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Our suggestion at MoneyMagpie is ALWAYS pay the bills you can afford to pay. The accrued interest might not amount to all that much in the grand scheme of things – but you’re still paying extra for something you didn’t need to fork out for. Even if it’s a couple of hundred quid extra – that’s a few hundred quid you could’ve stuck in a stocks and shares ISA and tripled instead.
If things change and you find your work dries up or your wife is unable to work, that’s the time to speak to your mortgage provider about a holiday.
Hi, I’m a single mum and work in hospitality. Where I worked has closed and I’ve lost all sources of income. Am I allowed to ask for furloughed pay from my employer and also apply for childcare benefits? My furloughed pay wouldn’t be enough to cover all my rent and bill costs.
Do you have a permanent contract with your place of work, or was it a zero hours one? Have they furloughed other staff? If you have a permanent contract, they must pay you your salary, make you officially redundant, or officially furlough you to receive 80% pay.
You can apply for benefits if your furloughed pay is a low income. It all depends on your assets (savings) as well as your income – but it’s definitely worth applying in case you’re eligible!
I was working part time in a bar during university but now I’ve lost work, am I able to claim any benefits even though I’m still studying full time for exams next month?
Oof, this is a tough gig – full-time students don’t qualify for benefits 🙁 The only thing you could do, if you were still on the bar’s payroll on 28th Feb 2020, is ask them to re-hire you and furlough you with their other staff. That’d give you a little income (furlough income for casual hours/zero hours workers are worked out on the average 12 months’ hours or February’s wage, whichever was higher).
Hi Annie, so to clarify, if one member of the family is working normally (i.e they work for the NHS) but the other cannot, they can’t apply?
It depends what the household income and assets are. You could have one partner working but on a low income, and so you’ll be eligible. You can always apply online to see – once you’ve input your household income and assets figures, it’ll tell you if you can get Universal Credit or not, so you’ll know on-the-spot if you’re eligible.
I’m tempted to not even bother. Being self employed for less than a year means applying for what I’m entitled to may be more hassle than it’s worth. I’m still able to work you see, so I feel my efforts would be better placed there.
The SEISS scheme is a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” basis – so HMRC will simply tell you if you’re eligible, and you need to fill out a short online form if you are. It takes a lot of the hassle out of it – and as you can keep working, it’s worth applying if they say you’re eligible as you could get more than you expected!
If your partner was self-employed only in the last tax year, and so hasn’t yet submitted a return, he unfortunately won’t be eligible. At the moment, the only financial support he could claim is Universal Credit – which he can still claim if he is still working in his self-employment. Income is assessed monthly and worked out based on profit (after expenses), so if he has a slow month then Universal Credit can top up his earnings. In months where he earns above the limit, he won’t get any UC – but his claim won’t automatically close, in case the following month is low again. If he does earn above £569.22 in any assessment period, he can also apply for the Help to Save bank account. I’ve written a guide about that here – it means up to £1200 free from the Govt, over the next 4 years.
Thanks, Sam. Yes, if you have a tax return submitted at least from the 2018/2019 tax year (and ideally the two years prior, but that’s not essential if you’ve only been self-employed for under 3 tax years), you could qualify. Your average profits (not turnover) during that period must be under £50,000/year for you to qualify, too.
The SEISS grant is given to self-employed people in June and you can keep working – you just have to have lost *some* income due to COVID-19 to qualify.
Hope that helps!
This is a tricky one! Are other people at your work being furloughed or made redundant? If your colleagues are furloughed, you can be furloughed, too. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been there, as long as you were on the payroll by 28th Feb 2020.
But if it looks like redundancy is on the cards, there’s not much you can do! You can apply for Universal Credit the day you’re made redundant, or even beforehand if you’re on a low income. Otherwise, look for other work if you think your job is at risk – there are companies still hiring out there!
Or, if it’s a case of work still being essential but the business not having funds to pay everyone, could you suggest reducing hours for the short-term? It could help save the business AND stop everyone losing their jobs.
If you’re eligible for Universal Credit as a couple, you can apply for an advance payment to help cover your rent. This is like a loan, so you pay it back with small reductions off future UC payments, but can get you out of a tight spot.
