childcare for the following days or weeks. 

The important thing is to look at your workplace policies and come to an agreement with your employer.

For full help on your employment rights during the coronavirus outbreak, see the Labour Relations Agency (LRA) website.  You can also contact the LRA Workplace Information Service on 03300 555 300.

What if I don’t earn enough to be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay?

If you take home less than the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week – and you have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or new style Employment and Support Allowance. More advice on how to apply for these benefits is available on nidirect website.

If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate.

To find out more, or to apply for either Universal Credit or new style Employment and Support Allowance, you can contact the Universal Credit helpline on:

  • Telephone: 0800 328 5644
  • Textphone: 0800 328 1344

What help is available if I work in the creative arts sector?

Support for individuals who work in the arts and creative sector has been granted under the Individual Emergency Resilience Programme. The second round of support under the programme closed for applications on 7 January 2021 and funds have now been awarded to successful applicants.

This programme has been designed to help support individual musicians, DJs, artists, actors, craftspeople and freelancers, and other creative practitioners who work in the creative industries to sustain and build their creative, professional and technical skills during the pandemic. These workers will also be helped to adapt to the new market conditions that have been brought about as a result of COVID-19.

The fund is aimed at workers in the creative and arts economy in whatever capacity such as:

Venue support staff, singer songwriters, session musicians, set designers, lighting and sound technicians, artists, actors, DJs, musicians, rappers, writers/poets, comedians, open mike performers, tutors and facilitators , dancers, choreographers, editors and proof readers, craftspeople. This is an indicative list and is not exhaustive.

Priority for funding has be given to those who have been unable to access other forms of financial support from Government or other sources and who have not received funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Artists Emergency Programme (AEP) or Individuals Emergency Resilience Programmes 1. 

Further information on The Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme 2 is available on the Arts Council website.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland provide various funding programmes for individuals and organisations in the arts sector throughout the year. For the latest information, visit the Arts Council funding webpage.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“Furlough Scheme”)

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme allows your employer to classify you as a “furloughed worker”. This means that the Government will pay a large percentage of your wage while you are unable to work because of COVID-19. This allows your employer to keep you on their payroll, rather than making you redundant.

The Scheme has been extended until 30 September 2021Find out if you're entitled to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on the Gov.uk website.

Your employer may claim a grant of up to 80% of your usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. You don't need to have been furloughed before.

If your employer decides to fully furlough you, you cannot undertake any work for them during the time which you are recorded as being on furlough.

However, your employer can flexibly furlough you - if you agree, this means you can work for any amount of time or work pattern and your employer can claim the furlough grant for the hours you do not work, compared to the hours you would normally have worked in that period.

You will remain employed while furloughed, still be paid by your employer and pay taxes from your income. Your employer could choose to fund the differences between this payment and your salary, but does not have to.

Claims for furlough days in February 2021 must be made by 15 March 2021.

For periods ending on or before 30 April 2021, your employer can claim for you if you were employed on or before 30 October 2020, as long as they have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020. This may differ if you were made redundant, or you stopped working for them on or after 23 September 2020 and they then re-employed you.

For periods on or after 1 May 2021, your employer can claim for you if you were employed on 2 March 2021, as long as they have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 2 March 2021.

An employee who was on a fixed term contract, on payroll on 23 September, and that contract expired after 23 September can be re-employed and claimed for, provided that the other eligibility criteria are met.

If you’re on maternity or paternity leave which ends after the 1st July and you have not already been furloughed for at least three weeks before that date, you can still be considered for furlough after the registration cut-off date, but this will only apply to anyone that work for an organisation that has previously furloughed employees.

This also applies for employees returning to work following shared parental, adoption or parental bereavement leave. Find out which employees can be put on furlough on the Gov.uk website.

You can work for another employer while furloughed. This has to be permitted by your employment contract and you must not be providing services to, or making money for, the employer during the time which you are recorded as being on furlough.

Cross border workers who are temporarily laid off (furloughed workers) during the Covid-19 pandemic should stay on their employer’s payroll and be paid during this period of time.

The employer can then claim the appropriate rate from the Government.

If your salary is reduced as a result of these changes, you may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit. Work and finance support is available on the Gov.uk website.

You can also contact the Universal Credit helpline on:

Telephone: 0800 328 5644

Textphone: 0800 328 1344

I would like to get alternative work during the coronavirus outbreak

If you’ve been furloughed, or are unable to make money from your normal work at this time, you may wish to consider looking for alternative work. There is currently high demand in Northern Ireland for labour in sectors such as health, retail and agri-food.

To see what positions are currently available you could register with Job Centre Online.

Additional help is available from the Government Careers Advice service. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 issue, the Careers Service is unable to take phone calls. However, you can still contact them via email and the webchat service, which is available Monday to Friday from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm.

How is my Working Tax Credit affected?

People who can't work their normal hours because of coronavirus will still receive their usual tax credits payments.

If you are working reduced hours due to coronavirus or being furloughed by your employer, you will not have your tax credits payments affected if you are still employed or self-employed.

You do not need to contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) about this change. They will treat customers as working their normal hours until the Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme close, even if you are not using either scheme.

You can still report any other changes in income, childcare and hours in the normal way. However, you must tell HMRC if you or your partner lose their job, are made redundant or cease trading.

My child gets Free School Meals

Arrangements have been put in place to ensure families who normally receive free school meals do not suffer financial hardship over periods of closure, such as school holidays, or closures due to coronavirus restrictions.

At the moment, schools are due to remain closed until the end of the February Half Term.

A payment will be made to parents/guardians of all children entitled to Free School Meals, including vulnerable children and children of key workers, for the period 4 January to 22 January 2021 in the first instance. The payment will be made to nominated bank accounts on Friday 15 January.

If the Education Authority does not have details of a nominated bank account, a cheque will be issued to you.

You will be issued with further payments covering the period 25 January to the end of the February Half Term. Dates for these subsequent payments are yet to be confirmed.

If you are a key worker and your child is still attending school, payments will also be made to you covering the period to the end of the February Half Term. 

Eligible families will received payments of £13.50 per child per week directly into their bank accounts – with no need to apply. Payments are made by the Education Authority. 

For more information about Free School Meals, click this link to the Education Authority website. Advice about further support, for example help with buying school uniforms can also be found on the Education Authority website.

For families with access to a bank account, they must make these details known to the Education Authority if they have not already done so. They can do this by emailing MealsandUniforms-Omagh@eani.org.uk. Please note, the Bank Account Name must be the same name as the claimant for free school meals, otherwise the direct payment cannot be made.

If the Education Authority does not have details of a nominated bank account, a cheque may be issued to you.

The Education Authority will work with families who do not have a bank account to ensure that food is available to vulnerable families and continue to identify and support children who would otherwise be entitled to Free School Meals but who, for whatever reason, cannot access the support that has been put in place.

Families in the Asylum Seeking community should apply to have the school meals payments paid into their bank account if they have one.

Disadvantaged pupils may be entitled to a free Wi-Fi scheme

On 8 July 2020, the Department of Education minister announced a free wi-fi scheme for disadvantaged pupils.

Free wi-fi and mobile connectivity will be provided to children and young people who may not have had access to digital technology during lockdown.

This is part of a scheme announced in May to lend digital devices to those children who would benefit most and to ensure continuity of learning when they return to school.

The Department of Education has been working with BT and the Education Authority to deliver the scheme which will run for up to eight months . It is anticipated that access to free wi-fi will be available from the middle of August 2020 onwards for eligible pupils who meet the necessary criteria.

You may be entitled to a Government grant

Financial support may be available for short-term living expenses if you have a positive Covid-19 diagnosis or you are in self-isolation. A non-repayable Discretionary Support Self Isolation Grant may be available to you if you are on a low income and are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of being told to self-isolate.

This grant will include a specific amount for any children in your household and may be made for periods of more than 14 days.

To help alleviate the financial difficulties people face during the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) public health crisis the amount payable for short term living expenses has been increased to the Universal Credit daily rate for a person and their partner.  The amount payable for children is based on the Income Support rate for children, as it is higher than in Universal Credit. There is no limit on the number children that can be included in an award.

Check out if you are eligible for the Discretionary Support self-isolation grant and apply as soon as possible once you have started to self-isolate.

Additional financial help may be available through the Discretionary Support Scheme if you are in a financial crisis and require extra support. Emergency measures have been introduced to include the introduction of a grant payment to assist with short-term living expenses where a person, or a member of their immediate family, has been infected by COVID-19 or told to self-isolate. There is no limit on the amount of an individual award, which will be calculated based on individual circumstances.

The Annual Income Threshold for the Discretionary Support scheme has been raised to £20,405 (this is the level of income below which a person is eligible for Discretionary Support). The debt threshold has been increased also, from £1,000 to £1,500. 

 If you are a full-time student and suffering financial hardship as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic you can now also apply for Discretionary Support.

For more information on eligibility and how to apply see the NI Direct website Discretionary Support Scheme.

How will the coronavirus affect my benefits?

Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)

All appointments at local Jobs & Benefits offices have been postponed. If you are already receiving benefits, you will continue to receive your payments. 

From 30 March 2020 until further notice, attendance at Jobs and Benefits offices for the purposes of signing for benefits has been excused. 

Work search and work availability requirements have however been reinstated from 3 August 2020 for new claims to Jobseeker’s Allowance.  

Staff in the Jobs & Benefits offices will be making calls to Jobseeker’s Allowance recipients to complete Claimant Commitments and to assist and advise on available employment services and ensure that claimants have the support they need.

If you experience a change in your needs you should contact the Department for Communities (DfC) to ensure you are receiving the correct level of support.

Carer’s Allowance

Carers will continue to be paid Carer’s Allowance when they have temporarily ceased to care for a severely disabled person due to either of them self-isolating or being infected with coronavirus.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, emotional support can also count towards the 35 hours a week you spend caring for someone who is ill or has a disability.

In line with public health advice face-to face assessments for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) will continue to be suspended and be kept under review, with telephony assessments carried out where appropriate.  Review activity will gradually resume from 21 July for PIP and Disability Living Allowance and measures have been put in place to ensure the payment of benefit continues until the review has concluded. If you experience a change in your needs, you should contact DfC to ensure you are receiving the correct level of support.

You should not visit your Jobs and Benefits offices, but call them instead. The DfC website has more up to date information about benefits and how you can contact your Jobs and Benefits offices.

To speak to someone about Universal Credit, including making a new claim, you can phone the Universal Credit Helpline on 0800 012 1331.

If you are in a crisis situation you can apply for financial help by contacting the DfC Finance Support Service on 0800 587 2750 (Freephone) or 0800 587 2751 (text-phone for customers with hearing difficulties).

Benefit overpayments and loan repayments

Due to coronavirus, the DfC paused recovery of overpayments and loans for three months.

From July 2020 DfC restarted the recovery of overpayments and over a period of months it will reinstate repayment arrangements that were previously agreed.

Additional help for those who receive benefits

Universal Credit Advance Payment

If you’re making a new claim for Universal Credit you will have to wait at least five weeks for the first payment, so don’t delay making a claim.

However, you can make a claim for an advance payment while you’re waiting for your Universal Credit payment. Talk to your work coach about how to do this once you’ve made your claim.

It must be stressed that the advance payment is a loan that will need to be paid back out of future Universal Credit payments. So make sure you only ask for what you need and can afford to pay back, as you may have difficulty in repaying which can result in further problems down the line, such as sanctions (where your Universal Credit payment is reduced for a period of time).

You can ask for your repayments to be delayed for up to 3 months if you can’t afford them. This is only allowed in exceptional circumstances.

 

Universal Credit Contingency Fund

A non-repayable Universal Credit Contingency Fund Short Term Living Expenses grant may be available if you are in financial difficulty (including new UC claimants).

An online living expenses grant application form is available and can be completed and submitted online without the need to download or email.  

For more information call one of the numbers below:

Phone: 0800 587 2750

Text number: 0800 587 2751 (for deaf or hard of hearing users and customers with speech difficulties)

 

COVID-19 Heating Payment

The Department for Communities is providing a one-off heating payment if you are in receipt of Pension Credit, or are in receipt of certain disability benefits at the higher rates, in recognition of additional costs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

You do not need to apply for a COVID-19 Heating Payment.  Payments are planned for the end of January 2021.  If you were receiving one of the benefits below in the week from Monday 30 November to Sunday 6 December, you will receive the payment automatically.

To be eligible for a COVID-19 Heating Payment during the qualifying week, you must be a resident in Northern Ireland and in receipt of one or more of the following benefits:

  • Pension Credit
  • the higher rate of Attendance Allowance
  • the higher rate care and / or higher rate mobility element of Disability Living Allowance, including children
  • the enhanced rate daily living and / or enhanced rate mobility element of Personal Independence Payment

If you are eligible, the COVID-19 Heating Payment will be a one-off payment of £200 paid automatically into the same account you receive your usual benefit payments. You will only receive one payment, even if you receive more than one of the benefits above.

This payment will be disregarded when considering your entitlement to other benefits (excluding tax credits) and may be taxable.

The COVID-19 Heating Payment is in addition to any other payments, including the Winter Fuel Payment.

If you are part of a couple to whom Pension Credit is jointly paid, you will only receive one COVID-19 Heating Payment.

 

Budgeting Advance

You may be also be able to get a Budgeting Advance to help pay for emergency household costs.

This is a loan, and your eligibility and how much you can borrow will depend on whether or not you can pay it back.

To apply, contact the Universal Credit Service Centre via your online account or speak to your Work Coach.

For more information on either of these sources of help, visit the nidirect website.

What support is available if I suffer a spousal bereavement during the coronavirus crisis?

You may be able to get Bereavement Support Payment if your husband, wife or civil partner died on or after 6 April 2017.

You will qualify for Bereavement Support Payment if:

  • your spouse or civil partner died on or after 6 April 2017
  • you were under State Pension age when your spouse or civil partner died
  • you were resident in the UK at the time of the death or live in a country where the UK has a relevant European Union or reciprocal agreement
  • your spouse or civil partner had paid a minimum of 25 Class 1 or Class 2 National Insurance contributions in any single tax year during their working life

You cannot claim Bereavement Support Payment if you’re in prison.

Additional Government help if you are struggling financially

Additional support has been made available for vulnerable people over the Christmas period. Aimed at those in need of extra support in accessing food and essentials, medicine, fuel and social contact, the programmes will be delivered in partnership with local councils, health trusts, charities and the community and voluntary sector, to ensure support is directed swiftly to those most in need.

It will be directly targeted at the most vulnerable, including children and young people; carers; older people; people living with a disability; and anyone who has lost income as a result of Covid-19.

Anyone in need of support should contact the Covid-19 Community Helpline, which is managed by Advice NI, freephone number 0808 802 0020. You can also get in touch by emailcovid19@adviceni.net: text: ACTION to 81025, or by completing a form on the Advice NI website. Further details will also be available through the programmes’ lead partners: councils; health trusts, charities and partnered community and voluntary groups.

Students

Help and advice for full-time and part-time students.

£500 COVID Disruption Payment for students

Every student from the UK or EU currently enrolled on a full-time higher education course in Northern Ireland (including CAFRE) will receive the one-off discretionary payment of £500, which is in recognition of the disruption they have suffered as a result of the pandemic.

The Covid Disruption Payments will be issued to students by the end of March. More information about this can be found on the Department for the Economy website.

Financial help and advice for students

Further Education institutions may be able to provide support to students in financial difficulty due to the COVID-19 pandemic through student support funds or student hardship funds. Further information for students can be found on the nidirect website.

Click here to access Queen’s University’s hardship fund on their website. More helpful information is also available on the Queen’s Students’ Union website.

Ulster University are providing financial support which is accessible on their website. Information for students on a wide range of COVID-19 related issues, including money matters can also be found on the Ulster University website.

If you are studying with another education provider, you should contact them directly to see what help they are able to provide.

You should also contact your representatives with The National Union of Students - Union of Students in Ireland (NUS-USI) who have been lobbying the NI Executive on a number of relief giving issues, such as rent suspension and access to financial support through Universal Credit.

Housing advice for students

If you are a student and suffering financial hardship due to rental payments you can now apply for Discretionary Support. Information on this is available on the nidirect website. You should also contact your landlord or letting agent to explain your situation. Only then will you be in a position to discuss flexibility in terms of payments.

Landlords are being advised to deal sympathetically with tenants who may be finding it difficult to pay their rent. If necessary, the Housing Rights mediation service can assist in resolving any issues.

Can I cancel my student housing rental agreement because Coronavirus has affected my course?

Due to COVID-19, your university or college course may at some point need to change from a location based course to one that’s delivered remotely, and you might want, or need, to move back home. However, students who want to end their contract with their landlord (including the university if staying in halls of residence) are unlikely to be entitled to a refund.

However, in the Spring of 2020 when the national lockdown came into force, many universities did waive rent due on their own accommodation. So, if more restrictive lockdowns occur, either locally or nationally, which prevent you from attending a course in person, your university may decide to do so again.

If you have a fixed term agreement with your landlord there may be no obligation for them to release you from the contract. Nevertheless, it’s still worth trying to negotiate with your landlord, and they may agree to release you from the tenancy early, or to waive or reduce rent if you are not living in the accommodation.  

If you need some help with accommodation issues, it’s a good idea to contact the support services available at your university or college.

Queen’s University have a Student’s Guidance Centre on campus. Details of the help they provide and how to contact them can be found on the Queen’s University website.

Ulster University provide support via their Student Wellbeing portal on the university’s website. There are also Student Wellbeing offices at each of their campuses, details of which can be found on the Ulster University website.

What help is available for the self-employed?

Information on the schemes and benefits available for the self-employed.

