The Government has announced an extensive programme of financial support. Details, to the extent so far defined, are posted on the internet. Principal elements are:
- Salary/wages of staff unable to work financed by government to 80% of their in-work value https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-those-affected-by-covid-19/support-for-those-affected-by-covid-19
- Sick Pay – https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay/what-youll-get;
- Universal Credit for the self-employed – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses;
- Council tax bills – Government has announced a £500m Hardship Fund for Council Tax Relief. Those needing help must contact East Northants as soon as possible to discuss and ask for a special payment arrangement.
- Utility bills, “Any energy customer in financial distress will also be supported by their supplier, which could include debt repayments and bill payments being…….reduced or paused……disconnection of credit meters will be completely suspended” (Dept of Business, Energy, & Industrial Strategy). Those needing help must contact their supplier first.
- Mortgage repayments – mortgage providers have said they are ready to support customers who are experiencing issues with their finances, including the option of a payment holiday. Those concerned should contact their provider at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss options available.
- Rent payments – If a tenant is experiencing financial difficulties, they will not face the threat of eviction for at least 3 months and their Landlord should offer a payment holiday of 3 months. If in difficulty with payments, landlords should be contacted as soon as possible.
- Repayments on loans –people experiencing difficulties paying back personal loans or credit card bills, are pointed at:
- the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which has called on lenders to use flexibility built into their rules to support consumers, taking into account customers’ individual circumstances. Many major lenders have already made statements to this effect;
- for loans or credit card bills, discussing the problem with their lender – where a payment holiday is agreed with a lender, the lender should record it in such a way that will not impact on creditworthiness score
Support available from existing charities
Existing charities provide support of various forms, albeit some is effectively means-tested.
- Citizens Advice Bureaux provide information to help understand and apply for Government Benefits. The nearest CABs to Titchmarsh are in Kettering, Corby, and Wellingborough. Advice can also be found at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/policy/policy-research-topics/welfare-policy-research-surveys-and-consultation-responses/welfare-policy-research/helping-people-through-the-covid-19-pandemic/ and on a National Advice Line 03444 111 444;
- Food banks provide free food to those in severe hardship. Most require a referral from either local government social services or from a social services profession (the latter includes GPs). The Trussell Trust https://www.trusselltrust.org/ is one of the country’s major food bank operators and has stringent rules covering access to its resources.
- Turn2us https://www.turn2us.org.uk/About-Us is a national charity that provides practical help to people who are struggling financially. The charity helps people understand the benefits they are entitled to and to claim them, helps people find other grant making charities from which they might access funds, and provides grant funding in its own right (albeit its web site indicates that it is currently working out how it will deal with corvid-19 related hardship).