Frequently asked questions: Covid-19

We have put together some of the questions you may have in connection with how the Coronavirus/ Covid-19 might be affecting your finances. Please be aware that advice from the government is changing on a daily basis. We will do our best to keep this information up-to-date, but please check the government’s designated Covid-19 (www.gov.uk/coronavirus) web page for the latest information.

(Information updated on 14th July 2020)

Accommodation and bills

I’ve moved back home, will I still be charged rent?

DMU halls of residence: Bede Hall and Waterway Gardens, students will not have to pay any outstanding rent for your third university term (after Easter). This means that whether you are leaving campus or staying here, you no longer have to worry about how you will pay for your accommodation. You would have needed to have let them know by 13th April, taken all your belongings with you and returned your keys.

Unite Students: which operates Filbert Village, Newarke Point, St Martins, The Grange, Liberty Court, Liberty Park and Liberty Court Annex, agreed that any student not staying for the third university term (after Easter) will not have to pay outstanding rental payments, provided you let them know by 10th April.

Student Roost: which operates The Summit, Upperton Road, Newarke Street, Eastern Boulevard, Queens Court, Regents Court, Brookland Road, also allowed students to be released early from their contracts, as long as they had applied by the 13th April deadline.

DMU is aware that there are many other students staying in privately-run halls which have not had such assurances and DMU is encouraging those providers to follow these examples. If you have any questions please email: halls@dmu.ac.uk

I can't afford to pay my rent, what help can I get?

The government introduced legislation to protect renters and landlords affected by Coronavirus. As a result, no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time.

Landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants (initially it was set to be until 25th June) this has since been extended until 30th September - most landlords will not be able to start possession proceedings unless they have given their tenants three-months’ notice.

At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, reviewing tenants’ individual circumstances.

I can't afford to pay my mortgage, what help can I get?

The government has announced a 3-month ‘payment holiday’ for mortgage payments. A payment holiday means you agree with your lender that you will not have to make mortgage payments for a set amount of time. Payment holidays are designed to help you when you may experience payment difficulties – in this case because of the Coronavirus situation.

This is not an automatic process, you will need to apply for this via your mortgage provider and be accepted. Most of the major providers have supplied online applications. If you are approved, it won’t affect your credit score. However, please do not cancel your direct debit without consulting your mortgage provider as this will damage your credit score!

It is important to remember that you still owe the amounts that you don't pay as a result of the payment holiday. Interest will continue to be charged on the amount you owe. Some have reported their mortgage repayments doubling after applying - if this happens to you, contact the provider, as it is likely to be a calculation error.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has proposed the following on 22nd May:

  • At the end of a payment holiday, firms should contact their customers to find out if they can resume payments and if so, agree a plan on how the missed payments will be repaid.
  • Lenders should continue to support customers who have already had a payment holiday where they need further help. Firms are expected to engage with their customers and find out what they can re-pay and, for those who remain in temporary financial difficulty, offer further support. As part of this firms should consider a further three-month payment holiday.
  • Customers that have not yet had a payment holiday and experiencing financial difficulty will be able to request one until 31st October 2020.
  • The current ban on repossessions of homes will be continued to 31st October 2020. This will ensure people are able to comply with the government’s policy to self-isolate if they need to.
  • Payment holidays and partial payment holidays offered under this guidance should not have a negative impact on credit files. However, it is not completely clear at this stage how taking a payment holiday could impact on future applications for a mortgage.

For more information, please visit the Financial Conduct Authority website. (www.fca.org.uk/consumers/mortgages-coronavirus-consumers)

I can't afford to pay my utility bills, what should I do?

New emergency measures with the energy industry have been agreed by the government to protect the domestic energy supply of those most in need during the disruption caused by COVID-19.

Customers with pre-payment meters who may not be able to add credit can speak to their supplier about options to keep them supplied.

Any energy customer in financial distress will also be supported by their supplier, which could include re-assessing/ reducing/ pausing debt repayments and bill payments, where necessary. Disconnection of credit meters will be completely suspended.

Can I get any help towards my Council Tax?

Most students are exempt from Council Tax but for those that aren’t, check with the Council to see if they are providing help. Here are a few that are:

I’m working from home, can I get money towards utility bills?

