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Live Better Blog: How are you coping?

It’s been an incredibly tough month, to say the least.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused global disruption, and many people’s livelihoods have been displaced as a result.

Throughout all of this, we’re still here for you.

Following the recent government announcements on the current COVID-19 outbreak within the UK, we want to let you know that MoneyPlus remains available for you, and our services, including MoneyPlus Energy, MoneyPlus Telecoms, MoneyPlus Advice and MoneyPlus Legal, will continue to function as normal.

We’re fully prepared for any eventuality, so you can rest assured that we’re still here if you need us!

If you need to get in touch with us, you can call 0161 837 4000 between 9am-5pm Monday to Friday, or email info@moneyplus.com and one of our friendly team members will get back to you as soon as possible.

Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about the pandemic and its effects on your finances, and (most importantly) tips on keeping your mental health at its best during this uncertain time.

Have a read. And just know that things will get better.

 

Energy advice.

We know there’s a lot of people worrying about paying their energy bills at the moment, and it can be confusing to know just where to turn to get the correct information.

We’ve put together a free energy advice guide that tells you all you need to know about how to get help from your energy supplier if you’re struggling to pay your energy bills, or are worried about topping-up your pre-payment meter.

This guide is for anyone and everyone, regardless of which energy supplier you are with, so please share it with anyone you know who may be worrying about their energy bills.

 

Something for the kids.

From 20th April, you’ll be able to access regular daily school lessons in English and Maths, as well as other core subjects, in an expanded version of the BBC Bitesize website and also on special programmes broadcast on BBC iPlayer and BBC Red Button.

BBC iPlayer and the Red Button service will host Bitesize Daily, which will contain six different 20-minute shows, each designed to target students from ages five to 14 throughout the UK.

For older students, BBC Four is also teaming up with Red Button for evening programmes to support the GCSE and A Level curriculum, and BBC Sounds will be launching podcasts aimed at primary and secondary pupils. The 10-minute daily shows will link with other learning content on Bitesize.

In addition to the free BBC education, Minecraft, the popular online video game, is offering free lessons to children who aren’t able to attend school due to closures during the coronavirus pandemic.

The lessons offer various puzzles, games, and tours of historic sites, and each lesson can be downloaded for free until the end of June.

You can find a full list of Minecraft’s educational lessons here.

 

Help wanted.

Thousands have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, but some companies, such as supermarkets and home care businesses, are looking for workers to help support the surge in demand.

Major supermarkets are on the lookout for 35,000 additional workers to help manage the increase in home deliveries and shelf stocking, and home care company, Cera, has just added an extra 10,000 jobs to its rota, asking for people to become part of the home carer community.

Lloyds Pharmacy is also seeking 1,500 extra workers across the country, and Virgin Media is looking for 500 extra people to work in their Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester and Teesside sites.

If your job has been affected and you’d like to find out more about the vacancies listed above (and how to apply), just click here.

 

MOT extension.

Many drivers have been worried about the renewal of their MOT testing due to car garages being closed during the pandemic.

To alleviate this, the government has granted car owners an exemption of six months for MOT testing for those whose MOT expires after 30th March.

This exemption will apply to cars, motorbikes and vans that are kept in a roadworthy condition.

If your MOT expired before 30th March, you will not be eligible for the extension.

 

Help for the self-employed.

The government previously announced 80% wage subsidies for staff who are furloughed by their employers, but that left many self-employed people wondering what support would be offered to them.

There are around five million self-employed people who generate around £300bn for the UK economy, so financial support is imperative for this part of the working population.

The government announced that those who are self-employed who earn £50,000 a year or less (which is about 95% of self-employed people) can receive 80% of their earnings up to a maximum of £2,500 a month for three months.

It’s been estimated that payments are set to be made to around 3.8 million self-employed people in the UK.