Further Information for Self-Employed and Small Business Owners

The NI Business Info website has extensive, up-to-date advice regarding the government support available to self-employed and small business owners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant extension

The grant extension is for individuals that are self-employed or a member of a partnership who were eligible for the initial Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and are actively continuing to trade, but are facing reduced demand due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

At the Budget it was confirmed that the fourth SEISS grant will be set at 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits, paid out in a single instalment, capped at £7,500. The grant will cover a three-month period from the start of February until the end of April. The fourth grant will take into account 2019 to 2020 tax returns and will be open to those who became self-employed in tax year 2019 to 2020. The rest of the eligibility criteria remain unchanged.

Your eligibility for the scheme will now be based on your submitted 2019 to 2020 tax return. This may also affect the amount of the fourth grant which could be higher or lower than previous grants you may have received.

The online claims service for the fourth grant will be available from late April 2021 until 31 May 2021. If you are eligible, HMRC will contact you in mid-April to give you your personal claim date. This will be the date that you can make your claim from.

There will be more guidance about the fourth grant in due course. For more information, click here to visit the Gov.uk website.

Again, this will be a taxable grant, so you will have to declare it on your Self-Assessment tax return and might have to pay Income Tax and National Insurance on it.

SEISS applies to those who were trading in the last financial year, are still trading now, and are planning to continue doing so this year. You will have made the majority of your income (over 50%) from self-employment and have a trading profit of less than £50,000 for 2018-19, or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.

If you receive the grant you can continue to work or take on other employment including voluntary work.

The UK government has also announced that there will be a fifth and final grant covering May to September. You will be able to claim from late July if you are eligible for the fifth grant. The amount of the fifth grant will be determined by how much your turnover has been reduced in the year April 2020 to April 2021.

The fifth grant will be worth 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £7,500, for those with a turnover reduction of 30% or more. For those with a turnover reduction of less than 30%, the grant will be worth 30% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £2,850.

Further details will be provided on the fifth grant in due course.

The scheme does not apply to you if you operate under a company structure and pay yourself a salary or take dividends. However, if this is the case, you may be eligible to claim at least 77% of your dividends through the Job Support Scheme if you’re earning through PAYE (details of this are in our Job Support Scheme section).

Newly Self-Employed Support Scheme

The Newly Self-Employed Support Scheme (NSESS) is designed to provide support to newly self-employed individuals who have been adversely impacted by COVID-19. NSESS offers an initial one-off taxable grant of £3,500 to self-employed individuals who only started trading between 6 April 2019 and 5 April 2020, including sole traders and those in partnerships.

Applications for NSESS closed on Friday 19 February 2021. Visit the NIbusinessinfo.co.uk website for more information about NSESS.

COVID Restrictions Business Support Scheme (for those ineligible for SEISS)

Self-employed people who are ineligible for any of the other Government funding packages, may be able to benefit from the Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme (CRBSS).

It is available to those working as mobile hairdressers or people who do not have a premises, like driving instructors. The scheme may also benefit firms who supply businesses that have closed under localised or national restrictions.

Applications for CRBSS has now closed. More information is available on the NIbusinessinfo.co.uk website.

Grant payments will be split into three categories. Visit the Department for the Economy website for more information.

CRBSS will operate in two parts. Eligible businesses who fall under Part A of the scheme, that is those businesses that are required to close or cease trading as a result of the Health Protection Regulations, and are not eligible for the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme, will receive a grant equivalent to £600 for each week the initial Health Protection Regulations are in place. This will be paid in one lump sum. More information on Part A of CRBSS can be found on the NIBusinessinfo.co.uk website                                   

Part B of the scheme will benefit businesses which have not been forced to close, but are part of the direct supply chain to a business that is forced to close/cease trading under the Health Protection Regulations, and as a result have been severely impacted. A one-off grant is available to eligible businesses, subdivided between those paying business rates and those that do not. More information on Part B of CRBSS can be found on the NIBusinessinfo.co.uk website.

Limited Company Director's Support Scheme

The Limited Company Director’s Support Scheme (LCDSS) has been launched to provide financial support to company directors who have personally been adversely impacted by COVID-19.  

The scheme, administered by Invest NI on behalf of the Department for the Economy, will open to online applications at 6pm on Thursday 21 January 2021.

LCDSS will provide an initial one-off taxable grant of £1,000 to eligible company directors. You must hold more than 25% of shares in the company, with at least 50% of your income coming from your director’s remuneration (salary) and dividends, as at 31 March 2020 (prior to COVID-19).

To be eligible, you must also meet a number of criteria set out on the Invest NI website. Application details can also be found via this link. Whilst applications are invited from individuals who hold more than one directorship, only one application is allowed per person.

Localised Restrictions Support Scheme

Businesses that operate from business premises should check their eligibility and apply for the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme by clicking this link to the NIbusinessinfo.co.uk website. This scheme provides support to businesses which have been required to close or have had business activity at their premises directly curtailed by the Health Protection Regulations. The application process for this scheme is now open.

The Taxi Drivers Financial Assistance Scheme 2021

The Taxi Drivers Financial Assistance Scheme 2021 is specifically designed to provide financial assistance to taxi drivers in recognition of the impact of the pandemic on their trade. It recognises that self-employed taxi drivers have significant overheads, including additional PPE costs, which were not covered by payments received through the available self-employed income support schemes (SEISS). Therefore, this is additional support to that which is available to self-employed drivers through the SEISS.

The scheme provides a one-off financial support payment to eligible self-employed taxi drivers who were working, or were available for work, between 22 March 2020 and 21 March 2021.

The scheme is open to Northern Ireland taxi drivers only who had either continuous or partial insurance throughout the entire 12 month period.

The support offered will be via a one-off bespoke payment and will be made on a pro-rata basis reflecting the individual circumstances of and costs incurred by each driver. The maximum amount of support available will be £3,000, including any payment already made under the first scheme.

Further details, including eligibility criteria and how to apply, can be found on the NIbusinessinfo.co.uk website.

No Self Assessment late filing penalty for those who file online by 28 February

If you’re making a Self Assessment you will not receive a penalty for your late online tax return if you file by 28 February 2021. More information can be found at No Self Assessment late filing penalty for those who file online by 28 February - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Other Benefits you may be eligible for

If you are self-employed you may also be eligible to receive Universal Credit and the new style Employment and Support Allowance. This is particularly beneficial to those who do not qualify for SEISS. Click here to go to the Department for Work and Pensions website for more advice on applying for these benefits.

To find out more, or to apply for either Universal Credit or new style Employment and Support Allowance, you can also contact the Universal Credit helpline on:

  • Telephone: 0800 328 5644
  • Textphone: 0800 328 1344

If you have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate, and you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8.

Housing and Rates

Information on assistance available for home owners and tenants.

What if I’m struggling to pay my rent or mortgage?

If you need to self-isolate and are unable to work because of COVID-19, you may be able to claim for benefits to help you pay your rent. Contact the DfC Finance Support Service on 0800 587 2750 (Freephone) or 0800 587 2751 (textphone for customers with hearing difficulties).

If you are worried about being able to afford to pay your mortgage, information on what providers are doing to help people affected by the coronavirus is available in the Banks and financial services section below.

Further housing advice is available from the Housing Rights website. (Advice is also available in Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Somali, Farsi and Arabic from this link).

What is the latest update from Northern Ireland Housing Executive?

The Northern Ireland Assembly has made a commitment to work with NIHE to ensure that any social housing tenant facing difficulties paying rent during COVID-19 will not be evicted.

The Housing Executive’s rent increase of 2.7% that was due to come into effect on 6 April will now not come into effect until 1 October 2020.

Housing Executive customers facing financial difficulties as a result of the on-going emergency should telephone their patch manager as quickly as possible for further advice. Housing Benefit payments will continue as normal.

All public reception areas in their local offices are closed until further notice. Staff will still be working and can be contacted on these telephone numbers:

  • 03448 920 900 - General enquiries
  • 03448 920 901 - Repairs
  • 03448 920 902 - Housing Benefit 

Updated information can be found on the NIHE website.

What can housing association tenants do?

The Northern Ireland Assembly has made a commitment to work with Housing Associations to ensure that any social housing tenant facing difficulties paying rent during COVID-19 will not be evicted.

If you are a housing association tenant facing financial difficulties as a result of the on-going emergency, you should contact your housing association as soon as possible. Also, please check your landlord's website and social media channels for updates. You can find contact details for housing associations on the NIFHA website.

Let your landlord know that you may have difficulty paying rent and ask what steps they are taking to help tenants at this time.

Further housing advice is available from the Housing Rights website. (Advice is also available in Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Somali, Farsi and Arabic from this link).

What can private tenants do?

If your ability to pay rent will be affected, it’s important to have an early conversation with your landlord. Rent levels agreed in your tenancy agreement remain legally due and you should discuss with your landlord if you are experiencing difficulty meeting your rent. 

Landlords are being advised to deal sympathetically with tenants who may be finding it difficult to pay their rent. Under new legislation, landlords are required to give tenants a 12 week notice to quit period, during Coronavirus emergency period.

If necessary, the Housing Rights mediation service can assist in resolving any issues. 