If you are required to work from home by your employer, they can pay a flat rate of £6 a week tax free (which has just increased for the new tax year) towards heating/ energy expenses. However, your employer might already be experiencing extreme financial difficulty and may struggle to do this. Instead you can claim an allowance from HMRC (if you are a basic rate tax payer it’s £1.20 a week/ higher rate tax payer it's £2.40 a week) and you don’t need to provide receipts. If you wanted to claim a higher amount, you’d have to supply evidence. You would need to complete a ‘P87’ form only AFTER you have returned back to work.

What can I do if I can't afford to pay for my insurance policies?

From 18th May new legislation was introduced to allow you to apply for a 3-month payment holiday on the following:

  • Home insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Travel insurance
  • Boiler insurance
  • Private medical insurance
  • Car insurance: the provider will see if a reduction is possible first e.g. by reducing the mileage if you are travelling a lot less now. If that doesn't work, they will look at a payment holiday.

Only opt for a payment holiday as a last resort as interest charges can soon add up.

If you decide to cancel a policy, the insurance company will have to waive the cancellation fees.

Can I get a refund on my TV sports package?

Due to major sporting events and set fixtures being cancelled, Sky Sports will let you pause and restart the sports part of the package until the sporting calendar is resumed. If you have the full subscription, it will restart on 19th June, as some sporting fixtures resume. If you only subscribed to a single sport channel and that hasn't resumed yet, then the pause will continue.

BT Sport previously offered users a refund of one month's subscription. They are now only offering 50% bill credit in June.

What changes have been made to Stamp Duty?

If you are buying a house, you would normally pay Stamp Duty over £125,000. But this has temporarily been cut until 31st March 2021. Now you would pay 5% Stamp Duty over £500,000 (e.g. if the house is £600,000, you pay 5% of the amount above £500,000 = £5,000).

However, if you are buying a second home, you would pay 3% Stamp Duty on any value.

If you have already completed on your house purchase, you are not eligible for the new rates. If you have exchanged but not completed, you are eligible for the new rates.

Employment

Will my employer be able to keep me on/pay me?

Job Retention Scheme (furlough): all UK employers have been able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. 

  • For the first few months HMRC were reimbursing 80% of ‘furloughed’ workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
  • July: the flexible furlough adjustment starts from 1st July, where employees can return to work part time. The employer will decide what works best for their business. An example: if a full-time employee is allowed to return to work 2 days a week, the employer would pay 100% of the wages for those 2 days, and the furlough scheme would cover the remaining 3 days at 80% rate (cap £2,500)
  • August: the employer will be expected to cover National Insurance and Pension Contributions (average claim is the equivalent to 5%), the government pays the remainder to make up to the 80%
  • September: the employer will be expected to pay 10%, the government pays 70% (up to £2,190)
  • October: the employer will be expected to pay 20%, the government pays 60% (up to £1,875)
  • This scheme will close at the end of October.
  • The cut-off date for being on the pay roll was originally 28th Feb and got extended to 19th March. However, if you get paid monthly and your new job started on 1st March 2020, the employer may not have sent the ‘Real Time Information’ to HMRC, which can sometimes be done a week before pay day. This could mean you might not be registered with HMRC by the 19th March cut-off date.
  • the first version of the furlough scheme closes to new applications on 30th June - employers wanting to place new employees on the scheme need to have done so by 10th June
  • If you are on maternity pay now and get furloughed, they will use the salary you were on prior to going onto maternity leave. If you have been on maternity/paternity leave prior to the outbreak and are due to return to work soon, you can still be put on furlough, the deadline date won't apply.

Statutory Sick Pay relief package: for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). See the ‘Benefits’ section for further information about Statutory Sick Pay. These SMEs may be able to claim a refund, which will cover up to two weeks’ SSP per eligible employee, who are either ill or been told to self- isolate because of COVID-19. The eligible period for the scheme began on 13th March 2020.

What if I am self-employed?

