Financial Support and Advice

If you need help with money

If you require and information around financial support and assistance you can visit:

https://www.solihull.gov.uk/benefits

https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/benefits

These websites cover housing benefits, council tax support, welfare, debt managing and budgeting.

The Citizens Advice Bureau can also offer advice and support regarding finances:

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/if-you-cant-pay-your-bills-because-of-coronavirus/

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/coronavirus-check-what-benefits-you-can-get/

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy/energy-supply/get-help-paying-your-bills/you-cant-afford-to-top-up-your-prepayment-meter/

If you are struggling with mortgage payments or rental payments, we have also included additional information entitled ‘Help for Mortgages’ and ‘Help for Renters’ below:

 

Help for mortgages 

If keeping up with your bills and food on the table may be a challenge, speak to your bank. On Tuesday 17 March, banks agreed with the Chancellor that they will offer 'forbearance' (tolerance and help) on mortgages.

This means they all should offer those struggling a three-month 'holiday', allowing customers a temporary break from having to make mortgage payments during this time. (Though it's worth noting this is a voluntary agreement with banks – it isn't compulsory for them to offer mortgage holidays.)

If you are going to apply for a mortgage holiday, it's best to do it online where possible, as phone lines are likely to have huge backlogs.

The first step should be to contact your lender and tell them you are experiencing payment difficulties. There will be a fast track approval process in place and you won’t be required to provide evidence or have an affordability test. So, you should get a quick decision. Although any unpaid interest will probably still need to be paid back you won’t have to worry about any additional fees or charges. Individual credit ratings should not be affected but if you are worried you should speak with your lender.

It’s likely the lender will spread your outstanding payments over the outstanding term of your mortgage, so you will see an increase in your future monthly mortgage payments. The shorter the term left on your mortgage, the larger the increase in your monthly payments, once the mortgage payment holiday is over. You should consider the impact this will have on your future financial commitments

Being currently behind with your mortgage payments does not exclude you from applying for a mortgage holiday if this is appropriate for your circumstances. Those worried about repossession should not be at risk of losing their homes during this period but do speak with your lender. If you have a mortgage with an unregulated or inactive lender and would not normally fall under the scope of these changes, it is understood your provider will adopt this guidance on a voluntary basis.

 

Help for renters 

You'll be protected from eviction in the coming months

If you'll struggle to pay rent during the coronavirus outbreak you should speak to your landlord as soon as possible to let them know your situation and work out a repayment plan.

It's also worth checking whether you're receiving all the financial help with housing you're entitled to, which could come from benefits such as universal credit.

The Government has also now announced that landlords won't be able to start eviction proceedings for at least the next three months, protecting private and social tenants (and private landlords can be given a three-month payment holiday on their buy-to-let mortgages if their tenants are experiencing financial difficulties due to coronavirus). It's introducing emergency legislation for this, though it's not yet clear when this will come into force.

Beyond this three-month point, you'll be expected to work with your landlord to establish an affordable repayment plan which takes your circumstances into account.

The Government has also said that existing protocols for social landlords dealing with rent arrears will be extended to include private landlords too, to "support engagement" between landlords and tenants and help them solve disputes. It will ask landlords to be compassionate and allow tenants to stay in their homes wherever possible – while associations representing local government and housing associations have already said that no social renter should be evicted due to coronavirus.

 

Universal credit advice

How to claim

You need to apply for Universal Credit online. You have to apply as a couple if you and your partner live together. You do not need to be married.

 

What you need to apply

You’ll need:

• your bank, building society or credit union account details (call the Universal Credit helpline if you do not have one)

• an email address

• information about your housing, for example how much rent you pay

• details of your income, for example payslips

• details of savings and any investments, like shares or a property that you rent out

• details of how much you pay for childcare if you’re applying for help with childcare costs

 

If you do not provide the right information when you apply it might affect when you get paid or how much you get.

You also must verify your identity online. You’ll need some proof of identity for this, for example your:

• driving licence

• passport

• debit or credit card

 

If you cannot verify your identity online, you can take 3 forms of proof of identity to your local Jobcentre Plus (this may now be different during lockdown). For example, your:

• permanent residence card

• UK registration or naturalisation certificate

• council tax documents

 

If you have an interview booked, you do not need to go to it at the moment because of coronavirus (COVID-19). The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will contact you to let you know what you need to do instead.

 

Help with your application

If you need help with your application, ask straight away - the sooner you apply for Universal Credit, the sooner you get your first payment.

There are 2 ways to get help with your Universal Credit application.

 

WAY 1: Universal Credit helpline

Contact the Universal Credit helpline if:

• you cannot use digital services at all, this might be due to disability or your circumstances

• you have a question about your claim and cannot access your online claim

 

Universal Credit helpline telephone number: 0800 328 5644

NGT text relay – if you cannot hear or speak on the phone: 18001 then 0800 328 5644

Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Open: Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

 

WAY 2: Help to Claim

Help to Claim can support you in the early stages of your Universal Credit claim, from the online application, through to support with your application before your first full payment.

It’s a free, independent, confidential and impartial service provided by trained advisers from Citizens Advice. They can help with things like how to gather evidence for your application or how to prepare for your first Jobcentre appointment.

You can contact an adviser through our free national Help to Claim phone service:

England: 0800 144 8 444

England textphone: 18001 0800 144 8 444

Advisers are available 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday