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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 ( web page for the latest information.

(Information updated on 25th August 2021)

Accommodation and bills

  1. Can I get a rent refund due to the current lockdown that started in Dec 2020?

    Students in DMU halls (Bede Hall, Waterway Gardens and New Wharf Halls) who are not able to come back on to campus will receive a 100% rebate while they are unable to use their accommodation during this period of national lockdown. This will apply from 11th January and we also commit to extending this rebate if the national restrictions are prolonged. Please see details on how to apply for this rebate and full eligibility criteria on DMU’s accommodation web page the deadline to apply was 25th January 2021.

    The majority of DMU students live in accommodation owned and managed by external parties (ie, the contract is between the student and the private provider). We wanted to set a good example through the discount we have offered and we will now be writing to all private providers encouraging them to make similar provisions. But, please note, that we cannot force them to do so, given that the contract is between the student and private provider. Many private providers are starting to announce their own schemes. Universities UK, of which we are a member, is also lobbying for government intervention with private providers.

    Unite Students announced that there is a 50% rental discount for eligible students for a four-week period from 18th January to 14th February 2021. In addition, eligible students can also participate in a four-week extension to the end of their tenancy at no extra charge. Please check Unite Students website for more information.

  2. 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 evict tenants until at least 31st May 2021. More information is available from Shelter.

    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.

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

    Payment holidays are when 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. Please don't cancel your direct debit without consulting your mortgage provider as this will damage your credit score! If you were approved, it wasn't meant to affect your credit score but there have been reports of lenders finding other ways to identify this and some people being refused credit with other lenders.

    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.

    • If you haven't had a payment holiday yet, you can request a pause in payments from the lender, which could last up to 6 months (last date to apply was extended to 31st March) these will come to an end on 31st July 2021.
    • If you have already had payments deferred, you can extend it until you reach the 6-month limit (last date to apply was extended to 31st March) these will come to an end on 31st July 2021.
    • If you have already reached the maximum 6-month limit and you are still facing financial difficulty, you should speak to your lender about a tailored support plan, but this new arrangement will go on your credit report.
    • Mortgage lenders can start or continue repossession action in the courts. But no evictions by bailiffs can take place until after 31st May 2021.

    For more information, please visit the Financial Conduct Authority website.

  4. 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.

  5. 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:
  6. 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.

    In October 2020, the government launched a new website, where you can check eligibility and apply for a tax code. You need to be REQUIRED to work from home, not choose to. You wouldn't get money paid to you, you would just pay less tax if eligible.

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

    From 18th May 2020, legislation was introduced to allow you to apply for up to a 6-month payment holiday (in 3-month blocks) 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.

    These only lasted until 31st March 2021. If you have already had the maximum 6-month holiday, ask your lender for tailored support, but any new 'tailored' agreement will go on your credit report.

    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.

  8. Can I get a refund on my TV sports package?

    Due to major sporting events and set fixtures being cancelled, Sky Sports let customers pause and restart the sports part of their package until the sporting calendar resumed. If you have the full subscription, it restarted on 19th June 2020, as some sporting fixtures resumed. If you only subscribed to a single sport channel and that hasn't resumed yet, then the pause will continue.

    BT Sport previously offered customers a refund of one month's subscription. They then only offered 50% bill credit in June.

  9. What changes have been made to Stamp Duty?

    The Stamp Duty holiday ended on 30th June 2021.

    From 1st July - 30th September 2021 the duty is currently:

    • £0 - £250,000 = 0%
    • £250,001 - £925,000 = 5%

    An example of what you would pay on Stamp Duty at 5% if the house purchase price is £300,000, you pay 5% of the amount above £250,000 (5% of £50,000) = £2,500.