If you are a private tenant in receipt of Housing Benefit, or the housing costs element of Universal Credit, additional financial support is available in the form of Local Housing Allowance (LHA). The rates of LHA are being increased from 1 April.

To check if you are eligible for LHA, please visit the Housing Executive website. Information about applying for LHA via Housing Benefit is available on the nidirect website.

Further housing advice is available from the Housing Rights website. (Advice is also available in Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Somali, Farsi and Arabic from this link.)

Emergency measures to help rates payers

Following a delay to help with Covid-19 domestic rate bills will now begin to be issued.  

The domestic regional rate (the part of your rates set by the Northern Ireland Executive for regional services) has been frozen for 2020-21.  This means the cost of the regional rate for domestic customers will be no higher for 2020-21 than it was in 2019-20. However, the cost of the district rate (the part set by your District Council) will probably change.

Anyone having difficulty paying rates in the current circumstances should contact Land and Property Services (LPS) to discuss alternative payment plans. 

Further details about help with paying for rates can be found on the Land and Property Services website.

The Finance Minister has also announced an emergency rates package to assist NI business affected by COVID-19. Further information is available on the NI Business Info website.

Banks and Building Societies

Banks and building societies have announced various measures to help customers adversely affected financially by the coronavirus emergency. Here are some examples of what help is on offer.

Mortgages, loans and credit agreements

Mortgages

Speak to your mortgage provider if you are worried about missing mortgage payments. Explain your situation and ask what they can do to help you in the current circumstances. It is important that you speak to your mortgage provider and do not just miss a payment without communicating it to your provider, this could negatively impact your credit score.

Something that mortgage providers have been granting to consumers who are struggling financially due to coronavirus is a ‘mortgage payment holiday’. This means you agree with your lender that you will not have to make mortgage payments for a set amount of time. Mortgage providers may allow customers to take a payment holiday for up to six months in total.

However, it is important to remember that you still owe the amounts that you don't pay as a result of the payment holiday. Interest will continue to be charged on the amount you owe. This means that, at the end of the payment holiday, you will have to make up the missed payments. You are likely to end up paying more in the long term as a result of the payment holiday.

There will be various options for making up for the missed payments, for example by increasing your monthly payments slightly, or by adding a short extension to your term. Your lender will be able to explain to you what options it offers.

If you have not yet taken a mortgage payment holiday, you may still be able to apply for one. Also, if you’ve already taken a payment holiday, but are still struggling with your payments, your provider may also allow you to apply for another payment holiday or partial payment holiday, as long as the total length of payment holiday doesn’t exceed a maximum of 6 months in total. 

If a mortgage payment holiday is not the best option for you, providers are still required to provide some sort of tailored support. You will need to be as open and transparent as possible about your situation when talking to your lender. This will help make sure they give you options to manage your debts in a way that doesn’t create significant hardship or greater debt.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have published information for consumers which answer a range of common mortgage related questions. They have also published information on what customers can expect from mortgage providers, and what the FCA expects from them, which is available on The Financial Conduct Authority website.

Personal loans and credit cards

Similarly, regulations have been introduced for personal loan, credit card, store card and catalogue credit providers. Under these updated regulations, lenders must help you if you’re having financial difficulties as a result of COVID-19.

One way they can help is to allow you to take a payment holiday. If providers of credit do not offer you a payment holiday, they are required to provide some sort of tailored support. You will need to be as open and transparent as possible about your situation when talking to your lender. This will help make sure they give you options to manage your debts in a way that doesn’t create significant hardship or greater debt.

If you have not yet taken a payment holiday, you may still be able to apply for one. Also, if you’ve already taken a payment holiday, but are still struggling with your payments, your provider may also allow you to apply for another payment holiday or partial payment holiday, as long as the total length of payment holidays don’t exceed a maximum of 6 months in total. 

If they do allow you to take a payment holiday it is important to remember that you still owe the amounts that you don't pay during the holiday. This means that, at the end of the payment holiday, you will have to make up the missed payments. Also, interest will continue to be charged on the amount you owe which means that you will owe more than you did before agreeing a payment holiday.

It is important that consumer credit customers who can afford to do so continue to make repayments. Borrowers should only take up this support if they really need it.

A payment holiday may not be the best thing for you in the long run, so it is important to contact your lender to talk through which options will be. Missing a payment without communicating it to your provider could negatively impact your credit score.

Bank Overdrafts

Support is available whether you need help for the first time, or if you’ve already had support with the cost of your overdraft borrowing. This support may include:

  • reducing or waiving interest 
  • agreeing a plan of staged reductions in your overdraft limit and your balance
  • supporting you to reduce your overdraft use by transferring the debt to an alternative credit product on more favourable terms

You should be as open and honest as possible about your situation when talking to your bank or lender. This will help them to give you the option that best meet your needs.  

To find out what your bank or building society is doing, and whether you need to act to benefit from this support, check their website. Links are provided in the list of banks and building societies below.

Contactless Card Payment Increase

The limit for contactless card payment has increased to £45. This will help limit the need to physically touch retailer card pin pads and ATMs.

Details of what each bank or building society are doing for affected customers are listed in the section below. Click on your bank or building society’s name for more information.

Allied Irish Bank (AIB)

If you do need to visit a branch, social distancing measures have been introduced. AIB have also introduced priority banking times between 9:30am and 11am for older and more vulnerable customers. All other customers must access the branches after 11am.

The first £200 on your arranged overdraft is now automatically interest free. Interest rates for overdrafts above £200 are 15.62% EAR (variable).

If you are still experiencing an income reduction because of COVID-19 and have not yet applied for a Payment Holiday, AIB have a range of options that may help to minimise any financial stress and anxiety. Click here to visit the AIB website or phone AIB on 028 9082 1682. Lines are open 9am-5pm Monday-Friday, excluding bank holidays. (Call charges may vary, please refer to your service provider).

If you are coming to the end of your mortgage Payment Holiday, you can phone AIB on 0345 600 5925 to discuss your options or email mortgage.business@aib.ie.

If you are in a position to continue or return to making payments it is in your financial best interests to do so as the cost of credit will increase because of the Payment Holiday.

The closing date to apply for a mortgage Payment Holiday is 31 March 2021. You can apply for an extension to your mortgage Payment Holiday after this date, however all Payments Holidays must end by 31 July 2021.

AIB have COVID-19 support for mortgage customers.

If you have a loan, or an AIB credit card, and are struggling financially because of the coronavirus situation, AIB may be able to offer some support tailored to your needs. Click this link to visit the AIB website for information on how to contact them.

Branch opening times

  • 9:30am – 4:30pm Monday to Friday (Wednesday 10am to 4:30pm) (closed at lunchtime from 12:30pm to 1:30pm)
  • 9:30am – 11am priority banking for older and more vulnerable customers

Customer Services - 0345 600 5925 (9am – 5pm Monday to Friday)

AIB’s coronavirus advice

AIB’s branch locator

Bank of Ireland (BOI)

Bank of Ireland (BOI) have introduced priority banking times between 10am and 11am for older customers and their carers. Alternatively, over-65s and carers can call their dedicated line on 0800 783 8591 (9.30am to 4.30pm, Mon-Fri). All other customers must access the branches after 11am.

BOI are asking customers only to visit a branch if it absolutely essential. Most everyday banking can be done on line through 365, on BOI’s mobile app or over the phone. If you do need to visit a branch, social distancing measures have been introduced.

Customers who are self-isolating can authorise a family member or close friend to withdraw cash from their account on their behalf from any branch. To nominate someone to withdraw cash on your behalf, phone 0800 783 8591 (9.30am to 4.30pm, Mon-Fri). For more information, click this link to visit the BOI COVID-19 help webpage.

If you’re a healthcare worker, you can phone the dedicated phone line 0800 783 8591 for all your banking needs, open 9.30am to 4.30pm, Mon-Fri. Alternatively, healthcare workers can contact BOI by emailing HealthcareStaffQueries@boi.com.

As of 5 October 2020, Bank of Ireland no longer offer their COVID-19 overdraft rate of 0% on personal current accounts. From now on current accounts will be charged at their normal rates (Clear Current Account 29.1% [33.31% APR]). However. They are offering to help you if you are experiencing difficulties paying off your overdraft. For more information, click this link to visit the BOI COVID-19 help webpage.

BOI are offering payment break to customers who have been financially impacted by Coronavirus. You have until the 31 March 2021 to apply for an initial payment break or payment break extension.

A payment holiday may not be the best thing for you in the long run, so it is important to contact BOI to talk through which options will be. Missing a payment without communicating it to BOI could negatively impact your credit score.

Mortgage customers are still able to apply for a payment holiday or an extension if you’ve already arranged a payment holiday. You can only have one extension per mortgage account. There may be alternative flexible arrangements you could discuss with BOI which are more beneficial to you. For further information visit the BOI Mortgage Support page on their website.

