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Coronavirus advice and help (Scotland)

This fact sheet covers ScotlandYou will need different advice if you live in England & Wales.

Many businesses have been affected by the outbreak of coronavirus and lots of people are having to manage on a reduced income. The Government, banks and other organisations may offer help if you have been affected by coronavirus.

This fact sheet explains what help is available if you are in business. It also has information about the help that is available if you are finding it difficult to pay your household bills or debts because of the outbreak.

If you need more information about the symptoms of coronavirus or advice about avoiding infection, go to the NHS website.

Help for sole traders and businesses

Government guidance

The Government has released guidance for employers and businesses on how you should deal with the impact of coronavirus. The guides cover several topics, such as how to help prevent the spread of the virus and what to do if someone in your work force has coronavirus.

Help for the self-employed and businesses

The Government has announced the following help for self-employed people and businesses.

HMRC Coronavirus Helpline

You can call the HMRC Coronavirus Helpline on 0800 024 1222 if you cannot pay your tax bill on time because of coronavirus. You can also continue to use HMRC’s Time to Pay service.

Deferral of some payments to HMRC

Some businesses have been given longer to make certain payments to HMRC. This includes the following.

Extra time to get a payment arrangement in place and prevent late filing penalties

HMRC also said that they will not charge the 5% late payment penalty that is usually added on 3 March 2021 if you:

  • had paid your tax by 1 April 2021; or
  • had set up a payment plan with them by 1 April 2021.

For more information, see GOV.UK.

Benefit entitlement and Time to Pay arrangements with HMRC

If you need to claim a benefit that requires you to have paid Class 2 National Insurance contributions for the 2019/20 tax year, it is possible that a Time to Pay arrangement with HMRC could delay your benefit claim. This is because HMRC may put your payments toward the July 2020 payment on account before paying your National Insurance contributions. Benefits this could affect include Maternity Allowance and New Style Employment and Support Allowance.

If you are affected by this, you can ask HMRC to put your payments toward your National Insurance contributions first. For more information, see the guidance on GOV.UK.

Extra time for filing your 2020 to 2021 self assessment tax return

File your tax return on time if you can. However, HMRC has said that you will not be charged a penalty for filing your 2020 to 2021 self assessment tax return late if it is filed online by 28 February 2022.

You still need to pay your self assessment tax bill by 31 January 2022 and interest will be charged from 1 February 2022 on any outstanding amounts.

Extra time for filing your 2019 to 2020 self assessment tax return

HMRC has said that you should not be charged a penalty for filing your 2019 to 2020 self assessment tax return late if it was filed online by 28 February 2021.

You still need to have paid your self assessment tax bill by 31 January 2021 and interest is charged from 1 February 2021 on any outstanding amounts. You can pay online, through your bank or by post before you file.

Late filing daily penalties will not apply for 2018 to 2019 self assessment returns

HMRC has said that daily penalties will not be charged for the late filing of 2018 to 2019 self assessment tax returns. This is because of the difficult circumstances many taxpayers faced due to coronavirus during the time that daily penalties accrued.

Other penalties will still apply and HMRC will expect you to submit any outstanding returns as soon as possible.

Reducing Payments on Account

You can ask HMRC to reduce your Payments on Account if you think that your 2020 to 2021 tax bill is going to be lower than your 2019 to 2020 bill (for example, because of a loss of earnings caused by the pandemic).

If you are considering this, be aware that HMRC will charge you interest if it is found that a reduced on account payment is less than it should have been.

For more information, see GOV.UK.

Extra time to appeal against some HMRC decisions

If you have been affected by coronavirus, HMRC has given an extra three months for you to appeal a tax or penalty decision that was dated between 1 February 2020 and 30 September 2021.

Standard time limits will apply if you want to appeal a decision that is dated from 1 October 2021 onwards. However, HMRC has said that it is aware that some customers are still feeling the impact of coronavirus, and this may still be a reasonable excuse for not meeting their tax obligations on time in some cases.

If you plan to appeal, send your appeal as soon as you can and explain if the delay was caused by coronavirus.

VAT rate change for some businesses

The rate of VAT is being temporarily cut on most tourism and hospitality-related activities and on admission charges for some attractions. The rate is reduced from 20%:

  • to 5% from 15 July 2020 until 30 September 2021; and
  • to 12.5% from 1 October 2021 until 31 March 2022.

For more information, see GOV.UK.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

The SEISS has closed.

