Help is available for hard workers whose income has been hit by bad luck due to coronavirus – The Sun

HARDWORKING families are struggling to make ends meet simply because of bad luck.

The Government has put in place help for households whose inc­ome has crashed, including the furlough salary-support scheme, plus help for the self-employed.

But some workers have slipped through the net due to being in the wrong job at the wrong time.

Today we look at who has missed out – and what assistance EVERYONE can apply for.

Recently self-employed

IF you became self-employed in the past year, you do NOT qualify for the Government’s support package.

You must have filed a tax return for 2018-19.

The rules leave Robert Potter, 36, a builder from Liskeard in Cornwall, with no income or support.

He became self-employed in November.

Robert and his partner Steph, 38 – herself off work long-term with depression and anxiety – must now apply for Universal Credit.

The dad of two said: “I’ve always worked and paid my tax.

“I became self-employed last year.

“The Government has done well in supporting lots of people but I have slipped through the net due to bad timing.”

Those who make more than £50,000 in profits a year do not qualify for government assistance either.

Job switchers

TENS of thousands of people are not eligible for the Government’s furlough scheme, having just changed jobs.

Last week the Treasury tried to help 200,000 workers who didn’t qualify for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, by pushing back the date they should have been on the payroll from February 28 to March 19.

But Martin Lewis, of website moneysaving expert.com, said some will still miss out as firms need to have registered their new employee’s details with HMRC by that date.

Dad-of-two Saj Devshi, 35, of Leicester, has been left with no income after his sales job was put on hold just a week after he started on March 16.

The firm had not registered him with HMRC by March 19.

He said: “I’ve been working and paying my taxes since the age of 17.”

Business owners

WHILE sole traders can claim 80 per cent of their monthly profits up to a ceiling of £2,500 a month, limited company directors who pay themselves dividends cannot claim support.

Thousands of tradesmen are hit.

They can furlough any money they pay themselves through the PAYE system but most take income in dividends, as it is more tax-efficient.

Dog trainer Pamela Dempsey, 44, owns limited company Impackt Behaviour with her partner David Holmes, 43.

She said the rule had left her struggling to pay her bills.

The Lincolnshire couple were advised to pay themselves in dividends rather than via PAYE when they set up their company.

Pamela, a mum of two, said: “Hardworking and dedicated business owners have been thrown to the wolves.”

Loan hunters

THE Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offers self-employed people access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance – up to £5million for a maximum of six years.

But many businesses are struggling to access the cash, provided by high-street banks.

Applicants have reported long waits on the phone, technical issues and impossible questions about their company’s financial forecasts.

Figures revealed this week show only 16,624 loan applications have been approved out of 36,000, with a total £2.8billion lent.

Former soldier Grant King, 34, from Fulham, West London, has been trying to speak to someone at his bank, Barclays, for a month to apply for a loan for his gym, Military Fitness London.

He says the process has been hopeless and, in the meantime, he faces permanent closure.

Grant said: “We finally got through to Barclays this week and they said it would take three to five weeks just to start the process.

“That doesn’t help, because we will have left the property by then.

“As a new and successful business, I feel like we’re not being given a chance.”

Freeze your bills while off work

STRUGGLING to pay the bills? You’re not alone.

One in three households reported a drop in income this month, with job security plummeting.

But help is at hand with our guide to the support on offer.

BENEFITS: If your income has fallen, you may be entitled to Universal Credit.

To find out, type in your details on the online Turn2Us benefits calculator.

MORTGAGE: Apply to your provider for a three-month repayments holiday.

You’ll still be charged interest during this time but it will be factored into future repayments.

RENTING: Ask your landlord if they can offer reduced or suspended payments until you find work.

If you can’t negotiate, apply for help with housing costs through Universal Credit.

CREDIT CARDS OR LOANS: Apply for a three-month payment freeze on debts.

If you have a 0-per-cent credit- card deal you won’t lose the interest-free period if you miss a payment, which is what would normally happen.

OVERDRAFT: Apply for a zero-interest overdraft of up to £500 for three months.

Some banks such as Halifax, Lloyds and HSBC are doing this automatically.

Barclays has introduced a temporary interest-free buffer of £750 on pre-agreed overdrafts from May.

CAR FINANCE: Apply for a three-month freeze on payments.

New rules expected imminently by the Financial Conduct Authority will say lenders must provide this.

HIGH-COST LOANS: Apply for a three-month freeze on rent-to-own, buy-now-pay-later or pawnbroking agreements.

Payday loan customers can get a shorter one-month interest-free payment freeze.

These rules are expected to come in this week.

CAR INSURANCE: If you’re not driving much, review your levels of cover, such as mileage, although there may be an amendment fee.

Note you can’t cancel your insurance unless you take your car off the road.

HOME INSURANCE: A payment holiday can be arranged if you pay monthly and need to pause payments.

ENERGY AND BROADBAND: Speak to your supplier as soon as you can and ask to set up a payment plan to spread the cost of your bills.

If you have a pre-payment energy meter, your supplier will try to find ways to keep your supply connected if you cannot top up your meter because of coronavirus.

GENERAL TIPS: You only qualify for the above if you are struggling due to Covid-19.

Don’t just cancel any payments, you must ask and make an agreement with the provider first.

Remember, no one is giving you free money.

You’ll still need to pay back the same amount and may incur more interest, so only do it if you need to.

None of these support measures should affect your credit file.

Beat the scammers

By Ashley Hart, Head of Fraud at TSB

MANY of us have had something cancelled due to coronavirus – a holiday, wedding or even just a night out.

Fraudsters know that, so be on the lookout for virus-related insurance scams.

If a company contacts you out of the blue offering to get a refund on your axed event, be suspicious – because it is almost definitely a scam.

Never give your details, and certainly do not pay them an “up front” fee.

Some scammers will try to convince you they can get you compensation even if you haven’t lost any cash, sometimes calling it an “inconvenience payment”.

To get it, you have to fill in a form and pay them a £50 admin fee. In reality, it’s a scam, and you will never hear from them again.

If you have lost money on an event or occasion, contact your insurance provider directly to see if they can help.

A particularly heartless scam at the moment is fake charity fraud. You will receive a call, email or text, apparently from a charity, asking for a donation to help support those most in need at this difficult time.

Some ask for a general donation, while others want you to buy something specific such as a food parcel for people isolating at home.

Charities are also facing difficulty and need our support, so it is important not to be deterred from supporting a legitimate fundraiser.

But sadly, mixed in with genuine appeals, are “charities” that are just fronts for criminals to line their pockets.

– If you want to make a donation but do not have a preferred charity, consider the Disasters Emergency Committee, which has a list of trusted charities. Or check if a charity is genuine by looking on the Charity Commission’s website.

Cheque it

THERE has been an explosion in the number of cheques deposited digitally since lockdown.

HSBC UK said customers deposit an average of 6,000 cheques every day, typically from home.

This is up by around 30 per cent on pre-lockdown numbers.

Cheque-imaging technology allows banks and building societies to exchange images of cheques rather than moving paper cheques around the country.

It also enables money to be credited more quickly.

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