The coronavirus outbreak is not just a health crisis - it is also affecting our finances.
Incomes and spending are changing rapidly and it is difficult to keep up and get the right information.
Our Made of Money team will be keeping this page up to date with links to accurate and helpful information.
Money Saving Expert has broken down its advice into seven categories; their site is regularly updated and they let you know what is new or has been changed:
- Guidance for employees - your rights at work as an employee
- Guidance for the self-employed - your rights if you're self employed including help for limited company directors
- Help with finance and bills - many are worrying about paying their mortgages, rent and other bills. This guide runs through help for financial products and other bills.
- Life-in-lockdown help - many are worried about cancelled events, unused train tickets, subscriptions, gym memberships, postponed weddings, free school meals, MOTs and more. This guide looks at what lockdown could mean for you, plus your rights if you've been affected.
- Coronavirus travel rights - answering questions on travel insurance, cancelling and booking holidays, and much more.
- Universal credit and benefits - what benefits you can claim to help you through this difficult time
Comprehensive online information here from the Money and Pensions Service about financial implications for individuals of the coronavirus outbreak: moneyadviceservice.org.uk/coronavirus-information
- Citizens Advice - if you’ve been affected by the coronavirus crisis, Citizens Advice can help you find out if you can claim benefits or get more on your current benefits: citizensadvice.org.uk/coronavirus-check-what-benefits-you-can-get
- Department for Work and Pensions - information on coronavirus and claiming Universal Credit: understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus
- Turn2Us offers advice on benefit entitlement and coronavirus here: turn2us.org.uk/get-support/Benefits-and-Coronavirus
If you were already on benefits before the coronavirus outbreak, the DWP have put together this guide: gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-what-to-do-if-youre-already-getting-benefits
Step Change – some very helpful up-to-date advice for most situations if you're worried about debt: stepchange.org/debt-info/debt-and-coronavirus
Debt Camel - an easy to understand blog written by a debt expert with a number of good further links: debtcamel.co.uk/tag/coronavirus/
Advice for parents
This frequently updated resource from Working Families offers guidance around a whole host of issues, including work, childcare, benefits and advice for new and expectant parents: workingfamilies.org.uk/coronavirus/
Problems with using cash
You've probably noticed many shops are now only accepting card payments. If you are someone who usually uses cash, think about getting a prepaid card. More information here at Money Saving Expert: moneysavingexpert.com/credit-cards/prepaid-cards/
Sadly, not everyone is being neighbourly in these difficult circumstances. The number of scams online, over the phone and calling at people’s doors has increased, so we need to be extra careful.
What to look out for:
- Gov.uk scams - ignore text messages that claim to be fining you for going outside. There’s often a link to a fake gov.uk website asking for your details.
- HMRC relief scam - lookout for text messages from fraudsters impersonating HMRC and offering tax relief. You'll be taken to a fake website and asked to enter your details. If you see it, make sure to report it to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Health information scam - help and advice emails are being sent from accounts pretending to be the NHS and the World Health Organisation. Be suspicious and make sure not to click on any attachments that might enable them to access your financial details. Learn how to verify if you are actually being contacted by the government’s Test and Trace service.
- Good samaritan scams - be careful with the information you share in online community groups - fraudsters are trawling online platforms to get hold of your personal data that they will use at a later date to scam you.
- Investment scams - lookout for investment offers that sound to good to be true at the moment. Make sure to check they are regulated on the FCA register and confirm they exist on Companies House.
Helpful guides and tools:
- The Money and Pensions Service has a "beginners’ guide", with general information and very useful advice: moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/beginners-guide-to-scams
- How-To Geek has a brilliant guide to spotting a text message scam: howtogeek.com/563906/how-to-spot-a-text-message-scam
- Age UK has produced this useful and readable resource: ageuk.org.uk/avoiding_scams
- Money Saving Expert gives comprehensive information on stopping scams here: moneysavingexpert.com/shopping/stop-scams
- Friends Against Scams are providing information about specific scams relating to the COVID-19 outbreak: friendsagainstscams.org.uk
For advice on scams you can call Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 11 33. You can report an email scam to the National Cyber Security Centre here.
Some people are going to be in desparate need and may turn to illegal money lenders aka loan sharks. The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) is fully committed to ensuring that illegal money lenders do not take advantage and profit from other people’s hardship.
The Stop Loan Sharks helpline service (0300 555 2222) remains open and fully operational during the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage not only victims but friends, family members and the wider community to come forward if they suspect someone is suffering at the hands of loan sharks.
Saving and giving
Some people may find they’re spending less during this time; working from home may mean not spending so much on travel, lunch and entertainment. This could be a good time to start putting some money aside. If it helps, set a savings goal like building yourself a financial safety net or saving for a holiday or a family day out. You could also help others, by giving money or your time to a good cause.
If you are one of the lucky ones who is saving a bit, here are some suggestions:
- Donate your travel costs to a charity appeal. Lots of charities are appealing on Twitter using #donateyourcommute or #giveafare.
- Many councils are running coronavirus appeals to support their residents, so check your local council’s website.
- Give food to your local foodbank – find your nearest one: trusselltrust.org
- Guidance on savings accounts from Money Saving Expert: moneysavingexpert.com/savings
- Independent guidance and infomation on saving from Moneyfacts: moneyfacts.co.uk
- Make a money box with your children and get them saving too: things-to-make-and-do.co.uk/how-to-make-a-money-box