    From 1st October 2021, it will revert back to the original rates:

    • £0 - £125,000 = 0%
    • £125,001 - £250,000 = 2%
    • £250,001 - £925,000 = 5%


  1. What was Job Retention Scheme (Furlough) that ran from March - end of Oct?

    Job Retention Scheme (furlough): all UK employers were 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 started from 1st July, where employees could return to work part time. The employer decided what worked best for their business. An example: if a full-time employee was allowed to return to work 2 days a week, the employer paid 100% of the wages for those 2 days, and the furlough scheme covered the remaining 3 days at 80% rate (cap £2,500)
    • August: the employer was expected to cover National Insurance and Pension Contributions (average claim is the equivalent to 5%), the government paid the remainder to make up to the 80%
    • September: the employer was expected to pay 10%, the government paid 70% (up to £2,190)
    • October: the employer was expected to pay 20%, the government paid 60% (up to £1,875)
    • This scheme was due to close at the end of October, but it has been extended (with updated criteria) until December - see other question on the amended system.
    • The cut-off date for being on the pay roll was originally 28th Feb and got extended to 19th March. However, if you were 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 have been registered with HMRC by the 19th March cut-off date.
    • the first version of the furlough scheme closed 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 were on maternity pay and got furloughed, they would have used the salary you were on prior to going onto maternity leave. If you were on maternity/paternity leave prior to the outbreak and were due to return to work, it was possible to still be put on furlough, as the deadline date wouldn't have applied.

  2. What is the Job Retention Scheme (Furlough) from November 2020 onwards?

    The Job Retention Scheme (Furlough) has been extended until the end of September 2021. This revised date was announced in the Budget on 3rd March 2021.

    Businesses have flexibility to either bring furloughed employees back to work on a part-time basis or furlough them full-time. The employer will need to cover National Insurance and Pension contributions (on average it's approx 5%) and the government will cover 80% of the wages of employees' hours not worked (up to £2,500 max).

    From July 2021 employers will be expected to contribute 10%, the government's contribution is 70%. In August and September 2021, employers will be expected to cover 20% and the government covers 60%.


    • it is ultimately the employer's decision whether to furlough a member of staff
    • they must declare that they intend to continue to trade and either that Covid has reduced demand, or it means that they can't trade temporarily
    • employees need to be on the payroll by 30th October 2020
    • you don't need to have been furloughed before to qualify
    • you could be furloughed if you need to be off work for childcare or shielding (ask your employer)
    • if you have recently been made redundant, since 23rd September, you could ask to be re-hired and be re-furloughed, as long as you were on the payroll between 20th March - 23rd September 2020.

  3. What happened to the Job Support Scheme?

    The Furlough (Job Retention Scheme) was initially due to finish at the end of October 2020, but it has since been been extended several times (with updated criteria) until end of September 2021. The Job Support Scheme was meant to commence on 1st November 2020 and run for 6 months, but the government decided to extend the existing Job Retention Scheme (furlough) instead.

  4. I am self-employed. What is Self-Employed Income Support (Grant 1 & Grant 2)?

    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.

  5. I am self-employed. What is Self-Employed Income Support (Grant 3 & Grant 4 & 5)?

    The Self-employed Income Support (SEIS) grant has been extended.

    Grant 3:

    • For self-employed who have been affected by Covid between 1st November 2020 - 31st January 2021
    • One-off full payment of 80% of average profits for 3 months, capped at £7,500 (the government updated the amounts on 5th November)
    • Applications opened on 30th November, the deadline to apply was 29th January 2021
    • The grant covers 3 months, it usually gets paid within a few days
    • The declaration criteria is much stricter this time - you need evidence of a significant trading profit reduction since 1st November 2020 due to Covid. This must be due to either: lower demand/capacity (e.g. fewer customers, cancelled contracts, issues with supply chain) or temporarily unable to trade (e.g. government restrictions, parental/caring responsibilities due to Covid, instructions to shield/self-isolate, but not when returning from abroad)
    • Unfortunately if you weren't eligible before (business not running long enough) you're still not eligible.

    If you are self-employed and receiving Universal Credit, the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor was temporarily relaxed. This was extended until April 2021, to ensure that self-employed UC claimants received support. Savings are counted when calculating eligibility, but if you could prove that you had set aside money for paying your tax (via your Universal Credit log book), it didn’t count towards your benefit calculation.

    Self-assessment tax due in January 2021 can be spread over the tax year. It includes the tax payment that was deferred until July 2020. It could be done via 'Time to Pay' across 2021 with no interest added.

