Managing Your Bills and Finances During Covid-19

There are things you can do if you’re struggling to pay your bills because of the coronavirus. It’s important that you don’t just ignore your bills, instead speak to the organisation you owe money to. They might be able to help by letting you pay smaller amounts or by taking a break.

It’s also worth checking with your bank or building society as they might be able to help you with your debts or let you delay loan or credit card repayments. Some bills can cause you more problems if you don’t pay them. It’s worth checking what bills you should pay first.

Here’s our friendly advice if you’re struggling:

Check if something is a scam

Make sure you only use trusted sources of information and help about coronavirus and your debts. Don’t give money or personal details to anyone you don’t know or trust – for example, if someone knocks on your door and offers to help.

If you’ve got less money because of coronavirus

If your finances have been affected by the pandemic, you might be able to claim benefits or get more money on your current benefits if:

  • You have coronavirus, or you’re following guidance to stay at home
  • You’ve lost your job or
  • You’re self-employed and can’t get work
  • You can’t work because your workplace has closed
  • You can contact your local council to see if they can give you any extra help from a hardship fund.

Council tax reduction

If you already get a council tax reduction and are working age, your local council should give you an extra £150 off your bill for 2020-2021. You don’t need to do anything – your local council will send you a new bill.

If your council tax bill is already less than £150, you won’t have to pay anything for the coming tax year, 2020-2021

If you don’t already get a council tax reduction

You might qualify for a reduction if your income has dropped or if you started claiming benefits recently.

You should check your local council’s rules to see if you qualify for a council tax reduction. If you don’t think you qualify, it’s still worth asking your local council if you can get a council tax reduction.

You can find your local council on GOV.UK.

If you can’t pay your rent

You should explain the situation to your landlord straight away. They might give you more time to pay, or agree to reduce your rent.

Remember: You still need to pay your rent. If you’ve fallen behind with your rent you should start dealing with rent arrears. You can also check if you can get extra financial help.

If your landlord doesn’t offer to be flexible with your rent payments, it’s a good idea to pay as much as you can afford and keep a record of what you discussed. You should also contact your nearest Citizens Advice. An adviser can help you explain things to your landlord. You may also be entitled to benefits to help with housing costs if your income has reduced, even if you’re still working.

If you can’t pay your energy bills

Speak to your energy supplier as soon as you can. You might be able to set up a payment plan with them to help spread the cost of your bills.

If you have a prepayment energy meter

Your supplier will try to help you find ways to keep your energy supply connected if you can’t top up your meter because of coronavirus.

Tell your supplier as soon as possible if you can’t top-up. You’ll find their contact details on their website or on your bill.

If you can’t pay your water bill

It’s best to speak to your water company as soon as you can if you’re having problems paying your bill. You might be able to get a payment holiday on your bill or move to a cheaper tariff.

You can find out more about what to do if you’re struggling to pay your water bill.

If you can’t pay a county court judgment or court order

You might be able to change the amount you have to pay.

If you can’t pay your tax bill

If you’re struggling to pay your tax bill, you should speak to HRMC straight away. You can call them on their coronavirus helpline:

HMRC coronavirus helpline:

Telephone: 0800 0159 559
Monday to Friday – 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Calls are free.