Self-employed Income Support Scheme: 

Grant 1
  • a non-repayable grant (which is taxable) 80% of profits, up to £2,500 a month (£7,500 in total)
  • the profits will be averaged over 3 years up to April 2019, it won’t take savings into account
  • you will be contacted the second week in May by letter/email/text (check it's not a scam)
  • applications opened 13th May but closed on 13th July, so you can no longer apply for Grant 1
  • you should get paid 6 working days after the appointment slot
  • it covers March, April, May and will be backdated
  • you were allowed to keep working as long as you conformed to social distancing
  • if you work for an employer and are also self-employed, if over 50% of your earnings is from self-employment, you would apply to this scheme. You might also be able to apply for the Furlough scheme, as they are not linked
  • if you are on PAYE, apply for the Furlough scheme via your employer.
Grant 2
  • the scheme has been extended to cover June, July, August
  • but this time it only covers 70% of average monthly profits for 3 months (cap £6,570)
  • applications will open from 17th August to make a claim - HMRC will contact you
  • they estimate the payments would be made by the end of August
  • you will need to confirm that your business was adversely affected on/after 14th July. This may be a reflection of the easing of lockdown measures. If your business is back up and running on 14th July, you might only be covered for June and part of July.

Any late tax returns for 2018/19 were extended to 23rd April – this needed to have been done in order to qualify for the scheme listed above. Your July self-assessment tax payment can be delayed by 6 months.

If you are self-employed and receiving Universal Credit and you have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate, the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed. This change took effect on 13 March 2020, and will last for the duration of the outbreak, to ensure that self-employed UC claimants will receive support. Savings are counted when calculating eligibility, but if you can prove that you have set aside money for paying your tax (do this via your Universal Credit log book), it won’t count towards your benefit calculation.

Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments: the government will support businesses by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months (applies from 20th March 2020 until 30th June 2020). This is an automatic offer with no applications required.
If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.

What income is the government using for zero hour contracts?

It would be taken from the pay roll you were on, as of 28th February. For those with an irregular income working on PAYE, they would use the higher amount of either:

  • what you earned in the same month last year (e.g. March 2019) if with the same employer; or
  • take the average monthly income made over the last 12 months (April 2019 – April 2020). If you haven’t worked there for 12 months, they would average the monthly income over less time.

If the monthly comparison figure is higher, they would use that. If the average figure calculation is higher, they would use that.

How do I get evidence for my employer that I can't go into work?

By law, medical evidence is not required for the first 7 days of sickness. After 7 days, employers may use their discretion around the need for medical evidence if an employee is staying at home.

The government has strongly suggested that employers use their discretion around the need for medical evidence for a period of absence where an employee is advised to stay at home either as they are unwell themselves, or live with someone who is, in accordance with the public health advice issued by the government.

If evidence is required to cover self-isolation or household isolation beyond the first 7 days of absence then employees can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online (111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/) or from the NHS website (www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice/).

My employer has closed, so how can I continue to work to supplement my income?

Non-essentail shops have been allowed to open, if they are Covid-safe, from 15th June. The government is expected to make further announcements (week commencing 22nd June) about the easing of lockdown measures for the hospitality industry, likely to come into effect in early July. If you are fit and well and want to work, it may be beneficial to think about how employment is changing in the short term for the foreseeable future. There are some companies that have remained open throughout and are being stretched to capacity. Even if they are fully staffed, they may need to take on additional temporary staff to cover sickness or their current staff who are self-isolating, for example:

  • supermarkets
  • pharmacies that may need to organise deliveries of medication
  • online delivery services
  • postal services
  • any shops/ services that are open
  • food production companies
  • fruit and veg picking scheme 'Pick for Britain', click here for more information
  • outlets that are still allowed to provide a takeaway option

However, please ensure that you are not putting your own health, or others at risk. If you can find any employment that can be done by working from home, that would be ideal.

Tuition fees 

I can't afford to pay my tuition fees, what do I do?

Please contact the Income Team in the Finance Department income@dmu.ac.uk to discuss your circumstances.

Benefits

What is statutory sick pay and am I eligible?

Statutory sick pay (SSP) is paid to employees who are too unwell and unable to work for a period of four days or more. Currently, the SSP rate for employees who are eligible is £94.25 per week, for up to 28 weeks.

If you’re on a zero hours contract, you can still get sick pay – you should ask your employer for it. If they say no, ask them to explain why. You can contact your nearest Citizens Advice (www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/contact-us/contact-us/) if you’re not happy with their explanation.

Those who follow advice to stay at home and who cannot work as a result, will be eligible for SSP, even if they are not themselves sick. Employers should use their discretion and respect the medical need to self-isolate in making decisions about sick pay.

You won’t qualify for SSP if:

  • you are self-employed
  • have already received the 28 weeks SSP
  • earn less than £118 a week
  • you are in receipt of Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance.

What do I do if I am not eligible for statutory sick pay?

