Measures for Individuals

25 March 2020 - Elizabeth Nichols

Mortgage holidays

Update November 2020: The scheme was due to end on Saturday, 31 October, but after the announcement of a four-week national lockdown that same day, lenders have extended mortgage holidays. 

Borrowers who have not yet had a mortgage holiday can request from their lender a pause in repayments, that can last up to six months.

Those who have had their payments deferred already, can extend their mortgage holiday until they reach the six-month limit.

During this period interest will still accrue on what borrowers owe.

For people who find themselves in financial difficulties because of coronavirus, mortgage lenders will offer at least a three-month mortgage holiday.
Statutory sick pay (SSP)
SSP is currently paid at the rate of £95.85. It is now available to employees from day one, instead of day four, for those who are suffering from the virus or who have been advised to self-isolate. So far there has been no change in the minimum earnings threshold for SSP (£120 a week in currently).
MOT's on cars, motorcycles and light vans that are due after 30 March 2020 will be exempt from needing an MOT for 6 months from this date. There is no need to apply as it will be given automatically. Lorries, buses and trailers will be exempt for 3 months from 21 March but some will need to apply. Details here –
Contactless payments
From 1 April, the contactless limit for in-store spending is to increase from £30 to £45 in a bid to cut the need for physical contact in shops amid the coronavirus epidemic.

Banks – Overdraft
Lloyds Group (Lloyds, Halifax, Bank of Scotland) have announced that from 6 April 2020 all customers with an arranged overdraft will automatically be able to access a £300 interest-free overdraft for 3 months. 
Individuals ineligible for SSP
Self-employed and gig economy workers generally do not qualify for SSP. Instead they may be entitled to Contributory Employment and Support Allowance. Covid-19 sufferers and self-isolators will be able to claim the benefit from day one instead of day eight. The minimum income floor in Universal Credit (UC) has been temporarily removed to ensure that time off work because of sickness is reflected in benefits. For 12 months from 6 April 2020, the standard allowance in Universal Credit (UC) and the basic element in Working Tax Credit (WTC) for will be increased by the equivalent of about £20 a week over and above planned annual uprating (which were to £323.22 per month for UC for age 25 and over and £1,995 a year for WTC). This effectively brings UC into line with the rate of SSP. The change will apply to all new and existing UC claimants and to existing WTC claimants.
Housing benefit
Housing benefit and the housing element of UC will be increased so that the Local Housing Allowance will cover at least 30% of market rents.
Hardship Fund
The Chancellor announced in the Budget a £500 million Hardship Fund, which would be distributed to Local Authorities so that they could support the vulnerable. Government guidance for employees is here.

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