The arrival of coronavirus in the UK and the threat of infection has emptied streets, confined us in our houses, closed shops and offices and filled hospitals with thousands of patients. So far so bad, but the financial issues have widened the scale of the problem: many of those fortunate enough to remain healthy have suffered a loss of income so drastic that even the paying of essential household bills has become questionable.
However, there are definite steps you can take to tackle these bills. Many banks and utility companies, being keenly aware of people’s predicaments, have already reached out to their customers with offers of help. So don’t ignore your bills but get in touch with the companies to whom you owe money, or expect to owe money. They might be able to help by redistributing your debts, letting you pay in smaller amounts, over a longer time period, or on a deferred basis.
If you are repaying a mortgage, contact your provider. The government has mooted the idea of a three-month mortgage payment holiday and you might be eligible for it.
If you pay rent, contact your landlord to discuss the situation. If you are at risk of being evicted, remember that since 26 March 2020 the law on evictions has temporarily changed and, for many types of tenancy, eviction notices have to last a minimum of three months.
You might be able to claim benefits, or enhanced benefits if you already receive them. The Citizens Advice website has details: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk
As for Council Tax, if your income has dropped or you are on benefits, you might qualify for reductions. Contact your local district council, using the details on your latest bill.
Get in touch with your gas or electricity supplier, as well as telephone/broadband company. Their help line phone numbers should be on your latest bill. They can tell you whether a special payment plan can be set up.
If you owe income tax, HMRC has a free help line you can ring: 0800 015 9559 (Mon-Fri 8 to 4).
For further information, Citizens Advice Adviceline is always there to help you: 0300 330 9042.
As our teams are busy, we are encouraging people to first look for advice online at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/coronavirus. If an answer cannot be found, please call Adviceline on 0300 330 9042 or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
There has been a substantial increase in demand for advice locally. We had to close our advice centres for face-to-face advice in mid-March but we have equipped over 90 advisers and staff to operate our Adviceline service from home. They have access to the latest information and all the necessary security and confidentiality protocols have been put in place. We are very grateful to them for adapting to these new arrangements so quickly.
The problems people are facing
Across the country, there has been a record-breaking demand for our online service with over 2 million visits to our website last week. Almost a quarter of those page views were on four issues related to Coronavirus:
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