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Our freephone helpline is operating as usual. If you need support during these incredibly difficult times, please call us on 0800 093 8543 or complete the contact form here and we will contact you as soon as possible.
During the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic it’s wise to follow all government advice and it’s also natural to be concerned about your own health, your ability to continue working and supporting family members. This is a time when we need to work together.
Last updated 7th January 2021. Please check for updates.
You will find information here to support you through these uncertain times:
NHS advice and steps to keep healthy is available here.
The government advice for each part of the United Kingdom is different:
We can give you advice on accessing government support, help you to understand your financial situation and work with you to manage your finances. We can also provide financial assistance to cover essential items, particularly food and heating.
Perennial’s help and support is free and confidential and during this difficult period we are here to help you access the statutory services and assistance you need. We will all need different types of advice and help so please call us in confidence on 0800 093 8543 or complete the contact form and we will get back to you. Our office hours are Monday and Wednesday 10am – 5pm and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9am – 5pm.
Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your finances? If so, please visit our Benefits Advice and Money Advice pages for information and advice. We appreciate it’s not always easy to navigate through these difficult times so please give our team a call on 0800 093 8543. We will review your situation, advise on all the options available and then work to put your chosen option into place.
Looking after your mental wellbeing is just as important as looking after your physical and financial health, especially during uncertain times. In times of increased stress, seeking help and support from others can be a real help. Click here to find out more about our online mental health community, as well as other organisations offering information and support on mental health.
Looking after your emotional and mental wellbeing is just as important as looking after your physical and financial health, especially during uncertain times. If you’re finding things hard emotionally right now, you are not alone. In times of increased stress, seeking help and support from others can be a real help.
If you are stressed, anxious or need a place to talk – join our online mental health and wellbeing community provided through our partnership with Togetherall. It is accessible anytime, anywhere. It’s important to stay connected even when we have to distance ourselves socially. Stay part of a community and access our support network – click here to complete our short questionnaire to access the Togetherall support service
Here are some great charities and organisations offering information and support on mental health:
If you need urgent help for your mental wellbeing please find the latest information from the NHS.
We understand that times have been challenging for many families. Due to COVID-19 your family’s financial circumstances may have changed since the last school year and your children could now be entitled to free school meals.
With the new school year approaching we have put together information on free school meals and how to apply. You can also talk to your child’s school to find out what support is available directly from them.
The government advice for each part of the United Kingdom is different. For more information about the support available and how to apply please click below:
At this current time, it is important to follow the current government guidelines for your own circumstances and location. Each country of the United Kingdom has issued guidance on whether it is safe to work. Please visit the relevant page for information and advice. Remember that this guidance might change, so please check back regularly:
If you currently work in horticulture and do need to stop working, Perennial can give information and help you access the Government support which is being put in place, help you make arrangements to reduce or delay bill payments including credit debts where necessary and provide financial assistance to cover essential items, particularly food and heating.
Carers play a vital role in looking after those who are most vulnerable in our communities and COVID-19 has increased the challenges faced by many. The Social Care Institute for Excellence provides great advice for carers through an expert panel.
Helen Whately MP, Minister of State for Social Care has this advice:
“If urgent care needs cannot be met, for example family carers become unwell and need to isolate, please contact your Local Authority for help.
Both Carers UK and the Carers Trust have good advice on their websites. I love the idea of a Virtual Cuppa, where people can talk about the challenges of COVID-19 as well as suggesting practical steps for how to get through it. There’s excellent advice on creating a contingency or emergency plan. Even though we are in an emergency right now, it’s not too late to start a plan. For example, you can ensure that key information is made readily available for professionals.”
Paul Burstow, Chair, Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) writes:
“If you are supporting someone with dementia, the usual arrangements should still apply but it’s important to continue planning during this period of uncertainty; both with medicine – and food shopping and cooking; but also, over what activities people can take in. It’s really important that people stay active and connected with things like gentle exercises and by phone, post, email and skype. But of course, it’s vital to know what to do immediately if they do get ill, or you as a carer get ill. It’s best to leave the person the right contact numbers to call, prominently displayed, such as NHS 111 or their local GP. The Alzheimer’s Society has some excellent, detailed advice on coping with the COVID-19 outbreak.”
