New COVID-19 Help for Mortgage Payers
14th September 2020
The thing about the kind of financial support we’ve seen over the pandemic is that it’s all, by definition, limited. Every measure the government’s taken necessarily has an expiry date. Meanwhile, the coronavirus itself doesn’t – and neither does the financial damage it’s been doing to British families.
It looks like we’ve seen the last of the blanket-style “help for anyone who needs it” moves we’ve had previously. However, there’s definitely still support on offer. It’s just on more of a “help for those who need it the most” basis. Under new rules proposed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), mortgage payers who are seriously struggling could still access some crucial support once the current measures expire.
The 3-month payment holiday scheme that’s been tiding millions of us over during the pandemic is set to end on the 31st of October. That means, under the existing rules, no new payment breaks as of the 1st of November. However, the FCA proposals are set to make things a lot more flexible than before. Anyone still seriously struggling to keep up mortgage payments after Halloween could qualify for additional support. Similarly, people forced into major financial trouble after October the 31st will no longer be automatically left out in the cold.
For anyone who qualifies for help under the new system, the support options available are going to be less of a “one size fits all” deal. Instead, the help will be tailored more closely to their individual situations. Examples include:
- Short-term extensions on payment holidays.
- Reduced payments for an agreed period.
- Extended mortgage terms.
- Switching to a more affordable mortgage.
The important thing to keep in mind here is that, just as with the original support packages, none of this is going to cut down the size of your mortgage debt. Payment holidays need to be made up further down the line, and extended mortgage terms will inevitably see you paying more overall. Alternatively, if you change to an interest-only mortgage type your payments might become more affordable. However, you won’t actually be paying off any of the value of your home.
So far so good, right? Well, yes – additional support for people who desperately need it is absolutely welcome. A lot of families are facing significant problems once the current schemes expire, so continued help is essential. However, not all the news is great. Until now, the COVID-19 support packages have all come with a guarantee that your credit record won’t be dented if you take them up. However, with the new scheme, that guarantee’s going away. If you aren’t able to pick up your repayments after your agreed payment holiday ends, credit companies are going to know about it.
Another thing coming to an end on Halloween this year is the ban on repossessing properties. The FCA does make a point of saying this should always be a last resort, but it’s definitely worth being aware of if you’ve been struggling.
As always, our best advice when money’s tight is to make sure you’re not leaving too much on the taxman’s desk. Check if you're due a tax refund now, if you travel for work, there’s a good chance you’ve been paying more tax than you owe.
RIFT are the UK's leading tax refund experts. If you're wondering if you could be owed money back from the taxman, check out our tax refund calculator for an instant estimate on what you could be owed.