Finance, housing and unemployment worries during the coronavirus pandemic

Page last reviewed: 17 December 2021

The Mental Health Foundation is part of the national mental health response during the coronavirus outbreak. Government advice designed to keep us safe is under constant review and will be different depending on where you live: more details and up to date information here.

Many of us are facing daily challenges relating to the coronavirus pandemic – both in terms of health and also our finances, job security, housing and caring responsibilities.

It may seem today that the problems you’re facing with your bills, your landlord, your childcare or your job are unsolvable.

But there are solutions out there – from the government, from our communities, and from the businesses in our lives. This page can help you find the support you need right now.

For a range of financial and consumer advice, you can contact Citizens Advice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland or Scotland. They have a national Adviceline you can call on 03444 111 444 (text relay: 03444 111 445).

Financial worries

Use the time you’re at home to work through your finances

Using a budget tool to redo your household budget while you’re spending more time at home could be useful. Remember that while you may be spending more on groceries and heating bills, you may be saving money by not spending on things like transport and socialising. Factor that in when looking at your budget.

Find out what help you might be entitled to

The government is offering a range of measures to support people financially. Visit the Gov.uk page about coronavirus and click on the ‘work and support’ section to find out about help you could get whether you’re an employee, self-employed or not in work. Additional financial support is now also available for people living in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who are on a low income and have been asked to self-isolate.

Reach out for help and advice from services like MoneyHelper, Stepchange or National Debtline – they have coronavirus advice for England and Wales and for Scotland. In Northern Ireland, contact Advice NI.

Debt and money advice varies across the UK, so make sure you find the appropriate service for your nation.

Find out if you’re entitled to any benefits. You might be surprised to find out what you’re eligible for, even if you have savings. Our page on welfare benefits is a good starting point. Use the free EntitledTo online benefit calculator to see what you could claim.

Keep connected and look after yourself

Don't keep it in – talk to family or friends if you can.

Look after your sleep, your diet, and other basics. Try to avoid drinking excessively and if you are a smoker try to give up or cut down – it will help you financially and reduce your risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 if you develop it.

Look at what is available in your community

There may be formal and informal support available in your community. For example:

  • Food banks: visit the Trussell Trust website to find your nearest food bank and how to get a referral to it
  • Free school meals: if you have children, and they are entitled to free school meals, take them – your school will be in touch about how to access this service
  • Mutual aid groups: your local group may offer help with errands and emotional support.

Your local council may also know of community support groups in your area.

Check your insurance policies

Life cover, critical illness cover, mortgage insurance and even home insurance sometimes offer legal advice or cover that could help.

If you have a mortgage or other major commitment, speak to your lenders as early as possible if you’re having difficulty with repayments. They may be able to help – for example, by extending the mortgage term or asking you to repay what you owe at a later date.

Think about groups you might be a member of

Are you a member of a trade union or does your sector have a benevolent charity? Charities such as Hospitality ActionThe Charity for Civil Servants or the Lighthouse Club for construction workers offer financial help to current and former workers in need of support. Use the grants search on the Turn2Us website to find out what you could claim.

Beware of scams

Use a reputable source such as the gov.uk website or organisations linked above. Never respond to unsolicited messages (texts, calls or emails) that ask for your personal or financial information.

Being unemployed or getting less work than usual

It can be very hard if your working circumstances change – whether you’re let go, given fewer shifts, or your work drops if you are self-employed. Start by checking whether you’re entitled to extra money. Read the section above about the help you might be entitled to. Don’t assume you won’t be eligible for anything – you might be surprised about what you can claim.

If you’ve been made redundant or given fewer shifts , try and keep in touch with colleagues. Demand may increase again, and you find yourself re-employed in future. If you live on your own, keeping those social connections with your colleagues can be so important.

If you are used to a very physical job, try and keep up the exercise. A sudden change can hit your moods quickly.

For information about your rights at work, visit Acas.

If you are self-employed, try reaching out to your normal networks about work opportunities, or see if you can connect with others locally through business forums. It’s an uncertain time but your skills will be needed again.

The more we adjust to living and working differently, the more that employers may be looking for staff.  Think about how your skills transfer – and if you’re able, consider doing something else for a while.

Remember, you can always consider applying for Universal Credit if your income has been impacted by coronavirus. You can find out more on Gov.uk

Housing

While many of us find ourselves spending more time at home, living in poor housing or having difficulties paying our mortgage or rent can be doubly hard.

If you have a mortgage and your income is reduced, speak to your lender about a payment holiday. This allows you to temporarily stop or reduce your mortgage repayments.  

If you are a tenant and struggling to pay your rent, speak to your landlord as soon as possible, Explain why you’re finding it hard to pay and ask if they’ll give you extra time.

Find out more about your rights as a homeowner or tenant from:

Remember, these are times that we have not seen before in peacetime. A lot of us will be affected in lots of ways. But keeping calm, checking your options, seeking advice and working through your possibilities will help you come up with a plan. There are helplines available and people willing to support you. We will get through this together.

We need your support to keep providing vital information during this time.

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If you want to develop a personalised plan for supporting your mental health you can visit the Every Mind Matters site, developed in collaboration with the Mental Health Foundation.

If you need to talk confidentially you can call Samaritans on 116 123 at any time. We also have a resource on how to get help for your mental health.