Anyone not eligible to receive sick pay, including those earning less than an average of £118 per week, some of those working in the gig economy, or self-employed people, is able to claim Universal Credit (www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/) and or contributory Employment and Support Allowance.

For those on a low income and already claiming Universal Credit, it is designed to automatically adjust depending on people’s earnings or other income. However, if someone needs money urgently they can apply for an advance through the journal.

For more information, please visit www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay.

The Jobcentre Plus is closed, what do I do about claiming Universal Credit?

If you need to claim Universal Credit but have COVID-19 or are self-isolating, you will now be able to claim and to access advance payments upfront without needing to attend a Jobcentre Plus. Please visit www.gov.uk/universal-credit for more information.

How soon can I claim Employment Support Allowance?

If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate.

What is the NHS death in service scheme?

The families of health and care workers on the frontline in England will benefit from a new life assurance scheme during the coronavirus pandemic. The scheme is aimed at those who die from coronavirus during the course of their essential and lifesaving work. This includes those providing direct care as well as cleaners and porters who continue to carry out vital duties in these care environments.

  • Bereaved family members will receive a £60,000 lump sum, worth roughly twice the average pensionable pay for NHS staff, with the cost met by the government.
  • This will cover full, part-time or locum NHS and public health workers, including GPs, dentists, retired staff and Second Year and Final Year students taking up paid frontline roles.
  • Within social care, the scheme will cover employees of publicly funded care homes, home care, directly employed carers including personal assistants and frontline child and family social workers.

What happens to the Tax Free Childcare/ Free Nursery hours?

Some of the criteria has been relaxed a bit due to Covid-19. There is a minimum of £140 per week earnings but if your income has dropped temporarily you can still claim for the moment. If you had this before and were earning £100,000, if you are a critical worker (e.g. a doctor) doing lots of Covid-19 overtime that's pushed you over the £100,000, you will still be able to claim this temporarily.

I’ve had a baby, how can I claim Child Benefit if I can’t register the birth in person?

You can still make a claim to receive Child Benefit without the certificate. Claims can be backdated by up to 3 months.

  • If you are a first-time parent, complete a ‘CH2’ claim form and add a note to say why you haven’t been able to register the birth, send it to the Child Benefit Office (address on form). 
  • If you already claim Child Benefit, you can complete the form, or add your new-born’s details over the phone on 0300 200 3100. You will need your National Insurance number or Child Benefit number.

You can send the certificate at a later date. Information you need when registering a birth:

  • place and date of the birth
  • name, surname and sex of the baby
  • parents’ names, surnames and address
  • places and dates of parents’ birth
  • date of parents’ marriage or civil partnership
  • parents’ jobs
  • mother’s maiden surname

What happens with my children's free school meals?

Where schools are not able to provide eligible pupils not attending school with meals or food parcels, they can provide families eligible for benefits-related free school meals with supermarket vouchers in term-time weeks. Parents should contact the school or local authority, who will verify eligibility and award free school meals. The vouchers are currently for the following supermarkets: Morrisons; Tesco; Sainsbury’s; Asda; Waitrose; M&S; Aldi.

The government has announced that it will provide a Covid Summer Food Fund, issuing vouchers for 6 weeks over the summer vacation for those that are eligible. This equates to approximately £15 a week per child.

How does this new 'Eat Out to Help Out' scheme work?

Restaurants can choose to offer a discount to diners between 3rd - 31st August:
  • all day, every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
  • 50% discount, up to a maximum of £10 per person, to diners for food or non-alcoholic drinks to eat or drink in
  • the restaurant claims the money back from the government
  • there is no limit to the number of times customers can use the offer during the period of the scheme
  • customers cannot get a discount for someone who is not eating or drinking
  • alcohol and service charges are excluded from the offer.

University funds

I’m an International Student, struggling financially, what help is available from DMU?

We know not all of you will be able to leave your accommodation on campus and travel home at this time and we want to make sure you are fully supported while you are here. You may be eligible for a contribution towards food/ toiletries/ cleaning products from the International Hardship Fund (Covid-19). We can only provide support if you are still living in England and as long as your course hasn’t finished. Please check the website for information on eligibility and how to apply. The Fund will close on Friday 28th August.

I’m an EU Student, struggling financially, what help is available from DMU?