Could you also talk to your landlord and ask for a deferral? They might let you pay a bit late if you can assure them the money is coming in.
I think the benefit you’re thinking of is Attendance Allowance/Carer’s Allowance. This is for someone you look after who already gets benefits (or is over 65). In your case, it sounds like the disability element of Universal Credit and an application to PIP are your best long-term bets for securing an income for your partner.
In the short term, you could also apply to your local authority for some help. They have crisis funds for vulnerable people, so it’s worth giving them a call to ask how they can help.
Any change like this has to be agreed by you and your employer in writing. If you can’t agree, they can make you redundant – so it really puts you in a corner!
As you’ve not been there very long, it’s hard to raise a case against them, too. I’d suggest that, if they’re forcing you to take the cut, you accept but start looking for another job. You’ll at least have some income then, until you get a new job.
Maybe there’s an employment lawyer here who can give more advice?
No worries, Maureen! I think lots of people are concerned about this – but actually, supermarkets themselves have said that even with restrictions on how many items of each type you can buy, Easter eggs aren’t included. So you can buy as many as you like 🙂 they got the stock in ages ago, so they need to clear it – which is why you’ll still see ‘3 for 2’ or similar offers on Easter eggs even in shops that aren’t running any other promotions!
I can’t wait for the day AFTER Easter Monday… when all the chocolate goodies are reduced!
Hi Kiera and Paul,
You need to agree the payment freeze with your credit card company first. Delaying or not paying without that agreement will hurt your credit score, and means you’ll be charged interest, too.
It’s a really confusing time at the moment, so it’s worth giving your provider a call now to see if they’ll let you freeze payments. They might also refund any interest or charges on your late payment if you ask nicely, too! There’s no guarantee, but most providers are being understanding about the confusion of it all lately.
The most important thing is that you need to get the freeze agreed in writing. They’ll write to you to tell you when it starts and ends, and if they are charging interest during that time. They’re allowed to charge ‘reasonable interest’ while your payments are frozen, so be aware of that as it will roll up into your next bill that you do pay!
This article might help, too 🙂
Depending on your household income and your savings, you could get Universal Credit. Your partner could get an extra amount based on her disability – but this can take a long time to get. She’ll need to take a work capability assessment. In normal times, it takes up to six months to get the appointment – now, it’ll take even longer. If she is then eligible for the extra allowance, it gets backdated and paid as a lump sum. She could also be eligible for Personal Independent Payment, which isn’t means-tested. (So it doesn’t matter if you or both of you are working, or have savings). Again, it’ll take a long time to get this sorted.
If she can’t work because of her health due to coronavirus – so it’s a short-term problem rather than a permanent or long-term disability – she won’t get that allowance. It’s only for people who can’t work or have a severely limited capability for work. She’ll need to apply for the Employment and Support Allowance element if it’s a short-term problem like coronavirus, which is like sick pay.
As long as you submitted a 2018/2019 tax return, HMRC will use the information to assess your eligibility for the self-employed income support scheme. You don’t HAVE to have a full three years’ tax returns for them to look at, they’re just using three years to be able to average out profit for a more accurate grant figure (as self-employed income can vary wildly from year to year).
If your tax return was very low (because you worked a part tax year when you started out), this could mean you’re not likely to get much support from the SEISS grant. If you’re struggling with your income, register for Universal Credit. You can still work as a self-employed person if you’re receiving UC – you’ll report your monthly income and expenses, and any month you don’t earn enough you’ll receive a UC payment. The months where you earn more, you won’t get a UC payment, or it’ll be tapered. This taper is based on 63p less UC for every £1 you earn over the minimum allowance. (The allowance is different for each person, based on your circumstances).
Hope that helps!
I should clarify that this constitutes a change of contract – your employer and you (and other employees) must agree with reasonable time for this change to take place. Check your existing contract – if there is a clause stating they can reduce your hours, they can reduce your hours but not cut your hourly pay equivalent (so they can’t ask you for 50% pay at 100% hours – but they can offer 50% pay for 50% hours).
If you and your employer are struggling to reach a reasonable agreement, have a chat with ACAS – they’ll have experts who can help advise on your specific situation. Good luck!