If you have a loan from BOI, and are struggling financially because of the coronavirus situation, you can apply for a loan payment holiday. This gives you the chance to pause repayments without it impacting your credit file. For more information about applying for a loan repayment holiday, click this link to visit the BOI Support for Personal Loan Customers website.

Similarly, BOI credit card customers may be able to apply for a credit card payment reduction. This means you can temporarily reduce your credit card payments to £1 per month, for three months. For more information, click this link to see credit card help on the BOI website.

Business customers may be able to obtain emergency working capital and BOI will be taking a flexible approach to payments on loans - if you are having any issues repaying back any loans please contact BOI to make them aware.

Business customers may be able to obtain emergency working capital and BOI will be taking a flexible approach to payments on loans - if you are having any issues repaying back any loans please contact BOI to make them aware.

Branch opening times

  • 10am – 4pm Monday to Friday (closed for lunch between 12.30pm and 1.30pm)
  • 10am – 11am priority banking for over 65’s and carers

Main contact - 0345 6016 157 (8am-8pm Monday to Friday & 9am-5pm Saturday and Sunday)

 

Click this link to see all of Bank of Ireland’s coronavirus advice.

To find a local branch, click here to go to the Bank of Ireland branch locator tool.

Barclays

Some Barclays branches are closed or have reduced opening times due to the coronavirus crisis. To see if your branch has been affected, or if you are planning on visiting your local branch, click here to visit their branch finder webpage as opening times could change as the coronavirus situation develops.

Barclays have urged customers who are in financial difficulty or anticipate that they will be due to COVID-19 to contact them to discuss their options.

For vulnerable customers who are isolating and require cash, Barclays have a cash delivery service for vulnerable customers who are self-isolating. Alternatively, vulnerable customers can work with Barclays to nominate a trusted third party to access banking services on their behalf. You should contact your local bank to discuss your options.

Barclays are also prioritising NHS workers and other care workers in branches and on the telephone. When you call or visit a branch, where possible, you will be taken to the front of the queue.

If, before 31 October, you applied for a temporary interest free overdraft of up to £500, Barclays have temporarily capped interest charges at £90 per month until the end of your two months’ requested support period. After that, interest charges on personal current accounts will be temporarily capped at £180 per month up until 21 March 2021. More information is available by clicking this link to the Barclays overdraft help webpage.

Barclays are still offering support to their mortgage customers who have been financially impacted by Coronavirus. This support may be payment holidays, temporarily reduced payments or both.

A payment holiday may not be the best thing for you in the long run, so it is important to contact Barclays to talk through which options will be. Missing a payment without communicating it to Barclays could negatively impact your credit score.

You can take up to six months of temporary coronavirus mortgage support from March 2020, in periods of up to three months at a time.

You can take periods of support flexibly at any time up to and including 31 March 2021 (until you reach the maximum of six months).

After 31 March 2021, you can only ask for more support if you’re already receiving temporary mortgage support.

Any temporary mortgage support they offer after 31 March 2021 will stop on 31 July 2021, even if you haven’t received the maximum of six months.

Click this link to view the support Barclays are offering to mortgage customers

To call Barclays about your mortgage, phone 0333 202 7580 Monday-Sunday: 7am-10:30pm. However, due to high call volumes they recommend accessing the information online in the first instance.

Barclays are also offering a number of ways to support personal loan customers who are, or might soon be, financially affected by the coronavirus situation. For example, they launched an online application form for customers wanting to apply for a Barclayloan payment holiday. You can apply by clicking this link. There is no need to call them after applying online – if Barclays accept your request, they will send you a confirmation and apply it automatically.

Barclaycard (credit card) customers can also apply for a payment holiday. Click here for more information or to apply.

Barclays customers who have a fixed savings account may be able to access and close the account early with no additional charges.

Barclays also have a dedicated webpage to help customers with all manners of financial issues.

To contact Barclays, please visit this webpage for options.

 

Click this link to see Barclays’ coronavirus advice webpage.

To find a local branch, click here to go to Barclays’ branch locator.

Danske Bank

If you do need to visit a Danske Bank branch, social distancing measures have been introduced. Danske Bank have also made changes to opening times in some of their branches.

Only five of their branches across Northern Ireland will remain open on a Saturday: Donegall Square West (Belfast), Ballymena, Newry, Omagh and Altnagelvin.

The following additional branches are now closed each day between 12.30-1.30pm: Armagh, Antrim, Ballyclare, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Carrickfergus, Comber, Cookstown, Downpatrick, Hillsborough, Limavady, Lurgan, Magherafelt, Mallusk, Strabane and University Road.

The first hour of opening at each branch is reserved for vulnerable and older customers. Danske Bank are asking all other customers to plan their branch visits outside these times.

For up-to-date information about your local branch, visit the online Danske Bank branch locator.

Danske Bank have requested customers who are worried about financial difficulties as a result of the coronavirus outbreak should get in touch with them. They will then be able to advise customers on how they can help.

Danske Bank has set up a dedicated number for NHS, emergency services and care workers. You can find the details below:

Main contact –  0345 6002 882

8am-6pm Monday-Friday

9am-5pm Saturday-Sunday

NHS, emergency and care worker contact – 028 9004 9263

8am-6pm Monday-Friday

9am-5pm Saturday-Sunday

Elderly and vulnerable customers contact – 0345 601 0089

8am-6pm Monday-Friday

9am-5pm Saturday-Sunday

Danske Bank are no longer offering interest free overdrafts. However, they can arrange a suitable repayment plan with you, to help you reduce down your overdraft balance over an agreed period of time.

Please click here for more information about overdraft assistance during the coronavirus pandemic.

Among the various types of support Danske bank are providing to customers who have been financially impacted by COVID-19, are payment holidays on your mortgage, personal loan and credit card. You need to apply by 31 March 2021 and all payment holidays must end by 31 July 2021.

A payment holiday may not be the best thing for you in the long run, so it is important to contact Danske Bank to talk through which options will be. Missing a payment without communicating it to Danske Bank could negatively impact your credit score.

If you are worried about making your monthly repayments on any of these, or to see what alternative help is available, please click here to visit the advice webpage on the Danske Bank website. To speak to an adviser telephone 0345 600 2882.

Phone lines for payment holiday enquiries are open 8am-6pm; Monday-Friday and 9am-5pm; Saturday-Sunday

Business customers who are worried about their cashflow have also been advised to get in contact or liaise with their relationship manager.

Click here to see Danske Bank’s coronavirus advice webpage.

To find a local branch, click here to go to Danske Bank’s branch locator.

Halifax

If you need to visit a Halifax branch, social distancing measures have been introduced.

If your finances have been impacted as a result of COVID-19, up until 31 December 2020 Halifax current account customers can apply for an interest free overdraft of up to £500 for 3 months. Click here for more information on the Halifax coronavirus help and support webpage.

Halifax are still offering payment holidays for mortgages, loans, credit cards and car finance loans. A payment holiday is subject to approval. If accepted, you won’t need to make the usual repayment amount for up to 3 months, this could be a reduced amount or your full monthly payment. You can only take up to 3 months at a time (6 months in total).

You need to apply by 31 March 2021 and all payment holidays must end by 31 July 2021.

Payment holidays may not be right for everyone as you will pay more as you take longer to pay back the amount you borrowed, and interest will continue to accrue on the amount you owe. You should, therefore, contact Halifax to discuss your options before applying.

Mortgage customers can apply for a payment holiday. Halifax have recommended that customers considering a mortgage payment holiday, or are in financial difficulty due to COVID-19, read the advice on the Halifax website by clicking this link.

To apply for a mortgage payment holiday, click this link.

Halifax have a dedicated mortgage application number, however it is only to be called if you cannot fill in the form online, for those who may not be eligible for a payment holiday and for vulnerable customers - 0345 850 3705 Monday-Friday: 8am-8pm, Saturday: 9am-4pm.

If you have already missed a mortgage payment please phone the following number: 0800 023 2679 Monday-Friday: 8am-7.30pm, Saturday 8am-12.30pm.

If you are worried about making your monthly personal loan repayments Halifax can offer payment holidays of up to 3 months at a time, up to a total of 6 months. If you would like to request a personal loan repayment holiday, you can do so by clicking on this link to the Loan Repayment Holiday page on the Halifax website.

Similarly, Halifax Credit Card customers who need additional support can access it by clicking this link to the Credit Card Repayment Holiday page on the Halifax website.

To request a car finance loan payment holiday sign into your online car finance account and follow the instructions. Further details can be found by clicking this link to the Halifax coronavirus advice page.

If you have savings in a fixed term account, you can now access this without being charged (excludes junior cash ISAs). To access your savings please call Halifax using the below number and they will arrange for your money to be moved into an account of your choice.

To contact Halifax, you can call - 0345 720 3040 Monday-Sunday: 7am-11pm.

Click here to see Halifax’s coronavirus advice webpage.

To find a local branch, click here to go to Halifax’s branch locator.

HSBC

HSBC have temporarily reduced their branch opening hours during the coronavirus crisis. Branches will be open from 10am – 2pm, Monday to Friday. All branches are closed at weekends until further notice.