If you are an EU student who doesn’t qualify for the Maintenance Loan from Student Finance England, you may be eligible for a contribution towards food/ toiletries/ cleaning products from the International Hardship Fund (Covid-19). We can only provide support if you are still living in England and as long as your course hasn’t finished. Please check the website for information on eligibility and how to apply. The Fund will close on Friday 28th August.

If you are an EU student who is in receipt of the Maintenance Loan from Student Finance England and you are no longer eligible to apply to the Home/EU Hardship Fund (Covid-19), you may be able to start looking for jobs over the summer, now that the government restrictions are easing, with shops and other businesses opening from 15th June. Also please refer to the other advice on this Frequently Asked Questions page. If you still feel that you need to speak to someone about your financial concerns, please book a ¼ hour ‘Quick Query’ appointment with Student Finance and Welfare – you can book this via MyGateway 

If you are struggling right now, visit the Step Change website.

Cypriot students required to remain away from their study location at Easter may be able to secure up to 750 euros from the Cypriot government to help with their costs. Use the following web link: https://eservices.moec.gov.cy/foititiki-merimna/epidoma-foititon-exoterikou/login

I’m a Home Student, struggling financially, what help is available from DMU?

If you have been impacted by Covid-19 and are no longer eligible to apply to the Home/EU Hardship Fund (Covid-19), you may be able to start looking for jobs over the summer, now that the government restrictions are easing, with shops and other businesses opening from 15th June. Also please refer to the other advice on this Frequently Asked Questions page. If you still feel that you need to speak to someone about your financial concerns, please book a ¼ hour ‘Quick Query’ appointment with Student Finance and Welfare – you can book this via MyGateway 

If you are struggling right now, visit the Step Change website.

I applied to the DMU Support Fund over 4 weeks ago, why haven’t I heard anything?

We are currently up-to-date with DMU Support Fund assessments. Please check your DMU email, including the Junk and Spam folders, as we may have already contacted you for missing evidence. Please note that the Fund is now closed (it closed on 12th June). We might still be able to process your missing evidence but please act URGENTLY before the funds run out/ or we reach our financial year-end (end of July).

Is the DMU Support Fund still open, as the University is closed?

The DMU Support Fund did remain open for electronic applications during lockdown throughout term time. However, the Fund has now closed (on 12th June).

Student funding

The EU Migrant Worker Maintenance Loan relies on me working, will I still be eligible?

Students who have already applied for spring 2019/20 course starts, and have provided evidence that was accepted at that time, will not have any further requests for evidence or checks carried out.

Students who are due to start courses in the spring of 2020, and have not yet applied for 2019/20 funding, may have to apply as EU students for a Tuition Fee loan only, if they are not able to show they meet the worker status. If they can show they are working in the future, they can apply for a review. This is the current usual process.

Student Finance England are still reviewing 2020/21 applications and further guidance will follow.

I’m not at university now, so does that mean I won’t get my third student funding instalment?

You will still receive your next student funding instalment as normal, as long as you haven’t already taken a break from study (interrupted) or withdrawn from your course, prior to the Covid-19 outbreak. If you were living away from home while studying and already getting the higher amount of Maintenance Loan, you will not be put onto the living-at-home lower amount if you needed return home.

If you don’t receive your payment, it could be due to other reasons like the funding provider waiting for evidence etc. You would need to contact them to find out what the delay is, if the payment isn’t made.

  • Student Finance England: 0300 100 0607
  • Student Finance Wales: 0300 200 4050
  • Student Awards Agency Scotland: 0300 555 0505
  • Student Finance Northern Ireland: 0300 100 0077
  • Student Finance England EU Team: 0141 243 3570

Should I still apply for next academic year’s funding?

Yes, you should still apply for your funding as normal for your next academic year, even if you aren’t sure of your plans. It is better to get assessed for funding and cancel it at a later date if you need to.  

Student Finance England (SFE) is operating at a reduced capacity and they will assess applications as soon as they can. From week commencing 28th April, returning students are being contacted to remind them to re-apply for their next year’s student finance. They announced that there is now an extension of the application deadline for full-time, returning students in England and Wales until 30th June. They are encouraging students to log in at less busy times and you might be placed in a 'virtual' queue.

If you can’t post evidence due to self-isolating or you are not feeling well, SFE’s priority is your safety and well-being so stay at home. They are making provision for evidence to be uploaded via your online account. If you previously sent evidence later than normal, they will make sure you don’t lose out on student finance because of this.

