Dealing with financial difficulties during coronavirus: information for consumers

If you've taken a mortgage payment holiday, a payment freeze or had a temporary reduction in the cost of your overdraft to help you cope during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, find out what you can do to help yourself get back on track.

If you're concerned about managing your money during coronavirus, or if your income has been affected by the pandemic, there are some steps you can take to help.

Find out more about:

If you are thinking about whether a mortgage payment holiday, a payment freeze or a reduced payment is right for you, the Money Advice Service’s Money Navigator Tool will help you access the right information.

Managing your financial situation

If you are coming to the end of a full or partial payment freeze, nearing the end of a mortgage payment holiday period, or the cost of your overdraft is changing, make sure you know what happens next. If you’re not sure, contact the organisations you make payments to, to agree a way forward with them.

To start managing your situation, first make a list of all the organisations you make payments to. 

Record how much you pay them and whether you have fallen behind on any payments. This includes essential household bills such as electricity and gas, as well as loans and any other debts or repayments you may have.

If you find this too difficult, a debt adviser can help you for free. Find out more about some of the organisations you can contact for help.

It’s important you are clear about which of your debts are priority debts. Some debts will be more urgent than others, because the consequences of not paying them can be more serious. These may include your:

  • mortgage or rent
  • council tax/ rates
  • gas or electricity arrears

The Money Advice Service has useful information on how to prioritise your debts.

Working out a budget

Once you know which debts are priority, you can work out a budget. 

This will help you understand how much money you have to pay your commitments as you go forward. 

You might want to use a budget tool, such as the Money Advice Service online budget planner, or a tool provided by a debt adviser to help you.

If you are worried about being able to make future payments, it’s important to contact the organisations you make payments to and let them know. They may be able to talk to you about options for changing how or when you pay.

For more information on managing your money during and after the coronavirus pandemic, visit the Money Advice Service’s Money Navigator Tool. Or, contact the Money Advice Service for help and useful information about what taking out a payment freeze might mean for you.

Impact on your credit file

Under our guidance, firms should not report a worsening status to credit files if you take a payment freeze or a mortgage payment holiday.

This should help make sure that there is no long-term negative impact on your credit file if you are able to get back on track at the end of a payment freeze or a mortgage payment holiday. 

However, this does not mean that credit scores will not change over this period, as these are influenced by a wide range of factors.

You should also remember that credit files aren’t the only source of information that lenders can use in lending decisions. Factors other than payment history may also be relevant. 

For example, lenders may take into account your bank account information, or consider your use of credit products or how much you are in debt, when making a lending decision. 

Your lender should provide you with general information about the potential impact of a payment freeze or a mortgage payment holiday on any future lending decisions. 

It is also important to remember that the protection to your credit file will not continue indefinitely. If your payment freeze or mortgage payment holiday comes to an end and you do not make a payment under the terms agreed with your lender, it is likely that your credit file will be negatively affected.

Getting help

If you’re finding it hard to keep up with payments, or if you’re having trouble managing your debts, you should think about getting free help and advice. 

Your rights and options depend on the type of agreement you have with your lender, and the law can be complex. However, you can get free independent help and advice from several organisations

Debt advisers can help with working out your budget and, if necessary and possible, re-arranging your repayments with your lenders.

Organisations that offer help and advice

You can contact these organisations for free, confidential and impartial debt advice.

Money Advice Service: Free, easy-to-use money tools, information and advice. You can also phone 0800 138 7777 to speak to a money expert, use typetalk at 18001 0800 915 4622, or add +44 7701 342744 to your WhatsApp to send a message.

Citizens Advice: Advice and information on debt and other topics.

AdviceUK: Member centres offer debt advice, including specialist advice for minority communities and people with disabilities. 

Christians Against Poverty: Free debt advice for people of any faith or none. To check if they cover your postcode call 0800 328 0006.

National Debtline: If you live in England, Wales or Scotland phone 0808 808 4000 or visit its website for debt advice and information.

StepChange Debt Charity: Free debt advice throughout the UK phone 0800 138 1111 or visit the website.

Money Advice Scotland: If you live in Scotland. You can use webchat to speak to an adviser, or email [email protected].

Citizens Advice Scotland: For advice and information on debt and other topics, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or call the helpline on 0800 028 1456.

Advice NI: If you live in Northern Ireland, phone 0800 028 1881, email [email protected] or visit the website. 

Citizens Advice Wales: If you live in Wales, visit the website, or call Advicelink on 03444 77 20 20 if you want to speak to someone about your debts. Calls cost the same as calls to landline numbers.

Business Debtline: If you are self-employed or a small business owner, phone 0800 197 6026 or visit the website for debt advice and information.

Other useful organisations

Legal Aid advice: You may get legal aid if your home is at risk. Check the website or phone 0845 345 4345. 

Financial Ombudsman Service: If you have a complaint about a loan that you can’t resolve with your lender, the Financial Ombudsman Service may be able to help. Visit its website or phone 0300 123 9123 or 0800 023 4567.