They are no longer offering interest free overdrafts. However, if you are struggling to make the repayments you should contact them to see what help they can provide. Click this link to the HSBC website for more information on the assistance they can give.

HSBC are still offering payment holidays to customers who have been financially impacted by Coronavirus. You can only take a payment holiday of up to three months at a time and six months in total. You need to apply by 31 March 2021 and all payment holidays must end by 31 July 2021.

A payment holiday may not be the best thing for you in the long run, so it is important to contact HSBC to talk through which options will be. Missing a payment without communicating it to HSBC could negatively impact your credit score.

Mortgage customers are able to apply for a payment holiday. For further information and details on how to apply, please visit the HSBC mortgage holiday webpage.

If you have a loan from HSBC, and are struggling financially because of the coronavirus situation, you can apply to defer payments for three months. This gives you the chance to pause repayments without it impacting your credit file. Visit the HSBC Personal loan Repayment webpage to request to defer your loan repayments.

Similarly, HSBC credit card customers can apply for a three month payment holiday by HSBC credit cards payment holiday webpage.

Existing customers can contact HSBC on 03457 404 404. Lines are open 08:00 - 20:00 every day. From outside the UK phone +44 1226 261 010.

Other ways to contact HSBC can be found on the HSBC Help webpage.

Branch opening times

10am – 2pm Monday to Friday

Click here to see HSBC’s coronavirus advice webpage.

To find your local branch, click here to go to HSBC’s branch locator.

Marks and Spencer's (M&S)

Due to COVID-19, not all of M&S bank and Bureaux de Change branches are open. Visit their branch finder to find out if your local branch is open.

M&S are still offering payment holidays to customers who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. Visit the M&S website for more information.

A payment holiday may not be the best thing for you in the long run, so it is important to contact M&S to talk through which options will be. Missing a payment without communicating it to M&S could negatively impact your credit score.

Mortgage customers are able to apply for a payment holiday. Alternatively, you can apply to a reduced payment arrangement, or to extending the term of your mortgage. Please call 0345 002 1127 to discuss your circumstances.

If you have a loan from M&S, and are struggling financially because of the coronavirus situation, you can apply to defer payments for three months. To request a deferral of three monthly loan repayments, you can click this link to fill out their online form.

Similarly, M&S credit card customers can apply for a three month payment holiday by filling out the online form via this link.

In order to pay your credit card bill without the need to access a branch, click here to see the M&S advice webpage on paying remotely.

Customers are able to access their fixed-rate savings accounts without closure charges. If you're financially impacted by COVID-19 and need to access your savings, they are waiving access restrictions and early closure fees for the M&S Bank Fixed Rate Saver product. Customers can still close their Monthly Saver account and withdraw the funds earlier if they need to. 

M&S Bank is also allowing customers to request increase their credit card and overdraft limit - this would be reviewed and tailored on the basis of individual customer circumstances.

To contact M&S, please call their general enquiries line on:

Calling from the UK: 0345 600 5860

Calling from overseas: +44(0)1244 879080

Lines are open 8am-8pm

During 6-7pm each day, all lines are reserved for NHS workers. M&S Bank have requested that all other customers avoid calling them for their routine banking needs during these hours.

Click here to see M&S’ coronavirus advice webpage.

Monzo Bank

Interest free overdrafts came to an end on 31 October 2020. However if you are struggling financially, Monzo would like you to contact them to see what help they can provide. They recommend doing this via their app.

If you’re a Monzo loan customer and have been financially impacted by COVID-19, you can request a three month payment break up until 31 January 2021. You can also ask to extend your payment break by up to an additional three months before 31 January 2021, to a maximum of six months.

A payment holiday may not be the best thing for you in the long run, so it is important to contact Monzo via the app to discuss how best they can help. Missing a payment without communicating it to Monzo could negatively impact your credit score.

If you need to speak to them, telephone 0800 802 1281

Click here to see Monzo’s coronavirus advice webpage.

Nationwide

Nationwide have reduced their branch opening hours. Most branches are open 10am to 2pm Monday to Friday. However, some branches are now open 9am to 3pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 12pm Saturday. Before visiting your local branch, find out their opening times on Nationwides online branch locator.

However, they are encouraging members to sign up for internet banking and their banking app. Details of how to register for online banking are available by clicking on this link.

Nationwide are no longer offering interest free overdrafts. However, if you are struggling to make the repayments you should contact them to see what help they can provide. For more information, visit their overdraft information page on the Nationwide website.

Nationwide are offering payment holidays to customers who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. You can only take a payment holiday of up to three months at a time and six months in total.

A payment holiday may not be the best thing for you in the long run, so it is important to contact Nationwide to talk through which options will be. Missing a payment without communicating it to Nationwide could negatively impact your credit score.

Mortgage customers are able to apply for a three month payment holiday. If you’ve previously been given a three month payment holiday, you can apply for another, but the maximum period is six months in total. For further information and details on how to apply, please visit the Nationwide mortgage holiday webpage. They also provide details of alternative options to a payment holiday, which may be more beneficial to you.

If you have a loan from Nationwide, and are struggling financially because of the COVID-19 situation, you can apply for a loan “payment holiday”. Under this loan “payment holiday”, you will be able to reduce your monthly payments to £1 per month, for three months. This gives you the chance to reduce your repayments without it impacting your credit file. Click on this link to the Nationwide website to apply.

Similarly, Nationwide credit card customers can apply for a credit card payment reduction. This means you can temporarily reduce your credit card payments to £1 per month, for three months. Click on this link to the Nationwide website for more details.

If you have savings in a fixed term bond account, you are also able to withdraw money and close your account early without any penalties. Visit the Nationwide website for more details      .

Nationwide’s contact details can be found on this page of their website.

Branch opening times

10am – 2pm Monday to Thursday

Click here to see Nationwide’s coronavirus advice webpage.

To find your local branch click here for Nationwide’s branch locator webpage.

Progressive Building Society

If you need to visit a branch, social distancing measures have been introduced. Progressive have also reduced their branch opening hours during the coronavirus crisis. Branches in Northern Ireland are open Monday to Friday, 9am – 3pm and Saturday 9:30am – 12:30pm.

Smaller Agency branches may have closed their doors to visitors, but may still be contactable via telephone and the internet. Please telephone your local Progressive branch to find out how they can help you.

Depending on the type of savings account you have, you can transfer money into the account electronically from your bank account. Click this link to go to The Progressive website for details of how to manage your savings account.

If you need to contact Progressive, they have an online form you can complete, they will then get back to you. Click here to access the form on The Progressive website. Alternatively, you can call them Monday –  Friday between 9am –  5pm using the following numbers:

Mortgage Helpline - 02890 160950

Savings Helpline - 02890 160949

If you are having problems paying your mortgage, they also have a call back form you can fill in online to request further help or information regarding mortgages, and well as savings products, or to book an appointment with a qualified mortgage advisor. Click here to access the call back form on The Progressive website.

Branch opening times

9am – 12pm Monday to Friday

Click here to see The Progressive’s coronavirus advice webpage.

To find a local branch, click this link to The Progressive’s online branch locator.

Santander

The majority of branches have reduced their hours to 10am-2pm, Monday to Friday and no branches will be open at weekends. There are a number of exceptions to weekday opening times so please check your local branches details on Santander’s online branch locator.

If your finances have been impacted as a result of COVID-19, until 31 January 2021, Santander current account customers can apply for an interest free overdraft of up to £500 for three months. Click this link to visit the Santander website for more details about their overdraft support.

Santander are still offering payment holidays to customers who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. You can only take a payment holiday of up to three months at a time and six months in total. You need to apply by 31 March 2021 and all payment holidays must end by 31 July 2021.

A payment holiday may not be the best thing for you in the long run, so it is important to contact Santander to talk through which options will be. Missing a payment without communicating it to Santander could negatively impact your credit score.

Mortgage customers are able to apply for a payment holiday. If you have already had a payment holiday, you may be able to get another, but the maximum period is six months. For further information and details on how to apply, please visit the Santander mortgage holiday webpage.

If you have a loan from Santander and are struggling financially because of the COVID-19 situation, you can apply for a payment holiday for three months. This gives you the chance to pause repayments without it impacting your credit file. If you have already had a payment holiday, you may be able to get another, but the maximum period is six months. You can see more details, including how to apply, by clicking this link to the Santander website.

Similarly, Santander credit card customers can apply for a three month payment holiday by visiting this page on the Santander website.

You can access your money held in Santander fixed rate bonds and fixed rate ISAs before the end of the fixed term without being charged any fees. 

You may also be able to get help if you have monthly payments to a Santander Home Insurance policy or a Santander Car Insurance policy. Click on each link for details on how to access help with these policies.

Santander business customers have been advised to speak to their local Relationship Manager if they are in financial difficulty due to COVID-19.

To contact Santander, please try using online chat and social media if you can as phone lines are very busy. If you would prefer to phone them, please call 0800 912 3123 (open 24 hours a day, seven days a week).

