By Grace Walsh
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, financial experts have been talking about the long-term effects of the virus on our economy.
Martin Lewis, the money saving expert said in his recent newsletter on coronavirus, “Sadly, the question isn't whether the impact of the gradual shutdown across the UK will be devastating on businesses and personal finances - that's a given. The real unknown is how long it will last.”
To help those who might be struggling or looking for ways to save at this time, Martin put together 14 things that you absolutely need to know about how to save money in these troubling times…
Martin Lewis: my money tips for coronavirus
1. Three-month mortgage holidays and credit card forbearance are available.
If you’re struggling to keep up with your bills and keep food on the table, Martin says you should speak to your bank. Most have said that they offer forbearance (tolerance and help), following the Chancellor’s announcement he’d got a “forbearance commitment” from all of them.
2. Urgently speak to your landlord if you’re struggling to pay rent
This could be a big help with money saving during the coronavirus. Although the Chancellor hasn’t yet announced direct help for renters, there may be more to come in the next couple of days. Martin has said people should talk to their landlords about their financial situations and ask for more time to pay rent if needed.
3. If you’re employed, you’re owed statutory sick pay
Whether you’re forced to self-isolate because you’re sick or just as a precaution, you are due statutory sick pay from day one. To be eligible you need to earn on average at least £118 per week, and you’ll receive £94 a week in pay.
4. The Foreign Office has advised against anything other than essential travel anywhere outside the UK
This is key trigger for travel insurance. At the moment this is happening for 30 days, although it could be extended. If you do have a trip booked in this time and have taken out travel insurance, you might be due a refund even if the flights/hotel are still running.
5. You have the right to take time off work if your child’s school closes
But it might be unpaid. By law, if your child cannot go to school then you can take off some time to look after your kids.
However, you won’t get sick pay and legally have no right to be paid during this time.
6. You might be able to claim employment support allowance if you’re self-employed or freelance
People off work and not entitled to sick pay may be able to claim benefits from the first day they’re off, says Martin. The main one is employment support allowance, which pays £73 per week.
7. If you’re struggling or think you might, you should check now if you’re entitled to benefits
As well as the specific help available for coronavirus, it’s important to check whether there’s any other help you might be able to receive.
8. You should get a refund if a concert, theatre or sporting event has been cancelled
If you bought tickets from an official seller, you should be entitled to get your money back (minus delivery or booking fees). But Martin adds that you might want to consider how hard you push for it, as depending on who the firm is, many events companies will be struggling right now.
9. Most banks will allow you to access your fixed savings without any penalty
Normally if you’ve locked money away in a fixed-rate savings account, you have to pay a penalty fee to get it out befor the fix term is up. However, at least eight banks have said that they’ll waive penalties for those struggling during the pandemic.
10. Some firms will help you top up prepaid energy
If you’re self-isolating and don’t have a smart meter you can top up remotely, you can get a trusted person to take your key and card to the ship for you. Some firms are also saying they can help though, with Bulb and EDP able to post preloaded top-up cards to you or keys with emergency credit.
11. You might be able to pause your sports subscription service
Martin Lewis says that even though the coronavirus has meant that sporting events have been cancelled, Sky and BT Sport are not offering refunds for sports services at the moment. So if you’ve paid then unfortunately there will be no refund. But Sky has said that you can “pause” your subscription for the time being.
12. If you are (or might be) made redundant, it’s important to know your rights
Get a survival plan in place to help with money saving during the coronavirus, Martin says, as we are likely to see an increase in redundancies. It is also likely to be difficult to find alternative employment while the shutdown conditions are still on. But you do have rights, so it’s important to know what they are.
13. You can get a partial refund on season train tickets
Although you can’t “pause” a train season ticket, many firms will let you cancel and get a refund for the rest of the time left on your ticket. There will most likely be an admin fee, however, of around £10.
14. You can no longer get new travel insurance to cover the coronavirus
Annual policies also may not cover new bookings, so if you have a holiday booked but no insurance then it is too late. Martin says that his team are currently unaware of any policies that offer cover for coronavirus-caused cancellations and claims. However, if you’ve booked a holiday and are affected, some airlines (such as British Airways) are letting customers rebook trips, while hotels and car hire firms are also offering some flexibility.
Martin Lewis and his team's newsletter has loads of other great, money saving deals and tips to help you through the coronavirus uncertainty.
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