While the primary concern is health, your financial wellbeing is also important during these uncertain times. Perennial can help you explore all the options that are available so that you can find the financial support that best suits your situation. Our freephone helpline is operating as usual.
If you need support during these incredibly difficult times, please call us on 0800 093 8543, Monday and Wednesday 10am – 5pm and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9am – 5pm. Alternatively please complete the contact form here and we will contact you as soon as possible.
Here’s our short guide to how you can gain help from benefits during the Coronavirus pandemic.
If you are affected by the coronavirus or its effect on the economy, the government is offering a wide range of financial support.
You can find out what support is available to you by visiting the government Employment and Benefits Support website. It includes information for people who are already claiming benefits, if you need to claim or are at risk of losing your job as a result of coronavirus. This is a fast-changing situation so please check regularly for updates.
Universal credit is a benefit available to many who are employed, self-employed, unemployed and on low incomes (but usually not pensioners), provided you’ve less than £16,000 savings in your household.
Universal Credit can include help in paying your rent. Some people in receipt of tax credits or housing benefit maybe worse off by claiming Universal Credit. Seek our advice to make sure you are receiving the correct support.
Universal Credit is claimed online. Click here to find out more information.
You may be entitled to benefits if you cannot work due to coronavirus.
You may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay if you’re self-isolating for one or more of the following reasons, and you are unable to work as a result:
You cannot get SSP if you’re self-isolating after entering or returning to the UK and do not need to self-isolate for any other reason.
Click on this link to find out more information Statutory Sick Pay.
If you’re asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace and you’re on a low income, unable to work from home and will lose income as a result, you may be entitled to a payment of £500 from your local authority under the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme.
To find out if you are eligible and how to apply please click here.
You can apply for ‘new style’ ESA if you’re unable to claim Statutory Sick Pay and one of the following applies:
Click on this link to find out more information NSESA.
You may be eligible for Universal Credit if:
Click on this link to find out more information Universal Credit.
The following are reputable websites that will help you find information on various aspects of benefits:
Our freephone helpline is operating as usual. If you need support during these incredibly difficult times, please call us on 0800 093 8543 or complete our contact form here.
This information is up to date as at 7th January 2021.
Here is our short guide to money matters during the Coronavirus pandemic. We appreciate it’s not always easy to navigate through the financial support available so Perennial can help you understand your financial situation and take control of your finances.
Our team is available on 0800 093 8543, Monday and Wednesday 10am – 5pm and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9am – 5pm. Alternatively, please complete the contact form here and we will contact you as soon as possible.
In light of the pandemic, and extended restrictions, the government has extended the availability of payment deferrals (also known as payment holidays), for households experiencing financial difficulty due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This option is now available until 31st March 2021. If you haven’t previously accessed a payment deferral, or if you are part way through an agreed payment deferral it can be extended to a deferral of up to 6 months in total. Deferrals can’t exceed this, however, if you accessed a deferral previously and this help ended, you can now top it up to 6 months in total if you are struggling with payments again. During this period, no fees are being charged in connection with deferrals, but interest will continue to build (unless your lender told you otherwise) and your repayments may increase after the agreed deferral period. You are likely to end up paying more in the long term.
At the end of the deferral your lender should work with you to agree the best way of catching up the missed payments. This may include setting up a longer-term agreement, changing the terms of your mortgage or switching to an interest-only mortgage.
Mortgage lenders should ensure that payment deferrals agreed under these terms won’t have a negative impact on your credit file, but there are other ways lenders can tell whether you’ve taken a payment holiday, and this may have an impact on any future applications you make for credit. If your lender provides tailored support then this can impact your credit file and you should be made aware of this by your lender at the time of agreement.
If you can pay, your lender should look at all options to help you, including accepting a lump sum, extending your mortgage term, capitalising the missed payments, or accepting reduced payments.
