Supporting customers Covid-19
We are now months into the Covid-19 pandemic and still trying to understand the impact it is having on the economy, the labour market and how we choose to live our lives. Since March, various schemes have been introduced to help consumers but there are now some changes being made.
In light of the new national lockdown restrictions that will come into force on the 5th of Nov, the Government has extended its furlough scheme until the end of Nov.
The FCA has also announced the continuation of its payment deferral scheme. Customers who have not yet had a payment deferral can request one. High-cost short-term credit consumers are able to apply for a payment deferral of one month if they haven’t already had one.
The FCA has asked that consumer credit customers should not contact their lender about a payment deferral just yet. Lenders will provide information soon on what this means for their customers and how to apply for this support if our proposals are confirmed.
Consumer credit customers who have already benefitted from payment deferrals and are still experiencing payment difficulties should speak to their lender. Help has always been available if you are struggling with your consumer credit repayments. Firms will continue to provide support, tailored to your individual circumstances. This is available whether you need more support or if you need support for the first time.
Please contact your lenders as soon as possible. The earlier you make contact, or seek advice, the easier it will be for those organisations to assist you.
To get in contact with a lender, their contact details will be available on the information they sent you when you took out your loan. Or check the lender’s website for any new channels they may have set up to help during this pandemic. Many lenders have new chat functions or emails to help you can tell them about any issues.
You will need to be as open and transparent as possible about your situation when talking to your lender. This will help make sure they give you options that meet your needs.
Where can I look for advice?
The Money and Pensions Service has a dedicated Covid-19 support hub which has a wealth of information for consumers. Their advice covers all areas including redundancy, borrowing and insurance. All their advice is free, and they are also available via the telephone, if you want to chat about your situation.
If you are struggling with your finances, there are range of organisations that can help you free of charge:
The Money Advice Trust
The Money Advice Trust offers free and independent advice via National Debtline. They also operate Business Debtline self-employed people and company owners/directors.
StepChange Debt Charity
The charity has recently introduced the Covid Payment Plan (CVPP) to help those affected by the pandemic. The plan is aimed at people who just need a bit more time and a bit more forbearance to get back to resuming full payments on debts built up during Covid 19.
Lenders regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority are always expected to offer forbearance to those individuals who find themselves in financial trouble. This will include considering the suspension of payments, reducing, waiving or cancelling any further interest or charges. Many members will also apply breathing space policies to allow individuals the time to bring forward their own suggestions, such as payment plans to fit their financial circumstances.