HOUSEHOLDS across the UK have had their finances hit hard by the coronavirus crisis.
But whether you've lost your job or been forced to accept a pay cut, there are simple ways to cut your spending to make life a bit easier.
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From getting refunds on Sky Sports and car insurance policies to how to ask your landlord for help with your rent, we round up ways to save cash during the pandemic.
Pause Sky Sports and BT Sport
BT has given all broadband customers unlimited home internet usage, as well as allowing BT Sport customers to claim back the cost of two 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 and BT Sport users to get two month's refund, while Virgin Media is allowing both BT Sport and Sky Sports users to pause bills.
To get a refund, follow the information on the BT, Sky and Virgin Media websites.
TalkTalk customers should also follow BT's instructions to get the money back.
Apply for insurance payment holidays and policy refunds
Some providers, including Aviva, Churchill and Direct Line are offering home and car insurance customers up to three month repayment holidays if you ask.
If you're not using your car because of lockdown you may also be able to claim a partial refund on your insurance – here's what you need to know.
Last week, Admiral announced it'll give a £25 refund to all of its 4.4million car insurance customers.
Meanwhile, LV= is offering cash grants and car insurance refunds of up to £50 to customers who are struggling financially due to coronavirus.
People with single trip travel insurance policies may also be able to claim a refund given they're advised not to leave the UK – here's how to get a refund.
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Get council tax discounts and payment holidays
Working age people who get Council Tax Support will be able to get £150 a year off bills. This should be automatic.
Some councils are also offering payment holidays – so get in touch with yours if you're worried about meeting payments.
Talk to your energy provider
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.
You should also check if you can save hundreds by switching – use an online comparison tool to check.
What to do if you can't pay your bills
FALLING behind on your energy bills can be extremely stressful.
If you’re struggling to pay what you owe, contact your supplier as soon as possible.
Your provider has to help you come up with a solution, and you should be able to negotiate a deal that works for you both.
One option is to agree a payment plan where you pay off your debts in affordable instalments.
You may be able to pay off your debts directly from your benefits through the Fuel Direct Scheme.
A fixed amount will automatically be taken to cover what you owe plus your usage.
To be eligible, you must be getting one of the following benefits:
- Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
- Income support
- income-related employment and support allowance
- Pension credit
- Universal Credit (but only if you’re not working)
If you cannot come to an agreement with your supplier, they may try to force you to get a prepayment meter installed.
In very rare cases, where you refuse to negotiate, your supplier might threaten you with disconnection.
Over 75s can still get a free TV Licence
The BBC has announced it's putting the scrapping of free TV Licences for the over 75s on hold due to the coronavirus.
So make sure you don't pay for one in the meantime.
Get a refund on train tickets
Passengers can get refunds for train tickets.
Anyone holding an Advance ticket will be able to get a refund free of charge, while administrative fees have been waived for season ticket refunds.
To claim a refund, you should contact your rail operator.
Transport for London (TfL) is also offering Oyster refunds online – follow the instructions on its website.
Free mobile data for NHS workers and the vulnerable
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, while NHS workers can also get unlimited data for six months.
Meanwhile, Vodafone is offering 500,000 customers and vulnerable people free unlimited internet data for 30 days.
Other discounts for NHS workers
Hard-working NHS workers can also get discounts on everything from supermarket shops to free takeaways during the pandemic.
For example, B&M is giving NHS staff 10 per cent off their shop when they show their work ID, or Blue Light Card, at the tills.
While NHS staff can get 10 per cent off their next Morrisons shop until July 12, 2020.
We've rounded-up of NHS discounts here.
Free grocery deliveries for vulnerable
Roughly 1.5million Brits have been told to self-isolate at home for 12 weeks due to coronavirus.
If you don't have anyone who can shop groceries for you, you can register for free regular deliveries of essentials.
You can do this online or by phone – you'll find contact details on the letter that you would've received from your GP.
The weekly parcels include basic supplies such as pasta, cornflakes, tea bags, loo roll and biscuits.
Free laptops and broadband for disadvantaged kids
School children from disadvantaged backgrounds are being given free laptops and tablets to help them study online during the coronavirus lockdown.
Low-income families also receive 4G routers to ensure pupils can access the internet if they don't already have mobile or broadband internet.
It could come in handy if you're struggling to afford your kids homeschooling.
Kids are eligible for the devices if they don't already have one and either have a social worker or are care leavers, or are disadvantaged children in year 10 preparing for exams next year.
You can find out more about how to get them in our guide here.
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