Coronavirus & Your Money

It's a worrying time for everyone

As well as the health problems, coronavirus is also affecting our jobs and finances.

If you suspect you are showing symptoms of coronavirus please follow the advice provided here.

To help with the money side, we’ve pulled together all the information you need on coronavirus and your finances.

The Northern Ireland Coronavirus Community Helpline, operated by Advice NI is freephone 0808 802 0020

1 - Lost your job?

If you have lost your job because of the impact coronavirus is having on businesses the first thing you need to do is to speak to a local Benefit Advisor on freephone 0800 232 1271.

They can advise you on what benefits you may be entitled to apply for.

Alternatively you can contact the Department for Communities online.

2 - Been furloughed?

If your boss has told you that you are being furloughed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme then the Government will pay 80% of your wages (up to the value of £2,500/ per month).

This will mean that you will experience a cut of 20% to your normal monthly salary meaning things will change financially for you for a period of time.

3 - Self-employed and need help?

The government has launched the self-employment income support scheme.

To be eligible, you must earn more than half your income from self-employment, have submitted a tax return for 2018/19 and have:

  • A trading profit of less than £50,000 for 2018/19, or
  • An average trading profit of less than £50,000 for the tax year 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19.

The government will pay you a grant for 80%of your monthly profits, up to £2,500 a month for three months.

You will get a lump sum payment and it is hoped these will start at the beginning of June.

Payments will be backdated to the start of March and cover a three-month period to the end of May. The government has said the scheme might be extended.

For more information please visit the Money Advice Service.

4 - Sick and having to take time off work?

If you are forced off work and are self-isolating because you or someone in your household has coronavirus or its symptoms, you will be entitled to your normal sick pay and sick leave as agreed with your employer.

If you are entitled to statutory sick pay (you must be employed and earning £118 a week or more) you will receive it from day one if you self-isolating due to coronavirus. For other illnesses and other reasons for sick leave, statutory sick pay will be payable from day four, as usual.

If you're on a zero hours contract you may be able to claim benefits.

Employees are by law entitled to take time off work to care for their children (or for anyone who is dependent on them), although your employer is not obliged to pay you for this time.

5 - Struggling with your rent?

The Department for Communities has produced some general advice and information for tenants and landlords in the private rented sector. The guidance is available online here. . An agreement is in place with all social housing landlords that any social housing tenant facing difficulties paying rent during the coronavirus pandemic will not be evicted.

If you're living in the private rented sector and are receiving Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit, and the amount you're receiving is not enough to cover your housing costs, you may be able to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment.

If you're a student and suffering financial hardship due to rental payments you can now apply for Discretionary Support. You are also encouraged to contact your landlord or letting agent to discuss flexibility in terms of payments.

6 - Got insurance to renew?

If your insurance is up for renewal in the next few months, shop around for a cheaper deal – don’t be tempted to do without it. There’s lots of comparison websites out there to help you find the best deal for you.

If you decide to take your car off the road to save money, you’ll still need to insure it unless you get a Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN) from the DVLA. That’s the case even if your car is parked up on the driveway.

7 - Got credit cards, loans or an overdraft?

Anyone in financial difficulties who has credit card debt should do everything possible to make at least the minimum monthly payment on time.

If you are struggling, you should contact your provider as an urgent priority to agree a course of action. Having an agreement in place could help protect your credit score.

If you have a personal loan and are struggling to meet your repayments, talk to your provider about a payment holiday, reduced payments or a waiver for fees for a missed payment.

If you have an overdraft which you cannot service, the same message applies – talk to your bank. You may be able to negotiate a freeze on interest rate charges or secure another favourable arrangement.

8 - Worried about your savings?

If you can afford to, start putting more away into your savings.

The situation is changing daily and it makes sense to put money away to cover unexpected eventualities if you can.

Here is a beginners guide to managing your money - no matter how deep or shallow your pockets are.

9 - Need more help?

Try the Money Advice Service’s Coronavirus Information Page.

You can also check our Quick Guides and talk to one of our advisers.

Things are changing quickly

Coronavirus is a fast-changing situation.

Always check NI Direct and NI Business Info for the latest guidance.