How to deal with job and financial uncertainty

Last reviewed on 5 October 2020

Coronavirus is affecting many people’s work and finances, whether you have a full-time job, a part-time job or you’re self-employed. A survey by YouGov in May 2020 found that almost half (44%) of people in the UK feel less financially secure, over a third (35%) say their income has gone down and 16% say their debts have gone up.

You might have been working from home or not working at all (e.g. if you've been on furlough). If you work for yourself, run a small business or you’re a gig worker, you might be worried about your livelihood. And if you’re a permanent employee, you might have questions about how your job will be protected.

We’ve created this guide to help you cope with your new work situation and get the facts about the financial support available. If you’re feeling anxious or stressed about what’s happening, go to the Good Thinking home page to access a broad range of mental health resources.


What is the Government doing to help?

As the Government stepped up its coronavirus response to protect public safety, it put a range of measures in place. Across the country, people were asked to stay at home and work from home where possible and schools, pubs, restaurants, cafés and other public spaces were closed. These steps were vital to reduce the burden on the NHS and save lives but they will have a significant effect on the economy and on certain industries in particular.

The Government has made help available if you’re unable to work or if you lose your job due to coronavirus and might struggle to pay your mortgage, rent, utility bills, loan repayments and other outgoings. These measures include a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, deferring VAT and Income Tax payments and a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs. In recent months, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced further measures to support jobs, including in his Winter Economy Plan.

This is a fast-moving situation and new information is coming out regularly so we recommend that you keep an eye on the following websites:

UK Government

Citizens Advice

Money Advice Service

Money Saving Expert


Will I get sick pay if I get the virus and have to take time off work?

Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus – or anyone who is told by the NHS Test and Trace service that they have been in contact with someone who has coronavirus – should stay at home and self-isolate in accordance with the official advice. If you need to take time off work because you or a family member becomes unwell from coronavirus, you’ll be entitled to your usual sick leave and sick pay from your employer. Employers have been advised by the Government to use their discretion and respect the medical need to self-isolate when making decisions about sick pay.

If your employment contract entitles you to Statutory Sick Pay, you’ll be entitled to it from the first day of your sickness. You’ll need to tell your employer that you’re sick or self-isolating due to coronavirus. If you aren’t eligible to receive sick pay (e.g. if you earn less than an average of £118 per week or if you’re self-employed) and you have to take time off work due to coronavirus, you might be entitled to claim benefits or grants (see below).

Find out more about Statutory Sick Pay and the eligibility criteria. Read the Government’s coronavirus guidance for employers and businesses and the NHS Test and Trace information.


Will I still get paid if my work closes?

To help protect jobs, the Government is providing grants to businesses so they can pay their PAYE workers 80% of their salaries up to a limit of £2,500 a month for a certain period of time. This Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been designed to encourage employers to retain staff at this challenging time.

Visit the UK Government website for full details on the scheme.


I’m self-employed, what support is available for me?

If you’re self-employed, you might be able to apply for a grant worth 80% of your average monthly profits (up to £2,500 a month) through the Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme for a certain period of time.

Read about the scheme on the UK Government website.


What can I do if I’m made redundant?

Sadly, some companies will close or make staff redundant as a result of coronavirus. If you have been made redundant or you’re at risk of being made redundant, you should consider reviewing your finances and explore what benefits you would be eligible for (see below).

The Citizens Advice and Money Saving Expert websites provide useful guides if you’re facing redundancy.


Am I entitled to benefits if I’m affected by coronavirus?

You may be entitled to a number of benefits, such as Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). The Government has also increased the levels of some benefits and housing allowance during the coronavirus outbreak. You’ll find useful information and benefits checkers here:

NHS (‘Coping financially’ advice)

Money Saving Expert (benefits check)

Turn2us (benefits calculator)


What happens to my mortgage / loan / credit card payments?

Many banks and building societies are offering their customers temporary mortgage payment holidays and similar breaks for loan and credit card payments. Your lender will need to agree to any kind of break in payment so, if you’re concerned, give them a call and see what they can offer you.

The Financial Conduct Authority and Which? have published guidance about this.


I’m worried I won’t be able to pay my rent, what should I do?

The Government has introduced measures to help protect you and has said that no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time. If you think you might struggle to pay your rent over the coming months, speak to your landlord as soon as possible. Explain your situation and explore a repayment plan.

You can find out more on the UK Government and Shelter websites.


Can I get a refund for cancelled tickets?

If you’ve booked tickets for holidays, concerts or other events that have been cancelled as a result of coronavirus, you should first explore with your insurer and / or the company from whom you purchased the tickets whether you’re eligible for a refund.

The Association of British Insurers has produced a Q&A about coronavirus and insurance and ABTA provides advice about travel.


Three ways to improve your financial health

1. Get better at budgeting

Make a list of all of your monthly costs, from bills to clothing to groceries. Try not to make any non-essential purchases and see where else you can reduce your costs, such as buying supermarket own brand goods. You might find you spend less money while you’re at home anyway – chatting to your friends online, using a fitness app, watching TV and cooking dinner can be inexpensive ways to spend time. Try setting a weekly/monthly spending goal and adjust it if you need to.

2. Make savings on your monthly bills

Now might be a good time to explore whether you can make any savings on your monthly credit card, gas, electricity or broadband bills. There are a number of free websites available that will let you explore whether changing your current provider or consolidating existing debt could save you money.

3. Get tips online

Read our advice for parents and carers to get some tips about things to do with children at home and our article about how to develop a new healthy habit. There are also lots of websites available to help you manage your money, including:

BBC Radio 4 ‘Money Box’

Citizens Advice

Compare The Market

Confused.com

Money Advice Service

Money Saving Expert

MoneySuperMarket

The Mix

Uswitch

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Find out how Good Thinking can help to support your mental health at this time.

Listen to the Good Thinking podcasts with Jack Apperley (coping with loss of work) and Nicola Millard (the future of work).