Branch opening times

10am – 2pm Monday to Friday (at majority of branches – please check details of your local branch on the branch locator below)

Click here to see Santander’s coronavirus advice webpage.

To find a local branch, click this link to Santander’s online branch locator.

Tesco Bank

Tesco Bank are no longer offering interest free overdrafts. However, if you are struggling to make the repayments you should contact them to see what help they can provide. For more information, click this link to the overdraft support page on the Tesco Bank website.

If you’re a Tesco bank loan or credit card customer and have been financially impacted by COVID-19, you can request a three month payment break up until 31 January 2021. You can also ask to extend your payment break by up to an additional three months before 31 January 2021, to a maximum of six months.

Details of what the support Tesco Bank can offer loan and credit card customers are available by clicking this link to the Tesco Bank website.

Tesco Bank customers who have a Fixed Rate Saver or Fixed Rate Cash ISA are able to access and close the account early with no additional charges. To do this, call 0345 300 4547. More details can be found on the Tesco Bank website.

Tesco Bank will not be charging customers fees if they make any changes or cancel their insurance policy.

Click here to find out Tesco Bank contact details and opening times.

Click here for Tesco Bank’s coronavirus advice webpage.

Ulster Bank

If you’re financially impacted by coronavirus and haven’t already had the maximum of two 3 month interest free overdraft periods, you will have until 31st January 2021 to request £500 interest free on your existing arranged overdraft (or up to your existing arranged overdraft limit if lower than £500) for a three month period.

Ulster Bank will also reduce your interest rate on any borrowing above the interest free amount for the same period.

Visit the Ulster bank website for more information.

Ulster Bank are still offering payment holidays to customers who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. You can only take a payment holiday of up to three months at a time and six months in total. You need to apply by 31 March 2021 and all payment holidays must end by 31 July 2021.

A payment holiday may not be the best thing for you in the long run, so it is important to contact Ulster Bank to talk through which options will be. Missing a payment without communicating it to Ulster bank could negatively impact your credit score.

Mortgage customers are able to apply for a payment holiday. If you’ve already had a payment holiday, you may be able to get another, but the maximum period is six months. For further information and details on how to apply, please visit the Ulster Bank mortgage support webpage.

If you have a loan from Ulster Bank, and are struggling financially because of the COVID-19 situation, you can apply for a payment holiday for three months. This gives you the chance to pause repayments without it impacting your credit file. If you’ve already had a payment holiday, you may be able to get another, but the maximum period is six months. You can see more details, including how to apply, by clicking this link to the Ulster Bank website.

Similarly, Ulster Bank credit card customers can apply for a credit card payment reduction. This means you can temporarily reduce your credit card payments to £1 per month, for three months. You can apply for a three month credit card payment reduction by visiting this page on the Ulster Bank website.

If you have savings in a Ulster Bank fixed savings account, you are also able to withdraw money and close your account early without any penalties. To do this, please phone Ulster Bank on 03457 424 365. You can also close your fixed term savings account through Anytime Banking or your mobile app. For more information, click this link to the support page on the Ulster Bank website.

Support for Ulster Bank business customers is available via this link.

Contact details for Ulster Bank are available via this link.

Click here to visit Ulster Bank’s coronavirus advice webpage.

To find a local branch, click this link to Ulster Bank’s online branch locator.

Virgin Money

Virgin Money are allowing current account customers to apply for an interest free arranged overdraft buffer of up to £500. Even if you have an arranged overdraft which is less than £500, the buffer will mean that you won't pay any debit interest on the amount you choose to use up to £500. The buffer will last for 3 months from the day you apply. Click here to request an overdraft buffer on the Virgin Money website.

Click this link to the Virgin money website to apply for an overdraft If you don’t currently have one.

Virgin Money are also offering payment holidays to customers who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. You can only take a payment holiday of up to three months at a time and six months in total.

A payment holiday may not be the best thing for you in the long run, so it is important to contact Virgin Money to talk through which options will be. Missing a payment without communicating it to Virgin Money could negatively impact your credit score.

Mortgage customers are able to apply for a three month payment holiday. For further information and details on how to apply, visit the Virgin Money mortgage holiday webpage.

Similarly, credit card customers can apply for a three month payment holiday by clicking this link to the Virgin Money website.

To contact Virgin Money, click this link to their website for more information.

Virgin stores opening times have changed temporarily. Please visit their store locator below for details on your local store.

Click here to visit Virgin Money’s coronavirus advice webpage.

To find a local Virgin store, click here for Virgin’s online store locator.

Credit Unions

Information for credit union members

If you are a member of a credit union and you have any concerns during the current crisis, we would urge you to contact them either by phone or online. Check your local credit union’s opening hours to ensure their phone lines are open, or for a quick email response.

Credit unions are remaining open. If you need to physically visit your branch, please check the opening hours in advance as they are implementing strict social distancing and other COVID-19 preventative measures.

Some branches are also making arrangements (such as dedicated access hours) for older and more vulnerable members. Please check your credit union's website for this type of information.

Many credit unions also have an online banking facility where you can login or register directly on their website.

Find your local credit union

Credit unions are affiliated to either the Irish League of Credit Unions or the Ulster Federation of Credit Unions. To find your local branch it is advisable to look on the websites of both organisations.

For more help with finances such as how to look after your money efficiently, your options for borrowing money safely and where to go to for help if you are in debt, please visit the ‘True Cost’ page on our website.

Access To Cash for Vulnerable People and Alternative Ways to Pay for Things

Access to cash for people in self-isolation

If you have been advised to stay at home under all circumstances, there are options available for you to access your cash.

The Post Office’s “Payout Now” scheme allows people who are shielded or self-isolating to maintain access to cash without having to hand over a debit card and Pin to somebody else. 

You tell your bank exactly how much you want to withdraw from your account, up to a set limit, and they will send you a one-time barcode voucher by either SMS text, email or post. This allows a family member, a trusted friend or a volunteer to collect the cash on your behalf at a Post Office branch in exchange for the voucher.

Post Office have also launched the “Fast PACE” service which allows you to name a trusted individual, such as carer or family member, to cash a pre authorised cheque on your behalf at a Post Office branch.

Please be aware that, while these Post Office services have been made available to every bank, building society or credit union in Northern Ireland, it is up to the individual financial service provider as to whether or not they use them to provide cash.

Some providers have their own access to cash process in place. Please contact your bank, building society or credit union to see what they are offering and discuss how you can access your money.

Alternative ways to pay for things

Over the coming months, at some point some of you may find yourself unable to leave your home for basic supplies – such as groceries or medical products. This may be for a short time, or it may be for an extended period if you are in a high-risk category, as specified by the UK government.

Regardless, there are several ways for you to pay for these items whether you have access to the internet or not. UK Finance have a lot of useful advice on their website which covers this.

The services offered by individual banks or building societies will differ, but providers are keeping their websites up to date with the latest information to help their customers.

Finance and Debt Advice

Advice on managing your money during the coronavirus crisis

You may have noticed your spending has changed during the coronavirus crisis. For example, you may find you are using more energy, your food bills are bigger or perhaps you are spending less on transport.

Online interactive budgeting tool

The Council Consumer has a free online interactive budgeting tool that can help you manage your money and identify areas where you can potentially make savings.

There is no need to enter any sensitive personal or banking information, as our budgeting tool is straightforward to use and only requires you to enter your income and outgoings.

The budgeting tool then provides you with a spending report that allows you to easily and transparently review your spending, see where your money is going and potentially identify key areas to cut costs. The tool will even signpost you to free tools and advice agencies to help you save money.

The interactive budgeting tool is available by visiting budgettool.consumercouncil.org.uk.

Downloadable budget planner

There is also a free downloadable budgeting planner if you prefer to review your spending on paper. You can call us on 0800 121 6022 to request a printed copy.

Energy Price Comparison Tool

We can also help you to save money on your energy bills. Our energy price comparison tool will enable you to compare electricity and gas tariffs for every supplier in Northern Ireland.

Weekly home heating oil prices

Our weekly oil survey provides the average, cheapest and dearest oil prices in Northern Ireland. Updated every week, consumers can also find the average price of home heating oil in their own locality by visiting home heating oil survey.

I’m worried about getting into debt, or my debt getting worse

You may have payment agreements with creditors (lenders) other than the main financial institutions like, banks and building societies. For example, you may have hire purchase agreements, car finance, insurance, catalogue accounts or store cards.

The Financial Conduct Authority (the regulatory body for financial services) have introduced a number of measures to help customers during the coronavirus pandemic. These changes are intended to provide help for short-term cash flow problems.

Financial service providers must help you if you’re having financial difficulties as a result of COVID-19. Under the circumstances created by the coronavirus pandemic, lenders are showing a great deal of forbearance when it comes repayments.

If you’re struggling to make your loan payments, firms should consider:

  • suspending, reducing, waiving or cancelling any further interest or charges
  • deferring payment of arrears
  • accepting smaller payments for a reasonable period of time

Contact your provider, or visit their website or social media, to see what help they may be providing to customers facing financial difficulties as a result of the on-going emergency. It is far better to do this than to miss payments without permission.

