Coronavirus - What To Do If You Face Financial Difficulties
18 Mar 2020
It will be hard to escape the economic realities for many businesses shutting their doors for the short term future due to the Coronavirus. The current economic uncertainty could well result in substantial job losses and put businesses and people under a heavy financial pressure. Some people may have already felt this economic weight impact them and fear getting into financial trouble due to the crisis.
If you're worried about your financial circumstances during this period, consider the steps below which may help you in this difficult situation:
1. Check if you are eligible for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment or Illness Benefit
The Government has announced a package on the 24th of March worth nearly €4bn to support businesses through the next few weeks of the COVID-19 crisis.
If your job has been directly affected by the Coronavirus, you should see what government supports are available to you and your family. In response to the pandemic the Irish government has recently introduced the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. This is a new social welfare payment for employees and the self-employed who are unemployed or who have their hours of work reduced due to the outbreak.
It includes people who have been put on part-time or casual work. Payment is available if you are aged between 18 and 66 and have lost employment due to the coronavirus restrictions. Students who have lost employment can also apply.
The Government National COVID-19 Income Support Scheme includes:
A temporary wage subsidy of 70% of take home pay up to a maximum weekly tax free amount of €410 per week to help affected companies keep paying their employees. This is the equivalent of €500 per week before tax
Workers who have lost their jobs due to the crisis will receive an enhanced emergency COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350 per week (an increase from €203)
The COVID-19 illness payment will also be increased to €350 per week
The self-employed will be eligible for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350 directly from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (rather than the Revenue scheme)
Enhanced protections for people facing difficulties with their mortgages, rent or utility bills
Further information is available on gov.ie or citizens Information website.
For business owners, Enterprise Ireland has also issued advice and support which can be accessed here.
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or have been told to self-isolate by your GP, you should apply for Illness Benefit.
2. Conduct a financial audit of your finances and alter your spending habits
Over the next week or two, it may be a good time to look at your future finances and ensure you will have enough to meet your financial commitments in the medium to short-term. Mortgages, rent, bills, and the necessities like food/drink expenses can quickly become hard to manage if you're hit with an income reduction.
With people being encouraged to stay inside to reduce the spread of the virus, now may be the time to change how you transact and maybe even join online banking. Most credit unions have an online banking facility allowing you to check your finances, access statements well as electronically transfer money in and out of your account.
3. Talk to the credit union if you need help
The current crisis may result in people who are under pressure financially. If you already have a loan then you may be worrying about continuing to meet the loan repayment schedule. The credit union would like to remind members they are here to discuss difficult financial positions and loan repayments in this difficult time.
You can find your nearest credit union and drop them a line here.
4. Avoid Payday or Fast Loans
If you do need fast access to cash, it’s vital to remember that Fast Loans/Payday Loans do not provide the answer. They usually come with high interest rates that keep the borrower stuck in a cycle of paying back loans.
The content of this blog is aimed to provide general advice and information to the public only. Readers should always seek professional advice or Government advice when it comes to financial support during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. One should also directly contact their bank or credit union for more specific information in relation to their individual loan repayments.