If you claimed a grant through the SEISS, HMRC will write to you with information:

  • on how to report SEISS grants correctly on your tax return; and
  • what to do if anything has changed since you claimed a SEISS grant.

Recovery Loan Scheme

The scheme is open until 30 June 2022.

It allows you to apply for government-backed finance to use for your business needs. The finance available includes:

  • loans and overdrafts of between £25,001 and £10 million per business; and
  • invoice finance and asset finance of between £1,000 and £10 million per business.

A list of the creditors that you can apply to for this scheme is available on the British Business Bank's website.

If you meet the eligibility conditions, you can apply to the Recovery Loan Scheme even if you have already had help from other coronavirus loan schemes.

For more information, see GOV.UK.

The Bounce Back Loan scheme

This scheme closed to new applications and top-up applications on 31 March 2021.

If you have a Bounce Back Loan, no repayments are due for the first 12 months of the loan. For more information about this scheme, see GOV.UK.

Options when your Bounce Back Loan repayments become due

Your lender should write to you at least three months before your Bounce Back Loan repayments are due to start. The letter should explain that that you can ask your lender for the following options.

  • To extend the length of the loan from six years to ten years.
  • To make interest-only payments for six months. You can use this option up to three times during the term of the loan.
  • To pause repayments entirely for up to six months. You can only use this option once during the term of the loan.

You can ask for the above even if you haven’t missed a payment. However, if you use one or more of these options, you will pay more interest overall. Also, the length of your loan will increase in line with any repayment holidays you take.

The FCA has also issued guidance on the collection of Bounce Back Loan repayments

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

This scheme closed to new applications on 31 March 2021.

It allowed banks to offer government-backed loans to support small and medium sized businesses. Government also covered the first 12 months of interest payments under the scheme.

If you took out a loan under this scheme:

  • your lender should not have asked you to secure the loan against your home; and
  • for loans under £250,000, should not have asked for a personal guarantee.

For more information, see the British Business Bank website.

Flexible Workforce Development Fund

This fund can provide small and medium businesses with up to £5,000 worth of training. This can be used to provide college or Open University in Scotland training to reskill or upskill employees. For more information, see GOV.SCOT.

Business support finder

GOV.UK has an online business support finder. It asks you several multiple choice questions. It uses your answers to produce a list of the types of coronavirus support that may be available to you and your business.

Business rent

If you are a director of a limited company and your company is being threatened with a winding up petition, see the Temporary coronavirus measures to protect your company from statutory demands and winding-up notices section of our Limited companies fact sheet.

Business rates

For 2022 to 2023

Eligible retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will get a 50% reduction in their business rates from 1 April 2022 to 30 June 2022 (subject to a maximum reduction of £27,500).

Contact your local authority to apply for the reduction.

For 2021 to 2022

The following businesses will not pay rates during 2021 - 2022.

  • Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.
  • Some Scottish airports and handling service providers.

The charitable rates relief for mainstream independent schools will also continue until 1 April 2022.

Contact your local authority to apply for the above reliefs.

For more information on the types of business rates relief available in Scotland, see mygov.scot.

For 2020 to 2021

  • Business rates were scrapped for 12 months from 1 April 2020 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.
  • Business rates were also scrapped for 12 months from 1 April 2020 for Scottish airports and businesses that provide handling services for scheduled passenger flights at Scottish airports.
  • All business rates were given rates relief of 1.6%.

Grants

Creative Scotland Funding

Creative Scotland supports a wide range of activity in the arts, screen and creative industries. It has several funds available to individuals, groups and organisations, including the Hardship Fund for Creative Freelancers. Go to www.creativescotland.com and see the funding section of the website for more information.

Business Gateway

The Business Gateway website is run by local authorities. It contains useful information for businesses in Scotland. It also includes details and links to government grants and support, some of which are being managed through other organisations. Go to www.bgateway.com or call 0300 013 4753.

FindBusinessSupport.gov.scot

This service was set up to help Scottish businesses find public sector support. It has a coronavirus advice section, which contains links to general and sector specific funding. For more information, go to findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/coronavirus-advice.

HMRC Guidance

HMRC has produced guidance to help you find out if you need to include a coronavirus grant or support payment on your tax return. For more information, see GOV.UK.

Business interruption insurance

The Chancellor confirmed in a statement on 17 March 2020 that advice given by Government to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres is sufficient for you to claim on your insurance if you have appropriate business interruption cover for pandemics in place. Although advice did change and the Government said that many of these businesses had to close, the Chancellor's earlier statement may affect the date from which your insurer pays you.

The Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA’s) test case

As there was widespread uncertainty about what was covered by business interruption insurance policies, the FCA took a test case to court. Based on what the court decided, the FCA has created a policy checker. You can use the FCA’s policy checker to find out if your insurance policy may cover business interruption losses caused by coronavirus and what you can do next.

Companies House accounts

The Government has introduced temporary measures to extend the time that most companies have to file their accounts. The extension is given automatically to:

  • public companies with a filing deadline that falls between 25 March 2020 and 6 April 2021; and
  • private companies with a filing deadline that falls between 26 June 2020 and 6 April 2021.

For further information, see the guidance Temporary changes to Companies House filing requirements. You can check what the deadline is for filing your company’s accounts on the Companies House website.

Directors’ duties

The Government introduced measures that temporarily suspended liability for wrongful trading. For many limited companies, this means that a director is not responsible for any worsening of the financial position of the company or its creditors that occurred between the following periods.

  • 1 March 2020 to 30 September 2020.
  • 26 November 2020 to 30 June 2021.

Temporary protections for limited companies from statutory demands and winding-up notices

The Government has introduced some temporary measures. In certain circumstances, your company may have extra protection from creditors using a statutory demand or other grounds to apply for the business to be wound up. More information is available in our Limited companies fact sheet.

Coronavirus and redundancy

Redundancy is when you lose a job because your employer needs to reduce their workforce. The information on this page covers your rights if you have been made redundant from a job where you were an employee on a PAYE contract. The information on this page does not apply to any contracts or jobs you lose during self-employment.

If you are a director of a limited company that has entered liquidation, you may be able to claim statutory redundancy payments if you were also an employee of the company. See the section Insolvent employers.

Help if you’re being made redundant

Your employer may be able to use one of the government’s support schemes to help you stay in employment.

If you have been made redundant, you should check which benefits you are entitled to claim.

See our Coronavirus and your income section for more information.

Is your redundancy fair?

You can only be made redundant if your job is no longer needed. You have the same rights during the coronavirus pandemic as usual.

You should have a consultation with your employer if you’re being made redundant. Your employer should explain what is happening and you should get the chance to ask any questions. If 20 employees or more are being made redundant, your employer can carry out this consultation through a representative, such as a union representative. More information about the consultation can be found on the MoneyHelper website.

Your employer should be fair when deciding who they make redundant. They could, for example, ask for volunteers or check disciplinary records. There are some things that shouldn’t play any part in you being made redundant, such as your age and gender. For a fuller list, see GOV.UK website.

If you don’t think that your employer has been fair, contact ACAS for impartial advice on your workplace rights.

You might be offered ‘suitable alternative employment’ within your organisation or an associated company. You have the right to a four-week trial period in the alternative job. You do not have to take the job if you think it’s unsuitable, however you may lose your right to redundancy pay if you unreasonably turn down an offer of alternative employment. See the ACAS website for more information on alternative job offers from your employer. Your redundancy could be an unfair dismissal if your employer has suitable alternative employment and they do not offer it to you.

Redundancy pay

If you’ve been with your current employer for two years or more you would normally get statutory redundancy pay. You should receive:

  • half a week's pay for each year of employment up to age of 22;
  • one week's pay for each year between the ages of 22 and 40; and
  • one and a half week's pay for each year over the age of 41.

This is up to a maximum 20 years of work.

If your recent wage has been lower because you had been ‘furloughed’ your redundancy pay should be based on your pre-furlough salary.

The maximum statutory redundancy pay you can get is £16,140. If you were made redundant before 6 April 2020, these amounts will be lower.

You can calculate your statutory redundancy pay using the GOV.UK tool.

If you don’t think you’re employer has paid the correct amount of redundancy pay, contact ACAS for more help.

Redundancy notice

If you are made redundant your job should not end straight away, you should get a paid notice period. Although your employer can give more, the statutory redundancy notice periods are:

  • at least one week’s notice if employed between one month and 2 years;
  • one week’s notice for each year if employed between 2 and 12 years; or
  • 12 weeks’ notice if employed for 12 years or more.

Unless you are off work, you should receive your normal pay whilst working your notice period. ACAS has more detailed information about notice periods and the pay you should receive.

Your employer can make a ‘payment in lieu of notice’. This is where you’ll get all your notice paid at once and your job ends straight away. Or your employer can put you on garden leave. This means you’ll be paid as usual, but you don’t have to come to work.

Check your contract and speak to your employer if you’re unsure what notice period you should receive.

