Coronavirus and your debts
FCA temporary measures
FCA guidance, which may have meant you could apply for a payment holiday, ended on 31 July 2021.
Step Change Covid Payment Plan (CVPP)
If you are unable to afford your full payments, a CVPP may be an option. Contact us for advice.
Bank debts and other lending
Credit cards, store cards, personal loans and catalogues
Contact your lender as soon as possible if you are struggling to make your repayments. Discuss your situation and ask what options are available. Ask you lender how this will affect your credit file.
FCA guidance says that your lender:
- should take your circumstances into account when discussing a repayment arrangement;
- should not pressurise you into repaying your debt in an unreasonably short time; and
- should recognise vulnerability and respond to the needs of vulnerable customers.
For more information, see the FCA’s Consumer Credit and coronavirus: Tailored support for clients.
The FCA has confirmed that it expects banks to contact overdraft customers who have received temporary support to determine if they still require assistance. If you need further support or if you ask your bank for help for the first time, the bank should:
- provide tailored support such as reducing or waiving interest;
- agree a programme of staged reductions in the overdraft limit; or
- support you to reduce your overdraft usage by transferring the debt.
Your bank should not reduce your credit limit or suspend or remove an overdraft facility if that reduction, suspension or removal will cause you financial hardship.
Other bank debts
If you are struggling to pay unsecured bank debts that are not covered by the new FCA measures, you can still contact your bank to explain your situation. Each bank will consider what help it may give on a case by case basis. Go to their website to see what help is available. You can also call your bank, but be aware that you may have to wait some time.
Ask you lender how any arrangement that you agree will affect your credit file.
Avoid taking out more credit unless you know that you can afford to pay it back.
If you have debts which are now unaffordable, contact us for advice. While you are waiting to get the advice that you need, you can send your creditors a letter asking them to hold action on your account due to coronavirus.
Payday loans, buy-now-pay-later, rent-to-own, pawnbrokers and motor finance
The FCA guidance, which may have meant you could apply for a payment holiday, ended on 31 July 2021.
If you are unable to make your repayments, you should contact your lender now to discuss your situation and what support is available. Under current FCA guidance, lenders are expected to:
- provide tailored support which reflects your individual circumstances;
- offer a range of shorter and longer-term options;
- not pressurise you into repaying your debt in an unreasonably short period of time;
- put in place an affordable repayment arrangement which takes into account your wider financial situation, including other debts and essential living expenses; and
- suspend, reduce, waive or cancel any interest, fees or charges to prevent your balance escalating after a repayment arrangement has been agreed.
Lenders should be clear on how any repayment arrangements will be recorded on your credit reference file.
Magistrates' court hearings
Magistrates' courts are limiting the number of cases that are being heard. If you have been told to attend a magistrates' court hearing, it is important that you attend. However, to avoid an unnecessary journey, we suggest that you contact the court that is dealing with your case to check whether your hearing is going ahead.
If you have questions about an outstanding magistrates' court fine, you should contact the National Compliance and Enforcement Service by emailing NCESBCT@justice.gov.uk or by calling 0300 123 9252.
The rules which bailiffs have to comply with have been updated due to coronavirus. While the coronavirus lockdown restrictions are in place during the ‘emergency period’, bailiffs are not allowed to take control of goods at residential premises or on highways.
Bailiffs will be allowed to visit residential premises and resume normal enforcement activity from 6am on 23 August 2020, as the ‘emergency period’ will come to an end.
In England, legislation was introduced on 17 November 2020 that stopped bailiffs taking control of goods inside residential premises until 3 December 2020.