BRITS who have been granted extra help and cash to get themselves through Covid will be losing out on hundreds from today.
Six support schemes have either ended or are due to end today, from the Government’s green homes grant scheme to sick pay ending for workers shielding.
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We explain all you need to know about the changes:
1. Green homes grant scheme
The Government announced last week that it was ditching its green homes grant scheme.
Brits will no longer be able to apply for the scheme after 5pm today.
Under the scheme, households could apply for up to £5,000 in Government help to install extra insulation, eco-friendly boilers, or even draft-proofing and double glazing.
It was officially rolled out in September last year, but has been axed just six months later, with the Government claiming it was only “designed to provide a short-term economic boost”.
However, you will still receive your vouchers if you’ve already been awarded them.
But many Brits will already have missed out on bagging the vouchers.
MoneySavingExpert deputy editor Guy Anker told The Sun that families may lose out on securing the cash – even if they act now.
This is because Brits must first find a certified tradesperson to inspect the work that needs doing, get a quote from them, and then use this information to apply online – and it’s unlikely you can do this before the deadline.
2. Sick pay axed for shielding Brits
Shielding Brits who have stayed at home but have been unable to work can return to work again from today.
This is because all vulnerable Brits have been offered the coronavirus jab.
But from tomorrow, you’ll no longer be able to claim statutory sick pay on the basis that you’re shielding.
However, you can still get statutory sick pay if you’re self-isolating because of Covid.
3. Covid payment holidays
After today, Brits will no longer be able to apply for a payment holiday on mortgages, loans, and other forms of debt.
You can apply for a payment holiday for six types of debts, which are:
- Mortgage payments
- Credit card bills
- Buy now, pay later repayments
- Car finance holidays
- High-cost short term credit holidays
- Pawnbroking holidays.
Payment holidays offer breathing space if you’re struggling financially – but they should only be taken if you really need one.
How to cut the cost of your debt
IF you’re in large amounts of debt it can be really worrying. Here are some tips from Citizens Advice on how you can take action.
Check your bank balance on a regular basis – knowing your spending patterns is the first step to managing your money
Work out your budget – by writing down your income and taking away your essential bills such as food and transport
If you have money left over, plan in advance what else you’ll spend or save. If you don’t, look at ways to cut your costs
Pay off more than the minimum – If you’ve got credit card debts aim to pay off more than the minimum amount on your credit card each month to bring down your bill quicker
Pay your most expensive credit card sooner – If you have more than one credit card and can’t pay them off in full each month, prioritise the most expensive card (the one with the highest interest rate)
Prioritise your debts – If you’ve got several debts and you can’t afford to pay them all it’s important to prioritise them
Your rent, mortgage, council tax and energy bills should be paid first because the consequences can be more serious if you don’t pay
Get advice – If you’re struggling to pay your debts month after month it’s important you get advice as soon as possible, before they build up even further
Groups like Citizens Advice and National Debtline can help you prioritise and negotiate with your creditors to offer you more affordable repayment plans
A payment break taken as part of the coronavirus proposals won’t be reported on borrowers’ credit files.
But lenders can still see whether you’ve paused any payments through other methods, like Open Banking, which could affect any future borrowing.
MoneySavingExpert has previously warned that taking a payment break may actually stop you from getting a mortgage, even though they won’t affect your credit score.
4. Help to Buy loan scheme
The Government’s Help to Buy scheme ends in its current form today, which means that your sale must have gone through by the end of the day in order to benefit from the scheme.
Anyone who doesn’t complete in time will have to apply for the new reformed Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme which will be available from tomorrow (April 1).
It is already open to new applicants, and like the old scheme, the Government will still lend you up to 20% – or 40% in London – of the cost of a new-build home.
But from loans will be capped at 1.5 times the average first-time buyer property price by region in England, rather than a nationwide limit of up to £500,000.
It will also only be open to first-time buyers who are able to stump up a deposit worth 5% of the property value.
5. Cold weather payments
Brits won’t be able to get cold weather payments, worth up to £25 a week, from tomorrow as the scheme closes to new claims today.
When temperatures are recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees or below for seven consecutive days on average between November 1 and March 31, eligible Brits are entitled to extra money to heat their homes.
You get £25 for every seven day period where the weather is below 0C during this time frame.
The payments end today – however, they’ll kick in again on November 1 when the chilly weather makes a return.
You’re eligible for the cold weather payment scheme if you’re in receipt of one of the following benefits and meet certain criteria:
- Pension credit
- Income support
- Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
- Income-related employment and support allowance
- Universal Credit
- Support for mortgage interest
6. Landlords face tighter rules and £30,000 fine
A new law which has ramped up safety rules for landlords renting out homes to Brits will come into force tomorrow.
Landlords must now make sure a qualified electrician has checked all wires and sockets in their properties before renting it out to a new tenant.
They must also make sure electrics continue to be inspected at least once every five years, although the regulations won’t be extended to social housing.
If landlords fail to stick to the rules, then they’ll face a £30,000 fine.
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