- Coronavirus - Your financial guide
Coronavirus - Your financial guide
The coronavirus pandemic is having a significant impact on our everyday lives. It's important we all work together and follow the guidelines set out by the government to slow the spread of the virus – available here.
We've pulled together this guide to help you understand how coronavirus might affect you finances and to signpost some of the support available.
Note: we don't offer financial advice, so important you do your own research and obtain expert advice where needed.
I'm struggling with my energy bills
You should contact your energy supplier directly for support and advice.
- A statement from Budget Energy (link)
- An update from Click Energy (link)
- An update from SSE Airtricity (link)
- An update from Electric Ireland NI (link)
- Covid-19 update from Power NI (link)
I'm struggling with my mortgage bill
In March, due to the unprecedented situation the government has agreed with providers that those who are struggling could take a temporary 3-month break from payments — this is known as a payment holiday. In early June, the government and lenders agreed to extend the deadline for the scheme until 31st October.
Interest will still be charged during any break, but you won't have to pay it back immediately.
You should contact your mortgage provider directly to apply. Most have further details online.
I'm struggling with my rent bill
You should speak to your landlord if you're struggling to pay your rent. You may be able to reach an agreement such as a rent reduction, or deferral of payment. It's important you capture any agreement in writing.
Currently, tenants are protected from eviction if they are facing financial hardship due to Covid-19. Guidance from the government has stated no evictions should take place at this time (with exceptions for anti-social possessions). Additionally, emergency legislation has been brought forward in August compelling landlords to provide tenants with a minimum 12-week ‘notice to quit’ period before eviction proceedings can be begin.
The department for communities has prepared a comprehensive guide with practical advice for renters and landlords available here.
We also recommend you contact an organisation such as Housing Rights for further advice.
I'm struggling with credit card or loan payments
You can ask your lender for a freeze or partial payment freeze on repayments for 3 months. Interest will still be accrued in this period, so you may pay higher costs over the long term. This support is available 31 October.
If you have already taken a payment holiday and it is due to come to an end before 31 October, you may be able to extend this facility or obtain other help from your lender. This will be dependent on your circumstances.
You can find further information from the FCA (who regulates consumer credit) here.
I'm struggling with car finance payments
The FCA (consumer credit regulator) have announced measures to support customers facing payment difficulties due to Covid-19.
Car finance lenders are now required to offer a 3-month payment freeze to customers who are facing temporary hardship. Additionally, there is a temporary ban on repossessions until 31 October. If you are struggling with payments, you should discuss support options with the lender.
For further formation see the FCA announcement.
I've heard there is support for overdrafts
Yes, that's correct.
If you already have an arranged overdraft, you can ask your provider to make the first £500 of overdraft borrowing interest free for 3 months. If your current limit is less than £500, then you won't pay any interest up your existing limit.
If you don't have an arranged overdraft, or your limit is less than £500, you can request a new overdraft facility or an increased limit. This will be subject to the normal affordability checks.
This support was initially offered by lenders in March for a 3-month period. The scheme has been extended and consumers are entitled to ask their provider for a further 3-month extension until 31st October.
You can read more about this on the FCA website here.
I'm worried about my pension
Many pension savers are dependent on stock market investments.
The important point to note here is, do not panic.
Volatility (ups and downs) is normal for financial markets. In general terms, the longer you are invested, the greater the chance of you generating long-term returns.
We strongly recommend you take independent expert advice before making any decisions around your pension. Further sources of information are available on the nidirect website.
I need additional support
For practical local advice, we recommend contacting your local council in the first instance. You find their contact details here.
You can read more about what the UK Government is doing here.