Furlough: Britons face five key deadlines next week as government support ends | Personal Finance | Finance


Britons have been forced to confront difficult circumstances in the past few months as the effects of COVID-19 have ravaged normal life. Of particular impact was the financial strain brought about by the crisis, which has left many struggling to make ends meet as their jobs have been disrupted. To combat these issues, the government issued a raft of support measures to provide assistance to those palpably affected.

However, many of these measures are set to draw to a close next week, leaving potentially millions adrift, and needing to work out alternative arrangements.

The first key issue is the end of the furlough, or Coronavirus Job Retention, scheme which has provided support to over nine million people.

Original rules meant the government covered 80 percent of a person’s salary up to £2,500 – although this has been reduced as the support drew to a close.

But the support measure is to be replaced by the Job Support Scheme, providing employees who work at least a fifth of their hours with full pay for those hours.

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Thirdly, there will be an end to the temporary rules on 30 hours of free nursery care, as the normal rules kick back in. 

These require parents to earn at least the equivalent of 16 hours at minimum wage a week to qualify for 30 hours of free nursery care. 

A fourth consideration relates to payment holidays on personal loans. 

The deadline for applying for help with borrowing such as loans and credit cards will also fall on October 31, and those who wish to benefit should act fast.

And finally, mortgage payment holidays have an application deadline of October 31, meaning the ability to formally stop payments will end.

However, it is worth noting there is support which is set to continue in other ways. 

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has said that while payment holidays are ending, support is not being withdrawn entirely.

Lenders are now expected to provide tailored support to the people who need it most.

But Britons are urged to restart payments where possible to avoid interest building up. 

Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst, at Hargreaves Lansdown commented on the upcoming deadlines.

She said: “Millions of people are dreading October 31 this year: key coronavirus support schemes will be severed simultaneously, and threaten to leave us reeling from the horror.

“Almost one in 10 workers are still furloughed, and for many of them the end of the scheme brings horrible insecurity. 

“Meanwhile, millions of people have fallen back on payment deferrals and mortgage holidays to make ends meet through the crisis and now have to pick up the pieces of higher monthly payments or longer deals. And anyone relying on a free overdraft, will suddenly find themselves paying up to 40 percent on their debts.”

But for those who are worried about the incoming deadlines, it is advised they take action.

Ms Coles has recommended people take action to protect themselves financially.

This can be done through applying for a deferral in debt payments, or reassessing spending habits. 

For those who are using a free overdraft, switching to a cheaper form of borrowing is the best course of action to take. 

And people who have been made unemployed are urged to keep their CV up to date and sign up to job hunting websites to ensure the possibility of finding work again reminds as high as possible. 

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