If you can’t pay, your lender should work with you before you miss any future payments due and can still consider further payment breaks. Your lender should be flexible on looking at short and long-term options including whether they can suspend, reduce, waive or cancel any interest and charges.
Here are our top tips:
Where tenants are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic, the government is clear that landlords and tenants should work together and exhaust all possible options – such as flexible payment plans which take into account a tenant’s individual circumstances – to ensure cases only end up in court as an absolute last resort.
Here are our top tips:
If you need help with budgeting to pay your rent or advice on claiming benefit entitlements / Universal Credit, please get in touch with us and one of our team of qualified debt advisers will be there to help you.
The Local Government Association has reported that all local authorities in England and Wales are putting help in place for people who are facing financial hardship as a result of coronavirus. If you are suffering from hardship you may be able to get help from your local authority through a Section 13A application to reduce your liability, we are able to assist with this.
COSLA, the Scottish equivalent have said that councils there are standing by to help too.
Here are our top tips:
If you need help with budgeting to pay council tax, please get in touch with us and one of our team of qualified debt advisers will be there to help you.
OFGEM announced that from 1st July 2020 energy companies could start chasing customers for unpaid fuel bills again following a freeze on disconnections and debt collection. Energy companies have been told they must provide strong support to their customers and must make sure that debt collection practices are fair and repayment plans are affordable. If you are behind with your gas or electricity bills, our advice is to talk to your supplier, explain your situation and ask them for help.
OFGEM have also announced the following measures for suppliers to ensure those categorised as a ‘vulnerable household’ are supported. From 15th December, they must:
Did you know?
If you are on a prepayment meter and are shielding or self-isolating you can self-refer to the NHS volunteer teams by calling 0808 196 3646. They can arrange for someone to top up your meter for you. You can also ask your energy supplier for help.
Each energy supplier also keeps a record of people who may need additional assistance with their energy supply – this is known as the Priority Services Register. Should you be over pension age, living with children under 5, or suffering from a disability or long-term health condition, you should let your supplier know. There is no charge for this service.
If you are on a low income, there may also be other entitlements through the winter months to help you with your fuel bills such as the Warm Home Discount, Winter Fuel Payments, and Cold Weather Payments.
If you need help with budgeting to pay fuel bills, please get in touch with us and one of our team of qualified debt advisers will be there to help you.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the regulatory body of financial services firms, has told firms that they should offer help to people struggling with car finance due to coronavirus. If you are having difficulties meeting finance or leasing payments, and haven’t already accessed a payment break because of coronavirus, up until 31 March 2021 you can ask for a payment break of up to 6 months in total without this affecting your credit rating (although lenders have other ways to tell).
If you are already within a payment break following earlier government announcements, you will be eligible to extend this up to a total of 6 months. Although payments are on hold for these breaks, interest can still accrue and so if you are able to set up repayments again in the future your instalments might increase.
After this, if you are still having difficulties (or have found yourself in new financial difficulty) firms should work with you before any payments are missed and consider short and long-term options. Firms should not alter Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) or Personal Contract Hire (PCH) agreements in a way that is unfair. For example, firms should not try to recalculate PCP balloon payments based on a temporary depreciation of car prices caused by the coronavirus situation Options should be based on an individual’s circumstances and can include:
If you wish to keep your vehicle at the end of your PCP agreement, but you don’t have the cash to cover the balloon payment due to coronavirus-related payment difficulties, firms should work with you to find an appropriate solution.
If you are struggling to afford your insurance payments because of the impact of the coronavirus, please contact your insurer to discuss your options. Insurers have been told by the Financial Conduct Authority (the organisation that regulates financial services companies) to review policies to see if lower payments can be offered, consider whether another policy/product is more suitable, and to provide help to avoid cancelling necessary policies.. It is important that you maintain essential insurance cover and don’t leave yourself uninsured.