SFE’s contact details and current opening hours are listed below, but the phone lines are likely to be very busy, so they are urging students to only contact them if it’s urgent:

SFE: 0300 100 0607
EU Team: 0141 243 3570
Monday to Friday: 10am – 5:30pm
Saturday and Sunday: closed

What happens to my Maintenance Loan if my parents’ income has dropped?

If you already qualify for the maximum Maintenance Loan you don’t need to do anything. For 2019/20 the maximum amounts are £7,529 for students living at home with parents while studying (prior to the lockdown), or £8,944 for living away from home while studying (prior to the lockdown). These figures would be higher for students with a higher number of weeks in their academic year, e.g. Nursing.

If you don’t get the full amount and either your parent(s) or partner’s income has dropped by 15% or more, they can fill in a ‘Current Year Income’ (CYI) assessment form.

The applications for 2020/21 will be based on your parent(s) or partner’s income for the previous tax year of 2018/19. SFE would need the evidence for the 2018/19 tax year first, then a CYI form can be completed.

Overdrafts and credit cards

Will banks still increase interest on my overdraft to 40% from 6 April?

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, banks were changing their policy on overdrafts to increase interest charges to 40% (student accounts with agreed overdraft limits would continue to be 0%).

All banks offered the first £500 of approved overdrafts interest free. However, it wasn't automatic, and you needed to apply online. They proposed there shouldn't be financial penalties or charges for doing so and it won’t affect your credit score.

Check your bank's policy as the initial offers are now coming to an end This is to give you an example of what some of the banks have stated:

  • Halifax and Lloyds: between 9th April – 9th July, the first £500 of an arranged overdraft was interest free. From 10th July, you will start to pay interest whenever you use your arranged overdraft. You can apply online for a further 3-month period of up to £500 interest-free on your arranged overdraft.
  • Santander: existing support will continue until 23rd July to allow you time to make your request. You can now ask for a further 3 months of overdraft support if you still find yourself financially impacted by coronavirus, you can request this help until 31 October.
  • TSB: you can request an extra three months interest free overdraft allowance of up to £500.

I can’t afford to pay my credit cards/ loans, what should I do?

The following forms of credit offered a 3-month payment holiday on request. This has been extended for a further 3 months, until 31st October. You can either request an extension, or if you haven't yet used this as an option, you can apply for a 3-month payment holiday:

  • Credit cards
  • Store cards
  • Personal loans
  • Catalogue debts
Please note that the following haven't yet been confirmed for the additional 3-month extension:
  • Car finance (PCP, lease, HP deals)
  • Buy-now-pay-later/ rent-to-own schemes

Please note: interest would still be charged and if you are likely to accrue large amounts of interest, it would be much better to keep making monthly payments if you can afford it. Only consider this option as a last resort.

Payday Loans are offering a 1-month payment freeze, which includes a freeze on the interest charged.

Do not cancel your payments without contacting the lender. This won’t affect your credit file but can have an impact on your credit worthiness.

The Insolvency Service regulator has said that if you have an IVA, you can either apply for a 3-month payment holiday, or apply for 25% reduced payments.

Travel

Can changes to my flight mean I can get a refund?

With EU-regulated flights (any flight leaving a UK airport) if the flight is cancelled, you are entitled to a full refund by law, not vouchers. Lots of airlines are only currently offering vouchers, if you can use the vouchers, it will help the airline industry, which is under threat at the moment. If you need the money, call them, you may be on hold for some time but persevere. If that doesn’t work, contact your credit/debit card provider and say that you paid for a service you didn’t receive and ask them to do a ‘charge back’.

British Airways (BA) announced that if your flight is still running and you need to cancel your flight, if you cancel it before 31st July, BA will give you a voucher. However, if you opt for this, then BA cancels the flight, you are not entitled to a refund. It would be better to wait until nearer the time, see if they cancel it and then claim a refund.

Ryanair claims that it will clear 90% of their refunds backlog by 31st July.

Can I get a refund on my annual travel insurance?

Some companies, including AXA, Churchill, Direct Line, are offering a refund (calculated pro rata) on what is left on the policy, as long as you haven't claimed on the policy and you are not going to use it for the rest of the year.

From 18th May new legislation was introduced to allow you to apply for a 3-month payment holiday. Only opt for this as a last resort as interest charges can soon add up. The company will have to waive any cancellation fees.

Can I get a refund on my train tickets?