It is important to take the time to consider whether or not a payment holidays is the best option for you given your own circumstances, as it is just a suspension of payments. You will still owe the same amount of money and you will continue to accrue interest on it during the payment holiday.

If you feel that you have no option but to borrow cash fast, or your financial situation is a constant worry, there is help available.

Visit our 'True Cost' webpage for helpful information about where to go to for help. 

A list of advice agencies that may be able to help you if you are worried about debt is available on www.consumercouncil.org.uk

Personal loans (guarantor loans, logbook loans and home collected credit), store cards and catalogue credit

Regulations have been introduced for personal loan, store card and catalogue credit providers. Under these updated regulations, lenders must help you if you’re having financial difficulties as a result of COVID-19.

One way they can help is to allow you to take a payment holiday. For more information see www.fca.org.uk. If providers of credit do not offer you a payment holiday, they are required to provide some sort of tailored support. You will need to be as open and transparent as possible about your situation when talking to your lender. This will help make sure they give you options to manage your debts in a way that doesn’t create significant hardship or greater debt.

If you have not yet taken a payment holiday, you may still be able to apply for one. Also, if you’ve already taken a payment holiday, but are still struggling with your payments, your provider may also allow you to apply for another payment holiday or partial payment holiday, as long as the total length of payment holidays don’t exceed a maximum of 6 months in total. 

If they do allow you to take a payment holiday it is important to remember that you still owe the amounts that you don't pay during the holiday. This means that, at the end of the payment holiday, you will have to make up the missed payments. Also, interest will continue to be charged on the amount you owe which means that you will owe more than you did before agreeing a payment holiday.

It is important that consumer credit customers who can afford to do so continue to make repayments. Borrowers should only take up this support if they really need it.

A payment holiday may not be the best thing for you in the long run, so it is important to contact your lender to talk through which options will be. Missing a payment without communicating it to your provider could negatively impact your credit score.

I’m struggling to keep up with my motor finance payments

If you are having trouble meeting finance or leasing payments due to COVID-19, you can apply for a payment freeze of up to a total of six months.

However, it is important to remember that you still owe the amounts that you don't pay as a result of the payment freeze. This means that, at the end of the payment freeze, you will have to make up the missed payments. Also, interest will continue to be charged on the amount you owe which means that you will owe more than you did before agreeing a payment freeze.

A payment freeze may not be the best thing for you in the long run, so it is important to contact your finance provider to talk through which options will be. Missing a payment without communicating it to your provider could negatively impact your credit score.

Firms should not alter agreements in a way that is unfair. If you want to keep your vehicle at the end of your PCP agreement, but, due to COVID-19 can’t afford it, firms should work with you to find a solution.

High-cost short-term credit payments (including payday loans)

If you can’t make payments due to coronavirus, you can request a payment freeze on your high-cost short-term credit loan for at least 1 month. These loans usually charge high interest rates but under the current circumstances, the lender should not charge any additional interest.

The application for a payment deferral can only be made once.

If you need any further support with regard to repaying your loan, you should always speak to your lender to make them aware of your financial position. The lender should then work with you to see what additional forbearance measures they can put in place.

Rent-to-own agreements

If Coronavirus has left you in financial difficulty, you can apply for a repayment deferral of up to six months on your rent-to-own agreement.

Borrowers who are currently benefitting from a first payment deferral are able to apply for a second deferral, but the total deferral period must not be more than six months.

It is important to remember that you still owe the amounts that you don't pay as a result of the payment deferral. This means that, at the end of the payment deferral, you will have to make up the missed payments. Also, interest will continue to be charged on the amount you owe which means that you will owe more than you did before agreeing a payment deferral.

A payment deferral may not be the best thing for you in the long run, so it is important to contact your finance provider to talk through which options will be. Missing a payment without communicating it to your provider could negatively impact your credit score.

Additionally, if at the end of the payment deferral period you need any further support with regard to making payments, you should always speak to your finance provider to make them aware of your financial position. The provider should then work with you to see what additional forbearance measures they can put in place.

If you need the goods during this period, they will not be repossessed. Currently rent-to-own firms are unable to collect or repossess your goods, but they should not charge you extra for this (unavoidable) extension of your agreement.

Buy-now pay-later agreements

With ‘buy now, pay later’ agreements, If Covid-19 has resulted in your finances being affected, you can ask for a repayment deferral of up to six months.

Borrowers who are currently benefitting from a first payment deferral are able to apply for a second deferral, but the total deferral period must not be more than six months.

It is important to remember that you still owe the amounts that you don't pay as a result of the payment deferral. This means that, at the end of the payment deferral, you will have to make up the missed payments. Also, interest will continue to be charged on the amount you owe which means that you will owe more than you did before agreeing a payment deferral.

A payment deferral may not be the best thing for you in the long run, so it is important to contact your finance provider to talk through which options will be. Missing a payment without communicating it to your provider could negatively impact your credit score.

Additionally, if at the end of the payment deferral period you need any further support with regard to making payments, you should always speak to your finance provider to make them aware of your financial position. The provider should then work with you to see what additional forbearance measures they can put in place.

If you are within a promotional period, your lender should mirror that period with the length of the deferral period. During a promotional period, you do not have to make repayments each month but will be charged interest on any balance you have not paid back by the end of that period.

Pawnbroking

If you are having temporary difficulties meeting payments due to coronavirus, you can request a deferral on payments on your pawnbroking agreement for up to six months.

Borrowers who are currently benefitting from a first payment deferral are able to apply for a second deferral, but the total deferral period must not be more than six months.

It is important to remember that you still owe the amounts that you don't pay as a result of the payment deferral. This means that, at the end of the payment deferral, you will have to make up the missed payments. Also, interest will continue to be charged on the amount you owe which means that you will owe more than you did before agreeing a payment deferral.

A payment deferral may not be the best thing for you in the long run, so it is important to contact your pawnbroker to talk through which options will be. Missing a payment without communicating it to your provider could negatively impact your credit score.

Additionally, if at the end of the payment deferral period you need any further support with regard to making payments, you should always speak to your pawnbroker to make them aware of your financial position. The pawnbroker should then work with you to see what additional forbearance measures they can put in place.

The redemption date will be extended for this period. If the date has already passed, an item you have pawned should not be sold for that period. If notice of intention to sell has been given already, the firm should suspend the sale for the period of the payment deferral.

Additional Information Sources

Which?

Which? provides further information on other lenders, available on www.which.co.uk

Financial Conduct Authority

The Financial Conduct Authority has information on support for consumers on its website, available on www.fca.org.uk/consumers/coronavirus-covid-19.

They have also published information for customers on personal loans, credit cards and overdrafts. This is available on the FCA website.

Additional information for consumers about insurance is available on www.fca.org.uk/consumers/insurance-and-coronavirus.

The Financial Conduct Authority has also outlined its expectations of firms and insurance companies during this period. You can read the guidance on its website by visiting www.fca.org.uk/firms/insurance-and-coronavirus-our-expectations.

Money Advice Service

The Money Advice Service has useful information on the coronavirus and what it means for you and your money on its website, available on www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk

There is also a handy Money Navigator tool to help people navigate their finances in the wake of COVID-19 and avoid financial issues worsening in future.

Association of British Insurers (ABI)

ABI has produced a guide to some on the most commonly asked questions on different types of insurance and protections. You can view it on the ABI’s website by visiting www.abi.org.uk

The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS)

MaPS website has information on how to deal with or put off any of the financial affects you might be experiencing due to the coronavirus, available on maps.org.uk/.

MaPs has also launched an online tool to help people navigate their finances in the wake of COVID-19 and avoid financial issues worsening in future. The Money Navigator tool is available on Money Advice Service website www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk

UK Finance

UK Finance has a dedicated COVID-19 webpage that provides businesses and consumers with up to date details of the support available, whether in the form of business loans or assistance with mortgage payments, and where to go for advice. Click www.ukfinance.org.uk/covid-19.

They also have some guidance on making payments securely during lockdown – the different methods and how to access them, which you can see by visiting www.ukfinance.org.uk/covid-19-making-payments-safely-lockdown. You can also use their online tool which will help you choose which payment options are best for you to use, which you can access by visiting www.ukfinance.org.uk/covid-19-making-payments-safely-lockdown-interactive-tool.

UK Pensions Regulator

Provides information for trustees, employers and administrators of pensions schemes. This information is available at www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk.

Mortgage paras taken out on 2 November- it may need to go back in once the FCA guidance has been updated.

There will be various options for making up for the missed payments, for example by increasing your monthly payments slightly, or by adding a short extension to your term. Your lender will be able to explain to you what options it offers.

Speak to your mortgage provider if you are worried about missing mortgage payments. Explain your situation and ask what they can do to help you in the current circumstances. It is important that you speak to your mortgage provider and do not just miss a payment without communicating it to your provider, this could negatively impact your credit score.

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The Consumer Council is authorised and regulated by The Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker. Our Firm Number is 913082.