The grant is equivalent to that offered to salaried workers however, there’s a catch… Those who apply for the self-employment financial support scheme must be earning at least 50% of their income from self-employment (not including wages taken as dividends), and must wait until June to receive their money – although it will be backdated to March.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said, “HMRC are working on this urgently and expect people to be able to access this scheme no later than from the beginning of June.”

Below, you can find a full list of government support available to those who have been financially affected by coronavirus.

 

Government support for workers and businesses.

Income subsidies.
Direct cash grants for self-employed people, worth 80% of average profits, up to £2,500 a month. There are similar wage subsidies for employees who would otherwise be laid off.

Loan guarantees for business.
Backing of £330bn of loans to support businesses through a Bank of England scheme for big firms. There are loans of up to £5m with no interest for six months for smaller companies.

Business rates.
Taxes levied on commercial premises to be abolished this year for all retailers, leisure outlets and hospitality sector firms.

Cash grants.
Britain’s smallest 700,000 businesses eligible for cash grants of £10,000. Small retailers, leisure and hospitality firms can get bigger grants of £25,000.

Benefits.
Value of universal credit and tax credits to be increased by £1,000 a year, and eligibility for these benefits widened.

Sick pay.
Statutory sick pay to be made available from day one, rather than day four, of absence from work, although ministers have been criticised for not increasing the level of sick pay above £94.25 a week. Small firms can claim for state refunds on sick pay bills.

Other.
Local authorities to get a £500m hardship fund to provide vulnerable people with council tax payment relief. Mortgage and payment holidays are also available for up to three months, as well as emergency overdrafts and limits on interest & charges.

 

Staying positive.

How are you coping with the pandemic?

Looking after your mental health during a time like this is very important, so take a look at some tips to help keep your mental health at its best whilst staying at home.

Avoid speculation. Rumours can feed anxiety, so it’s important to have access to good quality information from reputable sources, such as gov.uk.

Stay connected. Support is always welcome, but it can be hard to access when you’re trying to maintain social distancing. Staying in touch with friends and family on social media is a great way to ensure that you get that much needed social interaction, whilst making sure that those who are close to you are doing okay, too.

Exercise. We’re able to go outside once per day for exercise. A walk (or run) around your local neighbourhood will get you out of the house for a little bit each day, and you may feel better for it. There are also plenty of online exercise tutorials that you can do at home!

Eat well. Research suggests that what we eat may be affecting our mental health as well as our physical health. Eating a well-balanced diet (e.g. rich in vegetables and nutrients) may be associated with greater feelings of wellbeing.

Get help if you need it. If you’re concerned that your mental health may be deteriorating during the pandemic, you can always speak to an organisation that offers expert help and support, such as Mind and Samaritans.

 

A little extra help.

If you’re worried about paying your household bills, or if you’ve been financially hit by the impact of coronavirus, we’re here to help.

If you’d like more information on switching your energy supplier to reduce your gas and electricity bills, call MoneyPlus Energy on 0161 837 4747 or email theteam@moneyplusenergy.com.

If you’re struggling to pay your household bills, or if you’ve lost income because of the current situation, then help may be available. Contact MoneyPlus Advice on 0161 837 4000, or email us at info@moneyplus.com for helpful, no-obligation debt advice.

 

#TogetherWeCan.

Do you know of a vulnerable person living in your local neighbourhood who could benefit from a little extra help during the current self-isolation period? Or maybe you’re self-isolating and want to take additional precautions?

We’ve produced a handy little print-out that you can put up in your window/on your front door to avoid unnecessary contact during a self-isolation period, or that you can give to your neighbours to do the same if you think it could help them.

Click here to download!

 

Live Better Forum.

We’ve created our own forum!

It’s a fully supportive space, where you can share tips, advice and things to do (for yourself, or for the whole family) during the current Coronavirus disruption.

We hope this space allows people to offer solidarity to one another during this time.

We’d love for you to join us! Just click here to head to the forum and become a member!

 

Together, we can #LiveBetter.