    Grant 4:

    • For self-employed who have been affected by Covid between 1st February - 30th April 2021
    • The 4th grant is 80% of average trading profits for three months, capped at £7,500
    • Some who were recently self-employed were not eligible for the previous grants due to a lack of the required tax return. But now that the 2019/20 tax return is available, this means that those self employed, who filed their tax return by midnight, 2nd March, became eligible to apply
    • Applications for the 4th grant opened late April 2021 and closed 31st May 2021.

    Grant 5:

    A 5th and final grant was announced in the Budget (3rd March 2021) to cover 3 months, with slightly different criteria. If turnover has fallen by 30% or more, that qualifies for the full grant full grant (80% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £7,500). If turnover has dropped by less than 30% the amount of grant will be reduced (30% of 3 months' average trading profits, capped at £2,850). Applications opened 29th July 2021 and the closing date is 30th September 2021.

  6. 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, or from the NHS website.

  7. How can I continue to work to supplement my income?

    If you are fit and well and want to work, it may be beneficial to think about how employment has changed in the current climate for the foreseeable future. Recently the hospitality and leisure industries have struggled to recruit, so don't assume there are no jobs out there! Even if companies are fully staffed, they may need to take on additional temporary staff to cover sickness or their current staff who are self-isolating.

    You could also try searching on the following sites:

Tuition fees 

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

    Please contact the Income Team in the Finance Department to discuss your circumstances.


  1. 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 £95.85 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 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.

    Statutory Sick Pay relief package: small and medium-sized businesses (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.

  2. 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 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

  3. 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 for more information.

  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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

University funds

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

    Please refer to the other information in this Frequently Asked Questions page for helpful advice.

    If you still feel that you need to speak to someone about your financial concerns, please book a ¼ hour ‘Quick Query’ telephone appointment with Student Finance and Welfare – you can book this via MyGateway 

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

    Please refer to the other information in this Frequently Asked Questions page for helpful advice.

    If you still feel that you need to speak to someone about your financial concerns, please book a ¼ hour ‘Quick Query’ telephone 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:

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

    Please refer to the other information in this Frequently Asked Questions page for helpful advice.

    If you still feel that you need to speak to someone about your financial concerns, please book a ¼ hour ‘Quick Query’ telephone appointment with Student Finance and Welfare – you can book this via MyGateway 

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

  4. Is the DMU Support Fund still open?

    The 'DMU Support Fund 2020/21' closed in June 2021.

    We will launch the 'DMU Support Fund 2021/22' in October 2021 - there will be significant changes to the Fund, so please don't expect the same level of support as in previous years. Please refer to the Support Fund web page. We will update the web page with the changes when the Fund is launched.

Student funding

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

    Students who started in 2020/21 may have needed to apply as EU students for a Tuition Fee loan only, if they were not able to show they met the migrant worker status. If they can show they are working in the future, they can apply for a review.

  2. 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 2020/21 the maximum amounts are £7,747 for students living at home with parents while studying (prior to the lockdown), or £9,203 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.

    Applications for 2020/21 are 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

  1. Will banks still increase the interest on my current account overdraft to 40%?

    Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, banks were changing their policy on overdrafts to increase interest charges to 40% from 6th April 2020 (student accounts with agreed overdraft limits would continue to be 0%).

    All banks offered the first £500 of approved overdrafts interest free in the first lockdown. It wasn't automatic and you had to apply online. They proposed there shouldn't be financial penalties or charges for doing so and it wouldn't affect your credit score. Please check your bank's current policy - in January 2021, some banks (Lloyds, Halifax, Bank of Scotland, Santander) have re-introduced the £500 overdraft facility for 3 months, but you had to apply for this by 31st January 2021, as it wasn't automatic.

    The FCA proposed that after the previous agreements came to an end, there should be tailored help, but new 'tailored' agreements made with the lender would go on the customer's credit file.

    You could look at other ways of lessening the impact, e.g:

    • if you get paid monthly, move any direct debits to the end of the month after you get paid so you're not overdrawn for so long
    • try to pay a bit of the overdraft amount off each month
    • research zero per cent money transfer credit card, BUT, be careful, if you have a poor credit score it is not advisable to do this, and there would most likely be a transfer fee.

