If you are worried about the potential impact of COVID-19 on your ability to work, and therefore your financial situation, you are not alone. We’ve provided some guidance below on what you can do, the financial support that you may be able to access, and how you should prioritise your payments.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for people struggling with debt
1. What will happen with my existing debt management plan?
Are you still open?
Yes! We’re still working and like a lot of companies we had to switch to home working to protect our staff. We are now taking steps to safely bring more of our staff back to our office and to revert to our normal opening hours. Our contact page will be kept updated with our current opening hours and ways to get in touch with us.
Should I carry on making payments?
If you can afford to continue paying your plan, we will continue to send payments to your creditors as usual.
I can’t afford my payments, what can I do?
If your income has been affected by Coronavirus and you’re struggling with your payments, let us know as soon as possible so we can agree a payment break with your creditors. If you don’t tell us, any missed payments will be unauthorised and may be reported to the credit reference agencies as missed.
You can contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call us on 01925 599400, or speak to an agent using Live Chat.
Do I still need to do my annual review?
If your financial situation hasn’t been affected by Coronavirus, you can continue with your plan review as normal. If you’re review is due and you’ve already told us that you can’t make payments because of Coronavirus, we’ll postpone your review until things have returned to normal.
If you feel that your situation is too uncertain at the moment to complete your annual review, let us know and we can discuss completing it at a more suitable time. If you don’t let us know, you may continue to receive reminders.
Will I still get statements?
Now that our staff have returned to the office you should receive your statement as normal. Any statements that weren’t sent by email should have been sent to you by now. If you haven’t received your statements, please get in touch and we can re-issue any missing statements to you.
2. What will happen with my IVA?
If your financial situation has been impacted by Coronavirus, you will need to speak with our IVA team so we can gather some information about your situation and agree a payment break with you for a suitable amount of time.
You will need to let us know before you stop paying, otherwise there’s a risk that your IVA could fail. You can contact us at email@example.com or on 01925 599400.
3. What financial support can I get if I’m affected by coronavirus?
You can find more information about the financial support that’s available if you’re off work because of coronavirus, have lost your job, or are self-employed with less/no work, here.
4. What support can I get with my bills?
Contact your mortgage company – all mortgage lenders can still allow a 3 month payment holiday if you’re unable to pay because of coronavirus. Contact them as soon as possible – they can only help if you let them know that you have a problem. Make sure that you keep a note of any conversations you have with your lender. Also bear in mind that, if you take a payment holiday, you may need to increase your mortgage payment later on. Alternatively, they could be tagged onto the end of your mortgage which means you could end up paying interest on them for the remaining term. This is worth considering if you don’t really need the payment holiday, and you should check the terms of the arrangement with your lender before you agree to it.
You can find more information about support with your mortgage here
Similarly, if you rent, you should ask your landlord if you can reduce your rent or take a break from your rent payments. Landlords now will usually have to give 6 months’ notice before starting eviction proceedings which could give you enough time to catch up the missed payments. However, these payments will need to be paid back at some point so it’s best you pay as much as you can so you won’t owe as much later on.
The FCA has been working with the organisations it regulates to support consumers affected by coronavirus. You can find further information about support with loans, credit cards, overdrafts and insurance here.
5. What if I’m struggling with debt but not in a solution?
You should always prioritise your housing, council tax, utilities, and food costs before any unsecured debts.
Don’t be tempted to borrow more money to cover your existing unsecured debt repayments, especially not with high cost (payday) lenders. If you do, you could find yourself struggling to meet repayments when things return to normal.
If you have been struggling with your debts for a while and/or are not expecting your situation to improve in the short-term, you should seek debt advice. We can offer debt advice online, or by telephone on 01925 599400.
You may be able to find a debt solution to help manage your current debts, but you shouldn’t rush into a solution if there’s a chance that your situation could change. There are short-term options available if you’re hoping for things to improve.