You can get a refund for almost all rail tickets, including the unused part of a season ticket. However, you are only allowed to backdate your claim for 8 weeks and the refunds due to Coronavirus started from 17th March, the 8 weeks from that date ends on 12th May, so do it quickly if you are backdating your claim from that date. Contact the travel company to find out how to claim it back.

My car’s MOT is due soon, how am I meant to sort that out?

If your MOT was due between 30th March - 31st July, you will automatically be given a 6-month extension to get it done. You will still be able to drive the car, as long as it is road-worthy. But remember, you should only be using your car for essential travel, as per the government’s guidelines. From 1st August onwards, MOTs are compulsory.

Can I get my motor insurance/ road tax refunded?

Admiral Insurance (which includes Bell, Diamond and Elephant) has announced it will provide customers with automatic refunds of £25 for each car/van that was covered with an active policy on 20th April 2020. This is to reflect reduced driving and a reduction in the number of claims during the lockdown. You won’t need to do anything, it will automatically be credited to your account by the end of May.

From 18th May new legislation was introduced to allow you to apply for a 3-month payment holiday. The provider will see if a reduction is possible first e.g. by reducing the mileage if you are travelling a lot less now. If that doesn't work, they will look at a payment holiday. Only opt for this as a last resort as interest charges can soon add up. The company will have to waive cancellation fees and can't charge you for making changes to the policy, for example, to request a reduction now that your mileage is a lot less.

If you are using your car for essential travel e.g. to a supermarket, or if it is parked on the street, you will still need to have valid road tax and car insurance. If you are no longer using your vehicle at all and can keep it in a garage, you can declare your vehicle as ‘SORN’ (Statutory Off-Road Notification) with the DVLA. You would get any full months remaining on your road tax refunded.

Can I get any help towards cycling costs?

The government is working with employers to increase uptake on the 'Cycle to Work Scheme', ask if your employer is part of the scheme, as you might be able to buy a new bike or electric bike tax free (25% - 39% off) through your employer.

The government is looking at introducing a 'Fix Your Bike' scheme later in June, a £50 voucher for bike repairs/maintenance to get an existing bike roadworthy and there are plans being developed on providing bike fixing facilities across the country.

New temporary cycle lanes are being set up to encourage us to cycle and to ideally avoid public transport.

The photo part of my driving licence is due to expire soon. What should I do?

For those that haven't yet done so, you need to check the expiry date on the photo part of your driving licence - this is listed under '4b'. If it has already lapsed, or due to lapse between 1st Feb - 31st Aug, 7 months will automatically be added to get it renewed. If your licence expired before 1st Feb, you will need to get this renewed urgently - if you get stopped by the police while driving with an expired licence, they could impose a hefty fine at some point.

Consumer rights and contactless payments

I can’t return a store purchase, does that mean I won’t get a refund now?

Your in-store retail returns rights may have been extended. Some stores adapted their returns policy. However, now that a lot of shops have re-opened, you might need to return your goods that you bought before lockdown very soon as the extended dates may be coming to an end. Please check the company's website for their latest updates.

Shops are encouraging using contactless, can I exceed the limit?

Contactless card transactions used to be set at a £30 limit per transaction, but from 1 April, it has been increased (by £15) to a £45 limit.

What are my rights to claim a refund for goods/services I haven't received?

The Competition & Markets Authority regulator has provided new guidance saying that you have a legal right to a refund if no goods or service has been provided. This includes if a business can't provide a service or the customer can't access the service due to the lockdown. The sectors they are currently focusing on are weddings and events, travel accommodation, and nurseries. They are looking at enforcing this by taking businesses to court, but they hope that companies will do the right thing by the customer. See www.gov.uk/cma for more information. If you paid by card, you could contact your credit/debit card provider and say that you paid for a service you didn’t receive and ask them to do a ‘charge back’. But let the business know what you intend to do before you do this, as they could incur costs, so it may be more beneficial to them to provide a refund.

Contacting Student Finance and Welfare

Who am I meant to speak to about my financial concerns if the University is closed?

We hope that these Frequently Asked Questions may help with some of your queries. There is also a lot of useful information on our website. We are continuing to provide telephone appointments to abide by the government’s guidelines. Please refer to the website (www.dmu.ac.uk/current-students/student-support/student-finance/index.aspx) on the update regarding appointments. You can also follow us on social media:

 
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