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COVID-19: Our customers' safety is our priority, so we've changed some of our services. Learn more.

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Getting financial help during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

 

 

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We know this is a difficult time for many people. If you're worried about being able to make ends meet because of illness, self-isolation, school or work closures, we can help. Please read this important information, or grab a cuppa and listen to Sarah and Debbie from our Customer Account Team chatting through what you can do.

We can support you to claim any benefits you’re entitled to during this time if you’re not able to work or you’re not getting paid. 

If you’re already in receipt of benefits these will continue, and if your Universal Credit includes an amount for your housing costs it’s important that you use this to continue to pay your rent as normal.

We’re a landlord that’s here to help and it’s really important that you keep us informed so we can give you support as soon as possible. We know that everyone’s situation is different. 

The important thing is to contact us straight away if you get into difficulties.

If you’ve been working, things may have changed - because of COVID-19, your income may now be reduced, and we understand the difficulties and worry this may cause to you and your family. 

If your employment has ended or been reduced as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, and this means you’re struggling to pay your rent, we’ll work with you to agree a plan that can help you through this difficult period until you receive your benefit entitlements or you are back in work. 

We’ll also help you in any other way we can.  

We can offer debt advice and benefit calculations over the phone and have a specialist Money Advisor and two Universal Credit Advisors here to support you.

If you haven’t already signed up to use MyCuro, please do. You’ll be able to access your rent account securely online, any time.


Frequently asked questions about money, rent and benefits

I am worried about paying my rent due to COVID, will I go to court or be evicted?

No. We won't take action against anyone who is struggling to pay because they have lost income due to COVID-19. You will need to contact us to tell us you have been affected and agree a plan. This could be to delay your payments, or pay in instalments. The Customer Accounts Team will be respectful, kind and non-judgmental. Many of us have friends and family also affected and we understand what a worrying and uncertain time this is.

I am worried about my rent, can I get a rent payment holiday? 

The mortgage holidays that are talked about in the media are not giving anyone any money off of their mortgage, the money will still be owed after the three months ‘holiday’ has passed – mortgagees just won’t be chased for the money by the lenders until after this time.

We offer a flexible rent payment plan, will arrange any help and support that you may need, and won’t take anyone to court over arrears caused by COVID-19.

What should I do if I'm self-employed and need financial help?

What should I do if I'm employed and need financial help?

What should I do if I'm already getting Housing Benefit and Council Tax Deduction and need financial help?

What else are you doing? 

We are working hard to get our approach right with things changing on a daily basis. We can assist with benefit advice, help to claim, food bank provisions, welfare support, charity payments and money advice. Sam, Debbie and Ali are all on hand for specialist money and benefit advice, but our account managers can also do a lot of this work and will be pleased to help you. 

Will I get paid 80% of my salary that I have seen in the news?

All the latest information about this is available here. At the time of writing, the website states:

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers with a PAYE scheme will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

This applies to employees who have been asked to stop working, but who are being kept on the pay roll, otherwise described as ‘furloughed workers’. HMRC will reimburse 80% of their wages, up to £2,500 per month. This is to safeguard workers from being made redundant.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March and is initially open for 3 months, but will be extended if necessary. HMRC will set out more details shortly.

How do I work out 80% of my income?

There are lots of handy calculators online, like this one. 

What happens if I am self-isolating, or I am shielding and cannot go out for 12 weeks, but I need money from my PO account, or I need to get food and have nobody to help me?

If you cannot afford food head over to the Foodbank website or contact us customeraccountshelp@curo-group.co.uk.

If you can pay for food but are struggling to get a delivery slot and have nobody to help you get out, we're waiting for more information on help –  this is being looked at but no clear guidance are available yet. 

If you're an extremely vulnerable person you can get help with food delivery by registering here. There is also help for families who would normally qualify for free school meals here.

If you have money in your account and usually pay by payment card but cannot get out, you can pay online with a MyCuro account. We can set up a Direct Debit over the phone, or we can set you up with a recurring debit card payment. 

How do I know something that sounds like help is not a scam?

Sadly we're seeing an increase in some scams taking advantage of this difficult time. Take a look at the Citizens Advice webpage on how to check if something might be a scam. An example we've already seen is a text message that looks like a Gov.uk link trying to harvest data by promising a payment.    

I can't get through to the DWP by phone - help!

There is currently a huge demand for contacting the DWP about benefits so please:

  • If you have a current claim use your Journal to make contact
  • If you do not have a claim and need to make one, please claim online

If you're struggling to claim online, please contact us and we will help you.

If you must call the DWP and are an existing claimant please ensure you use your registered phone number as this will be the quickest way to get through – but please bear in mind may still be lengthy delays.  

In the meantime you can email us at customeraccountshelp@curo-group.co.uk or contact us here. You can also get help with Universal Credit by calling the Citizens Advice National Helpline on 0800 144 8 444.

If the DWP call you back be aware that they will never ask you for your bank details over the phone and people should never give out personal information unless they are sure the DWP are calling.

 

Will claiming benefits affect my credit score? 

Your Experian Credit Score won’t be affected by things like your income, savings, employment, or health expenses, because this information isn’t recorded on your credit report. However, companies may ask questions about these factors when you apply for credit, and may use these details when calculating their own version of your score. Find out more from Experian here.

I am unable to attend my Commitment appointment with my work coach, or my health benefit reassessment because I’m self-isolating or required to stay at home. What will happen?

You will continue to get your payments whilst your appointment is rearranged. You will need to contact Universal Credit via your online account using the journal, or by calling the Universal Credit helpline as soon as you can to inform them that you’re self-isolating.

As of Tuesday 17 March 2020 face-to-face assessments for sickness and disability welfare have been suspended for three months – this applies to Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit.

My employer has advised me not to attend my work place, reducing my hours of work and impacting my income. What can I do? 

If you are an existing Universal Credit claimant you’ll need to report a change through your online Universal Credit account. If you’re not already claiming Universal Credit, you can make a claim here.

You can also apply for an advance payment to help you through until the first payment, which should be five weeks after the day you made the claim. You can decide how much of the advance to take. This advance is to help you cover daily living costs like food and priority bills including rent. The advance needs to be paid back over 12 months so take this into account when deciding how much to borrow.

I usually make payments by going to a shop and using my payment card, but I can't go out. What should I do?

Please contact us and we can help you to either:

  • set up a regular Direct Debit payment, or
  • register with MyCuro to make payments online if you have access to the internet.

I pay for my energy using a prepayment card/key and can't top up. What should I do?

The advice from Ofgem is to tell your supplier straightaway if you can’t top up your meter. This includes if you are ill with coronavirus or following guidance to stay at home and self-isolate, and if you don’t have anyone to help you.

The government has launched an emergency package with energy suppliers to ensure you don’t face any additional hardships in heating or lighting your home during the coronavirus outbreak. 

For detailed information about this visit Ofgem's website.

MoneySaving has a round-up of what each energy company to doing to help. 


Please contact us if you get into financial difficulty - we're here to help. Don't be tempted to take out a doorstep loan. There's more advice and help here.


Useful links

www.gov.uk/coronavirus

www.moneysavingexpert.com/latesttip

www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/03/uk-coronavirus-help-and-your-rights/#supermarkets

www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/

beta.bathnes.gov.uk/coronavirus

www.citizensadvice.org.uk/health/coronavirus-what-it-means-for-you/



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