Home finance What England's second lockdown means for your finances

What England's second lockdown means for your finances


With England going into another lockdown on Thursday, the Treasury and the City regulator have stepped in to offer support for people who are not able to work while businesses are closed down.

Schemes to prevent people falling behind on mortgage and loan repayments, and to help cover their wages, are being extended.

What help is there for workers struggling to pay their mortgage?

The UK government’s mortgage payments holiday scheme, which has allowed householders a six-month payments deferral, was due to end on Saturday 31 October but this has been extended to help people who will not be able to work during lockdown.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is working with lenders on the small print but the watchdog has proposed that borrowers who have not yet had a payment deferral will be able to request one.

Also, those who have deferred payments for less than six months will be able to ask for an extension. In total, borrowers will be able to stop payments for up to six months. After that they will need to come to another arrangement with their lender.

As before, interest will continue to build up during the deferral period and at some point you will face either higher monthly repayments or, if your lender allows, will need to extend your mortgage term. A deferral may not be the best option for you, so ask your lender about your options before you decide.

What about other loans?

Woman planning home budget and using calculator.

Consumers are concerned about their finances because of a looming second coronavirus lockdown in England. Photograph: Skynesher/Getty Images

Again, the repayment holidays that were due to stop on Saturday have been extended. The FCA says that it wants lenders to offer deferrals for up to six months “unless it is obviously not in the customer’s interests”.

For high-cost short-term borrowing – payday loans, for example – borrowers can ask for a month’s respite if they have not already had a payment break.

The FCA says consumers should not contact their lenders yet and will hear from them once the plans are confirmed.

My employer is going to shut – can I be furloughed again?

Yes. The furlough scheme was due to be replaced by the far less generous job support scheme (JSS) on 1 November. Instead, furlough will continue and will pay up to 80% of workers’ wages – up to £2,500 a month – until December.

To be eligible for the extension, employees must have been on the payroll on 30 October 2020.

I have a short break booked in the UK in November – will I get a refund?

The Competition and Markets Authority has previously stated that refunds should be paid to customers who cannot take up a service because of government regulations.

Despite this, some consumers are expected to lose out. For example, Airbnb is at odds with the CMA’s stance. It has stated that its standard cancellation terms will apply to all bookings made after March, meaning that some people will lose up to half their money. The company keeps its booking fee if the consumer cancels. Better to let the host cancel, in which case you are entitled to a full refund.

I was due to travel abroad – what happens to me?

Maspalomas beach

Are you entitled to a refund for a holiday booking? Photograph: Valery Bareta/Alamy

After the Canary Islands were added to the no-quarantine list last week, November bookings for the destination soared as people tried to grab some last-minute sun. If you are due to fly before Wednesday night, you can still go. Trips that were due to depart from Thursday onwards are off and whether you receive a refund will depend on how you booked the trip.

Those who booked a package tour will have that trip cancelled and will be entitled to a full refund under the package tour regulations.

If you booked your own flight and accommodation, it is looking far less certain. If your flight is cancelled by the airline you can ask for a refund but if it is going ahead you may not get your money back. On Monday, Ryanair announced that it would not be refunding customers who do not get on flights it is still running.

Few travel insurance policies are paying out for the cancellation of trips booked after mid-March, when the coronavirus pandemic became a “known event”.

Can I still move house?

Yes. This time the housing market has not been put into lockdown – the housing secretary has said estate agents and removal firms can continue to operate, and tenants and homeowners can still move.


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