How to get help paying your bills, rent or mortgage

HOUSEHOLDS struggling to meet the cost of bills, rent or mortgage repayments due to coronavirus should check what help is available to them.

Both the government and providers alike have announced a range of packages to help people who’ve been adversely affected by the pandemic.

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Person looking at bills
A range of different help has been announced for households, here’s what you need to know
Getty – Contributor

Help includes the government paying up to 80 per cent of both workers and self-employed people’s wages, up to a total of £2,500 per month.

Plus, both Universal Credit and housing benefit will increase by £1,000 a year from April.

But if you don’t qualify for these schemes or benefits or you need additional help on top, here’s a summary of what’s being offered.

If in doubt, speak to your provider – and hang in there for an answer as they are struggling at present to keep up with demand.

Also consider reaching out to free debt help organisations such as Citizens Advice, National Debtline, and StepChange.

Bills

Below we round-up the key initiatives from providers and regulators to help you keep your bills under control during the epidemic.

Also view our coronavirus bills round-up for more information.

Broadband

BT has given all broadband customers unlimited home internet usage, as well as well as allowing BT Sport customers to claim back the cost of one month’s subscription.

Sky is allowing customers with Sky Sports TV to pause subscriptions during the coronavirus lockdown and continue watching channels.

TalkTalk is also allowing Sky Sports customers to pause subscriptions, while Virgin Media is allowing both BT Sport and Sky Sports users to pause bills.

Credit card repayments

Credit card providers are offering help on a case by case basis, but help includes repayment holidays, waiving fees, and setting up tailored repayment plans.

Council tax

Working age people who get Council Tax Support will be able to get £150 a year off bills.

Energy bills 

Energy providers are offering help on a case by case basis, so get in touch if you’re struggling.

Examples of help being offered include payment holidays and the removal of debt charges.

Meanwhile, customers with prepayment meters who aren’t able to leave their home to top up will be able to ask their supplier to keep them connected, the government has announced.

Bill payments could also be reassessed, reduced or paused where necessary.

Mobile

EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone have zero rated data and calls to NHS Services.

EE is also giving its vulnerable and disabled customers free calls, texts and data.

TV Licensing

The BBC has announced it’s putting the scrapping of free TV Licences for the over 75s on hold due to the coronavirus.

Water

Regulator Ofwat told The Sun support available at all firms includes payment holidays and payment matching.

The latter means that if you’ve built up a lot of debt, for every £1 you repay, for example, your supplier will pay £1 too.

Mortgages

Mortgage lenders have been told by the government to offer a three-month “mortgage holiday” for those in financial difficulty due to the outbreak.

Check out our guide on what individual banks are doing and how to apply for a repayment holiday.

Home movers have also been given up to three months to extend mortgages due to coronavirus.

Rent

The government says landlords in England and Wales can’t evict tenants until September 30, 2020, and it may extend this deadline if need be.

In the meantime, if you’re struggling, private renters should speak to their landlord and social renters should speak to their housing association

They may be willing to defer payment for a while or allow you to pay a smaller amount until you can get back on your feet.

See our rent payments and coronavirus guide for more information.

In addition, housing benefit will rise by £1,000 a year from April, while local housing allowance rates will pay for at least 30 per cent of market rents in each area.

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