Our team can provide you with more information about the support available and how to put this in place.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – the firm that regulates financial services firms introduced a number of measures to help people whose income has been affected by Coronavirus. These measures were due to end on 31st October, but the FCA has issued confirmation of further support. They apply to:
Extended measures for support to those impacted by Covid-19 have been agreed to ensure that borrowers on the above agreements will still have access to payment deferrals for up to 6 months in total. Borrowers have until 31st March 2021 to apply for an initial payment deferral, and can top up previous payment deferrals to the maximum of 6 months. Interest will still accrue on accounts in the meantime and so in the long-term this could increase your repayments. You should only access a payment deferral if you are unable to continue with payments. Our team are happy to help you look at the options available..
Some lenders already have online services available to request this assistance You should not stop paying without agreeing this with your lender first as this may have a negative effect on your credit rating. If you have already agreed a payment deferral and this is coming to an end, the FCA has advised lenders that they should try to contact you to prevent missed payments.
Whilst lenders should ensure that any agreed payment deferrals from government support won’t have a negative impact on your credit filethere are other ways lenders can tell whether you’ve taken a payment break. This may have an impact on any future applications you make for credit. At the end of any payment breaks agreed through government support measures, lenders will be expected to use normal reporting processes in relation to credit files and should be clear with customers about the impact any arrangement or deferral might have on their credit file.
Lenders can also consider suspending, reducing, waiving, cancelling and freezing interest/charges as part of a repayment arrangement but it will be up to them to decide this. If you were already finding it difficult to manage your payments before the Coronavirus, our debt team can help you to explore your debt options.
Here are our top tips for dealing with debt:
If you are worried about your debts, or can’t contact your lenders yourself, contact our help line and one of our team of qualified Debt Advisers will be there to help you.
The Insolvency Service has published Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance which allows for flexibility to be applied to IVAs where the borrower has problems because of Coronavirus. This currently applies until April 2021 but this date is subject to change.
The guidance says if you have either a reduction in income or an increase in expenses – you may be able to reduce payments by up to 50% and to take payment holidays for up to six months without a variation being required (this will be reviewed at a three month interval).
This extra payment break is in addition to the standard IVA provisions. So if you have already used up nine months of payment breaks you may still be able to get an extra three months.
Payment breaks are just added onto the end of your IVA, so you will be paying the same amount in the end.
After a brief suspension of bailiffs enforcing debts during Covid-19 restrictions, the Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA) announced plans for a ‘phased return of activity’. From 24th August 2020 local authorities and courts can use bailiffs to enforce overdue council tax, business rates, parking and traffic penalties and magistrates’ court fines.
Anyone whose account had been passed to Bailiff’s prior to the lockdown in March 2020, that has missed a payment or been out of contact, should have received a standard letter asking them how they have been affected by the Covid-19 crisis.
Individuals should have been given 30 days’ notice of a visit by an enforcement agent (unless the local authority had specific requirements). Enforcement agents have been issued guidance on social distancing and preventing transmission for when they do carry out visits, and must abide by local government restrictions Due to a backlog in court systems, new debts from local authorities have not have been processed yet.
If you have any debts which are already with bailiffs, we urge you to contact us as soon as possible for advice on dealing with the debt.
Our freephone helpline is operating as usual. If you need support during these incredibly difficult times, please call us on 0800 093 8543 or complete our contact form here.
We provide free and confidential advice, support and financial assistance to people of all ages working in, or retired from horticulture.
We understand this is a very unsettling and difficult time for self-employed people in horticulture. You can find the full guidance on the Self Employed Income Support Scheme here Gov.uk/self-employment-income-support-scheme. Please keep checking this website for the latest information. In the meantime, check the measures already in place to see if they can help, including deferring tax payments.
We can help you access the statutory support that is already available such as New Style Employment Support Allowance if you’re sick. Don’t forget you may be able to access financial support through Universal Credit. Universal credit is a benefit available to many who are employed, self-employed, unemployed and on low incomes (but usually not pensioners), provided you’ve less than £16,000 savings in your household.
We can help you explore all the options that are available at present to find the support that best suits your situation.
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