For updated information surrounding the Coronavirus please check the government website: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Coronavirus: Domestic abuse victims still allowed to leave to seek help
Following advice to stay at home, the government has issued clarification that domestic abuse victims are allowed to leave home to seek help at refuges.
BrightHouse in administration
BrightHouse, the biggest rent-to-own operator in the UK, has collapsed. Whilst administrators try to sell off parts of the business, customers should continue to make their monthly payments. The administrators will be acting as the collecting agent. The company had already been struggling after receiving compensation claims for giving rental agreements to people who could not realistically afford to repay, then its shops then had to shut as part of the coronavirus restrictions on retailers.
Key workers to allowed to carry over holiday entitlement
The government has said that essential staff will not have to use all their annual leave allocation this year allow up to four weeks of unused holiday to be carried into the next two leave years. The changes to annual leave policy will be in the Working Time Regulations and so should cover nearly all workers including agency staff and those on zero-hours contracts.
Government advises people to postpone property moves
The advice from the government is to postpone a move if at all possible.
Drivers to get six-month emergency MOT extension
The government has granted car owners a six-month exemption from MOT testing with effect Monday 30 March. The exemption will apply to cars, motorcycles and vans, but the government warned that vehicles must be kept in a roadworthy condition. Garages will remain open for essential repair work while drivers will face prosecution if they’re caught driving unsafe vehicles.
Practical driving tests and annual testing for lorries, buses and coaches have already been suspended for up to three months.
Coronavirus: Bank branches close as virus affects access
Many bank branches are closed or operating restricted opening hours as a result of the current coronavirus pandemic. They are encouraging customers to use online banking, as their telephone services are struggling with longer waiting times too.
From April 6 lenders are set to increase their overdraft rates to as much as 50 per cent. However, Barclays announced that it will waive its 35 per cent interest charges on overdraft borrowing between 27th March and the end of April. Lloyds Banking, which includes Halifax and Bank of Scotland, is launching a £300 interest free overdraft available until July.
Date of implementation of Confirmation of Payee postponed
The roll out of the implementation of Confirmation of Payee by the banking industry, which will cross check the name of recipients with their account number, has been postponed until 30th June due to the coronavirus. Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland have already introduced the new working practice, but others including Santander will not be ready until June 30.
Holidaymakers seeking refunds warned to be scam aware
National Trading Standards has warned holidaymakers to be aware of fraudsters offering fake holiday refunds for customers forced to cancel their trip.
Scam text messages
People have reported receiving fake text messages informing them of a fine because they have been seen out and about. Do not click or tap on any of the links in the text message.
Coronavirus: Food vouchers for children entitled to free school meals in England
Families with children eligible for free school meals in England will be able to claim weekly shopping vouchers while schools are closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. From 30th March schools can join the scheme, and vouchers will be sent out by email directly to the eligible families by the Department for Education’s supplier, Edenred. Alternatively, for those families which do not have internet access, the school can claim them on their behalf and send out paper copies in the post. Parents will be issued with either an electronic voucher or gift card worth £15, to spend at supermarkets including Sainsbury’s, Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose and M&S.
Frontline NHS staff in the UK on visas to be given automatic one-year extension
Frontline NHS staff in the UK on visas will receive an automatic one year extension as a result of the current pandemic. Doctors, nurses and paramedics whose visas are due to expire before 1 October will be given a 12 month extension free of charge. It will be extended to their family members too.