Finding a new job

You can contact the Rapid Response Service if you suspect you’re going to be made redundant or up to 13 weeks after you’ve been made redundant. They can, amongst other things, help with writing CV’s, find the right training and travel costs.

You can contact Rapid Response Service by email at rrs.enquiries@dwp.gov.uk.

Insolvent employers

Your employer may be insolvent. This means they aren’t able to pay their debts. If your employer is insolvent and makes you redundant, they might be unable to pay you the money you are entitled to.

You may be able to apply for redundancy pay and other related payments from the Government, through the Redundancy Payments Service (RPS).

Find out more about your rights if your employer is insolvent on the GOV.UK website. There is also guidance available if you were furloughed and then made redundant because your employer is insolvent.

Limited company directors

If you are a director of a company that has gone into liquidation, you may be entitled to statutory redundancy payments through the RPS if:

  • you worked at least 16 hours a week;
  • you were an employee for at least 2 years; and
  • a contract of employment was in place. If there was no written contract, you will need to show the liquidator that there was a verbal or implied contract. For example, this could be by showing that you were paid through PAYE and that your worked similar hours to other employees.

You should make your claim to the RPS within six months of the date of liquidation.

If your income is affected

If you are unwell or self-isolating, you are not eligible to receive Statutory Sick Pay unless you are employed. Instead, you may be able to claim Universal Credit and/or New Style Employment and Support Allowance.

If you have been asked to self-isolate by Test and Protect or the Incident Management Team, you may also be entitled to a Self-isolation Support Grant.

Universal Credit

Making a claim for Universal Credit may mean that you lose other benefits you currently get, such as tax credits. 

Once you make a Universal Credit claim, your tax credit claim will stop and you cannot go back to tax credits. Before you apply for Universal Credit, try to get advice from a benefits adviser to check if you will be better off claiming Universal Credit. You can look for a local benefits adviser on the Turn2us website.

  • Universal Credit is based on your household situation, so your or your partner’s income and savings may affect how much you get.
  • If you are making a new claim for Universal Credit, you do not need to call anyone. Claims can be made online. If any information needs checking, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will call you back.
  • There is a five week wait to receive your first Universal Credit payment. You can get a month’s advance payment, which you then pay back.
  • The Government has temporarily changed the way they work out Universal Credit for self-employed people on low incomes. Call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644 for more information.

New Style Employment and Support Allowance

  • Eligibility for New Style Employment and Support Allowance will depend on whether you have paid enough National Insurance contributions during the last two to three years.
  • Income and savings that you or your partner have will not affect your claim. 
  • New Style Employment and Support Allowance can now be claimed from day one of illness, rather than the usual day eight.
  • You can now claim New Style Employment and Support Allowance online.  

If you are employed, you may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay more quickly than usual.

Turn2us has more information about benefits and how to claim them. They also have a benefits calculator to help you find out what you may be able to claim.

Self-isolation Support Grant

If you work (including self-employed work), are on a low income and get a positive PCR test result for either yourself or someone you care for, you may receive a payment of:

  • £225 if you received the PCR result after 1 May 2022: or
  • £500 if you received the PCR result on or before 30 April 2022.

More information and details on how to claim can be found on the mygov.scot website.

Already claiming benefits?

If you are claiming Universal Credit or Jobseeker's Allowance, you may need to meet certain requirements to continue to receive the benefit. This could be job searching, periods of time at work or attending regular meetings or assessments. Due to coronavirus, these requirements were temporarily suspended, but they have now restarted. Call the Jobcentre Plus if you're worried about going to an appointment in person due to coronavirus.

If coronavirus means you are unable to carry out a task, you should phone the office paying the benefit to explain why. If you are claiming Universal Credit, inform your work coach and explain what has happened in your online journal.

Face-to-face assessments for sickness and disability benefits had been suspended. However, they have now restarted for some people. You should only be asked to attend a face-to face assessment if you can’t be assessed another way. This will apply if you receive Personal Independence Payments (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Industrial Injuries Disability Benefit and possibly Universal Credit.

If you have concerns about attending an assessment, contact your assessment provider using the contact details on your appointment letter. You can find more details on GOV.UK.

The Government has also temporarily changed the way they work out Universal Credit for self-employed people on low incomes. You can contact the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644 for more information.

If you are already getting Universal Credit

Make sure you explain in your online journal why you haven’t been able to attend as expected.

If coronavirus means that you are unable to carry out a task, you should phone the office paying the benefit to explain why. If you are claiming Universal credit, inform your work coach and explain what has happened in your online journal.