  2. 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, which was later extended for a further 3 months. Do not cancel your payments without contacting the lender. This won’t affect your credit file but it can have an impact on your credit worthiness:

    • Credit cards
    • Store cards
    • Personal loans
    • Catalogue debts
    • Car finance (PCP, lease, HP deals)

    Applying for payment holidays ended on 31st March 2021. If you have already been allocated the maximum 6 months, you can ask the lender for tailored support, but be aware that this new 'tailored' agreement would go on your credit report.

    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 offered a 1-month payment freeze, which included a freeze on the interest charged.

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


  1. 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 was still running and you needed to cancel your flight, if you cancelled it before 31st July 2020, BA would give you a voucher. However, if you opted for this, then BA cancelled the flight, you were not entitled to a refund. It is better to wait until nearer the time, to see if they cancel it and then claim a refund.

    • Ryanair claimed it would clear 90% of their refunds backlog by 31st July 2020
    • TUI promised to pay any outstanding refunds by end of September 2020
    • Virgin promised to pay any outstanding refunds by end of October 2020.
  2. Can I get a refund on my annual travel insurance?

    Some companies, including AXA, Churchill, Direct Line, offered a refund (calculated pro rata) for the first lockdown, on what was left on the policy, as long as you didn't claimed on the policy and you were not going to use it for the rest of the year in 2020.

    From 18th May 2020, 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. Applying for payment holidays ended on 31st March 2021.

  3. 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. Contact the travel company to find out how to claim it back.
  4. 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 2020, you were automatically given a 6-month extension to get it done. You were still be able to drive the car, as long as it was road-worthy.

    From 1st August 2020 onwards, MOTs are compulsory. Garages and MOT test centres will remain open during the current lockdown, so you must get your MOT done as no extensions will be granted. But remember, you should only be using your car for essential travel, as per the government’s guidelines.

  5. Can I get my motor insurance/ road tax refunded?

    Admiral Insurance (which includes Bell, Diamond and Elephant) provided 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. It should have been automatically credited to your account by the end of May 2020.

    From 18th May 2020, 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. Applying for payment holidays ended on 31st March 2021.

    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.

  6. 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 launched a 'Fix Your Bike Voucher Scheme' in the summer of 2020 but all vouchers in the first and second releases have been allocated.

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

  7. 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 2020 - 31st Aug 2020, 7 months was automatically added to get it renewed. If your licence expired before 1st Feb 2020, you 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

  1. 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 1st April 2020, it was increased (by £15) to a £45 limit.

    In March 2021, the Treasury has confirmed that the limit on a single payment using contactless card technology will rise to £100 later this year.

  2. How can I return an item purchased in store during lockdown?

    During the first lockdown in March 2020, a lot of retail extended the dates in their returns policy to allow for this. Please check the company's website to find out what they are stating now, during the current lockdown.
  3. 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 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.
  4. Is it cheaper to buy a re-usable or a single-use face masks?

    There are good and bad points for both options.

    Re-usable fabric face masks:

    • it should be machine-washed daily at 60 degrees/ or by hand in the hottest water you can stand with detergent
    • fabric masks still have a shelf life and won't last forever
    • a purchased one might say on the label how many washes it will take before it becomes less effective
    • don't microwave it; don't just wipe it with hand sanitiser; don't soak it with disinfectant as inhaling this could make you ill
    • using a steam iron is uneven and doesn't lift the contaminants away from the fabric
    • be wary of buying fake designer masks as they may have used cheap ineffective fabric with dyes that shouldn't be inhaled.

    Single-use masks:

    • these are intended to only be used once, then ensure you dispose of them responsibly
    • these aren't considered to be good for the environment, but you do need to factor in the green impact of the correct cleaning method of re-usable fabric masks (listed above)
    • the cost per item is much lower than a re-usable fabric mask, but you need to purchase enough for daily use, which can mount up.

    Ultimately, whichever option you chose, you need to make sure that the mask needs to be effective either by the cleaning methods mentioned or by purchasing reputable single-use masks.

Contacting Student Finance and Welfare

  1. 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. You can also follow us on social media: