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Martin Lewis rounds up 7 ways to get help if you’re struggling financially during lockdown

Martin Lewis rounds up 7 ways to get help if you’re struggling financially during lockdown

MARTIN Lewis has rounded up seven different financial supports that are being extended during the second lockdown.The MoneySavingExpert founder used h

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MARTIN Lewis has rounded up seven different financial supports that are being extended during the second lockdown.

The MoneySavingExpert founder used his Martin Lewis Money Show to deliver his “lockdown lowdown” on all the help available.

Martin Lewis rounded up his 'lockdown lowdown' with all the ways you can get financial help

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Martin Lewis rounded up his ‘lockdown lowdown’ with all the ways you can get financial help

It comes just hours after Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed he was extending the furlough scheme to the end of March 2021.

Plus, it was confirmed that grants for the self-employed are being boosted again and will now be worth 80% of average trading profits, up to £7,500.

Opening his show, Martin said: “Today, furlough has been extended and self employed grants have been increased.

“Plus, [there are] new mortgage holidays, changes to Universal Credit and more.”

We round-up all the help covered in the show:

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Furlough extended

Martin described this as “the big announcement” of the day, after it was confirmed furlough would be extended until the end of March 2021.

Furlough was due to end on October 31 but the Chancellor had already extended it until December 2 after England was placed in a four-week national lockdown.

But it will now run for an extra three months, with workers getting 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to £2,500 a month.

Employees will need to have been on a payroll by 11.59pm on October 30, 2020 to be furloughed by their employer.

As part of the revised scheme, Martin reminded viewers that anyone made redundant after September 23 can also be rehired and put on furlough.

Employers don’t have to rehire you, but Martin says it’s worth asking if you’re struggling financially.

Workers can also be on any type of contract, meaning you could still be furloughed if you are part-time or on a contract.

Self-employed grants boosted

For the self-employed, workers will now be able to claim grants worth up to 80% of trading profits, capped at £7,500.

It’s the third grant through the self-employed income support scheme (SEISS) and it will cover pay for November 2020 to January 2021.

Previously self-employed workers were only set to receive government grants worth 40% of average monthly profits – and before that, grants worth 20% – from November 2020 through to January 2021.

Applications for payments will also be brought forward from December 14 to November 30.

But while Martin pointed out that this is good news for some, he said you still won’t be able to claim the help if you were previously excluded from SEISS.

It also doesn’t cover limited company directors – but you might be able to furlough yourself if you pay yourself an income via PAYE, Martin added.

Mortgage payments extended

Struggling homeowners are set to be given more time to ask for a mortgage payment holiday, with help available for up to six months.

The deadline for a payment holiday was due to end on October 31, but proposals are being put in place by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to extend this to 31 January 2021.

As part of the help, you’ll be able to ask for a break on your mortgage payments for up to six months – but only if you haven’t already taken out a payment holiday.

Anyone who has already taken up six months can ask for more tailored support – it’ll be down to your lender to decide what help it can provide.

Those who have taken a break previously, but not for the full six months, will be able to extend their payment holidays.

But Martin warns that you should only pause your payments if you’re really struggling as interest is still added, so you will see repayments rise after.

Martin said: “My rule with mortgage payment holidays – take one if needed, but only if needed.”

What is a payment holiday and should you apply for one?

PAYMENT holidays are when a lender agrees to pause your monthly repayments for a set amount of time.

This has to be agreed in advance, so don’t stop making your repayments until your bank has given you permission to do so.

The majority of lenders are now offering payment holidays, so get in touch with your bank to find out what help it can give you.

Most of the time, it’ll require you to fill out an online form.

Typically, payment holidays are offered in extreme circumstances and are designed as an emergency measure to help you through a difficult financial time.

If you think you need to take one, you should speak to your lender to discuss your options – but do note that the break in payments doesn’t remove any debt or financial obligations.

Most lenders will also still charge interest during this time, so be aware that these costs will keep building up.

You should also always continue to make your normal payments if you’re financially able to.

Sue Anderson, head of media at debt charity StepChange, said: “If you can continue to make your normal payments without difficulty, then you should. 

“Any temporary measures being offered by lenders don’t remove financial obligations – they are designed as an emergency measure to help you get through a period where your income may have taken a serious knock.

“However, if you need to use them then you shouldn’t hesitate to talk to your lenders. 

“While taking a payment break would usually be noted on your credit file, the credit reference agencies have confirmed that, during the current crisis, this should not have a future influence on your credit status.”

Card, loans and car finance help

Payment holidays for loans, credit cards, car finance and pay day loans are also expected to continue as part of proposals put forward by the FCA.

Like mortgage holidays, the deadline for asking for a payment break was due to finish on October 31.

But lenders are being asked to allow borrowers more time to ask for support, providing they haven’t already taken a payment break.

Borrowers will be able to ask for a payment break for up to six months.

The FCA is now working on how to implement the new changes with updates on the exact deadlines to follow.

Universal Credit help

The minimum income floor for self-employed people claiming Universal Credit was suspended in March and had been due to be reinstated from 12 November.

But now the government has said it will extend the suspension until the end of April next year.

The minimum income floor assumes that self-employed workers earn at least 35 hours a week on the minimum wage, but if people earn below that then they won’t see the benefits topped up.

While it is suspended, those earning less than minimum wage are receiving extra benefits.

Bounce Back Loans extended

Businesses which borrowed less than the maximum £50,000, or 25% of their turnover, can now top up their Bounce Back Loans.

Bounce back loans are for small companies and sole traders whose businesses have been hit by coronavirus.

These loans are 100% guaranteed by the government, and it will cover the interest on the loans for the first 12 months.

Businesses are then able to pay back the remaining balance over the next five years at a 2.5% interest rate.

Originally, businesses had until November 4 to apply for the support from their bank.

Bailiffs asked not to evict

Bailiffs won’t be able to carry out evictions against renters in England until January 11, following a similar halt during the first national lockdown.

The only exceptions are where tenants have committed anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse in social housing

Renters must also still be given six months’ notice before being asked to leave, as part of rules that will be in place until 31 March 2021.

Again, this is unless they have committed anti-social behaviour, domestic violence, or if they have rent arrears of more than six months.

Martin Lewis has also warned how there are just days left to claim a “free” £100 bank bonus before Christmas.

The money guru has reminded bosses they can rehire staff to put them on furlough to help 500,000 workers who’ve lost jobs.

Martin has also revealed four ways to check if you’re owed cash and you could be owed thousands of pounds.

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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