More information can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Help towards your rent - changes for private tenants

If you rent privately, the maximum amount of help that you can get towards your rent through Housing Benefit or Universal Credit depends on several factors, such as the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate for the area you live in and the type of accommodation that you need. LHA rates have been increased across the UK. To find the rate that applies to your area, go to the Directgov website.

To find out more about how these changes may help you, visit Turn2us. They have a benefit calculator to help you find out if and how much you may be able to claim.

Help if you rent your home

The Housing and Property Chamber has rescheduled hearings that had previously been postponed due to coronavirus. If your case had been postponed, you will be notified when you should attend the Tribunal.

The temporary law which extended the notice period a landlord had to give to six months has now ended. However, if you received an eviction notice between 7 April 2020 and 29 March 2022 then the landlord has to stick to the six month notice period.

If a notice is served after 30 March 2022, the notice period will revert back to before the temporary law change. This is usually 28 days for rent arrears. More information can be found at Shelter Scotland.

All mandatory grounds for eviction have become discretionary. This means that the tribunal can decide not to evict you if they wish. If you are contacted by a sheriff officer who is threatening eviction, contact Shelter Scotland for help.

If you are a private tenant, new rules also came into force on 1 October 2020 which cover the process a landlord should follow if they are considering repossession action against you.

  • Your landlord should provide you with clear information about the terms of the tenancy, the amount of arrears and your rights in relation to the repossession proceedings.
  • Your landlord should try to agree a reasonable plan to with you. They should consider affordability, taking into account your personal and financial circumstances.
  • You should be allowed time to consider and seek advice on any proposed payment plan.
  • A full list of the pre-action requirements that your landlord now needs to follow can be found on the GOV.SCOT website.

To help with negotiations, SafeDeposits Scotland has a free resolution service. Either you or your landlord can approach them and their aim is to try to stop tenants being evicted.

The Scottish Government has produced a private rented sector (PRS) tenant resource which has detailed information on dealing with rent arrears during the coronavirus pandemic.

If your landlord is unhelpful and you need more support, contact Shelter Scotland on 0808 800 4444.

The Tenant Hardship Loan Fund

The Scottish Government fund offers interest-free loans to private and social sector tenants who are struggling to pay their rent because of the impact of coronavirus.

The fund can be used to cover up to a maximum of nine months of your rent costs. This can include:

  • rent arrears that have built up since 1 January 2020; and
  • up to three months future rent payments.

For more information and a link to the online application form, see GOV.SCOT.

Extra help from your council if you are at risk of eviction

Councils have been given extra funding to provide grants to tenants who have:

  • fallen behind on their rent because of the pandemic; and
  • are at risk of eviction.

The aim is to help you to reduce or pay off your rent arrears and to prevent homelessness. Grants may be available if you rent privately or through a social landlord, such as a local authority or housing association.

If you are at risk of eviction, contact your council directly to see if they are still accepting grant applications and for information about how to apply for this help.

Any grant payment is separate to the Tenant Hardship Loan Fund and Discretionary Housing Payments.

Discretionary Housing Payment

If you claim Housing Benefit or Universal Credit with help towards housing costs, you may be able to get a Discretionary Housing Payment. A Discretionary Housing Payment can give you extra money to pay towards your rent. To apply, contact your local council. Check whether you can claim online.

Help with your mortgage

The Government has introduced temporary rules. This means that while your mortgage lender can take you to court, no eviction action should be taken if you live in a Tier 3 or Tier 4 area until 30 September 2021.

FCA guidance

The FCA guidance, which may have meant you could apply for a payment holiday, ended on 31 July 2021.

If you are finding it difficult to afford your mortgage payments, contact your lender as soon as possible to discuss your situation. Ask your lender what forbearance options are available and how they will affect your credit file. Your lender should provide support that is tailored to your circumstances. For example, this may include an agreement:

  • to make reduced payments or no payments for a set period of time; or
  • to change the term of your mortgage.

If you previously had a payment holiday which has ended and you can afford to make your mortgage payments again, do so. You will also need to contact your lender to discuss how you are going to catch up with the missed payments.

The FCA has also said that while lenders can continue with repossession action, a firm should not enforce repossession of a property before 1 April 2021. This does not mean that your lender will take court action.

If you cannot afford to pay your mortgage or already have arrears, contact your lender as soon as possible to discuss your situation. If you are at risk of repossession and your lender is unhelpful, contact Shelter Scotland on 0808 800 4444. Information is also available on their website.

Coronavirus and your bills

Help with your council tax

If you are struggling to pay your council tax, contact your council to check that you are getting any discounts, reductions or exemptions that you are entitled to.

Help from your home energy provider

Energy providers have agreed that the disconnection of credit meters will be completely suspended. Also, if you are self-isolating and unable to top up your pre-payment meter, you can:

  • nominate a third party for credit top ups;
  • have a discretionary fund added to your credit; or
  • have a pre-loaded top up card sent so that your supply is not interrupted.

If you are struggling to manage repayments to your energy provider contact them to see what help they can provide.  New guidance means that your debt repayments and bill payments could be reassessed, reduced or paused where necessary.

More information can be found on the Ofgem website.

Energy providers should not disconnect your gas or electric supply during the winter months (October-March) if you or someone in your property is vulnerable. Find out more in our Gas and electricity arrears fact sheet.

If you are a vulnerable person, you could ask your energy provider to place you on the Priority Services Register. The Priority Services Register can help to make sure that you receive all the appropriate support you need. You can find out who may be classed as vulnerable and what help is available by visiting Ofgem.

Help from your household water supplier

In Scotland, you usually pay for your water through your council tax bill. However, if you have a water meter then you’ll pay Scottish Water. If you have a water meter and are struggling to pay your bill, contact Scottish Water to see how they can help.

Help from your mobile or broadband provider

Most of the main broadband and mobile companies have introduced a range of measures to try and help. These include:

  • allowing customers some time to get help, support and advice on how to manage their debts without the threat of enforcement action or disconnection during the same period;
  • considering offering payment holidays or deferrals; freezing additional fees and charges where customers are experiencing problem debt, particularly while they are seeking debt help and advice; and
  • agreeing a realistic and reasonable payment plan which is flexible and repayable over a period of time – this should be based on the customer’s ability to pay.

A full list of the help that should be provided can be found on the Ofcom website.

Help with your TV licence

TV Licensing have taken steps to help if you are struggling to pay your TV licence.

  • If you are unable to keep up with payments, call them on 0300 555 0300 to see how they can help.
  • TV Licensing have temporarily stopped passing customers who have not kept up their payments to a debt collection agency.
  • If you are in financial hardship and urgently need to stop your Direct Debit payments, call them on 0300 790 6068. If you are unable to get through, cancel the Direct Debit with your bank. You will need to make up any payments that you miss later on.

TV Licensing has fewer staff answering calls at the moment so it will be more difficult to speak to someone. If you need to make a payment, there are other ways you can try and pay.

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.

Overdrafts

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.

Sheriff court fines and hearings

As the courts have temporarily suspended their counter facilities for the payment of fines, you may need to choose another way of paying. For most fines you can use the court online payment system or automated phone system. However, for penalties that need your driving licence to be endorsed, you will need to send your payment and driving licence by post. For more information, see the Scottish Courts and Tribunals website.

If you have missed payments on a fine and can now afford to pay the arrears, do so. If you have financial difficulties and are struggling to pay, contact a Fines Enforcement Officer straightaway. Call 0300 790 0014 and explain your situation.

If you have been told to attend a 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.

Coronavirus: extra support

Buy-to-let landlords

The Scottish Government has said that:

The Government has also introduced temporary laws that extend the notice period that you must give a tenant if you are ending a tenancy. For more information, see our Help if you rent your home section.

The FCA guidance and advice given in our Help with your mortgage section also applies to most buy-to-let mortgages. See the section for details.

Highest risk group

The government has issued extra advice for those at the highest risk from Covid-19. The mygov.scot website has more information about help you may be able to receive if you are at the highest risk from Covid-19.

Free school meals/vouchers

If your child is eligible for free school meals and has to be at home for reasons relating to coronavirus, the school should make sure that they provide you with food parcels. During the coronavirus pandemic the free school meals scheme may run during the school holidays as well as term time.

Speak to your child’s school to check that this is being done for you. More detail can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Food banks

If you are struggling to buy food, many food banks are staying open to support people during the coronavirus crisis. However, the numbers of sessions are being reduced and you will be given or sent a pre-packed food parcel. You can find your local food bank through The Trussell Trust.

Charitable grants

Many charities offer non-repayable grants to people who are struggling financially. To see if there are any grants which may be able to help you, visit the Turn2us website.

Council assistance support schemes

You can apply for a Crisis Grant through your local council. The grant can cover the cost of an emergency, such as an unexpected crisis or a gap in your normal income.