Well, what a change a month can bring. Could we have ever predicted that we would be living through scenes from the apocalypse movies? Please take care of yourselves and let’s look out for each other by following the guidance on social distancing.
Remember that you don’t need to be alone. You have friends and colleagues who may also be feeling worried and vulnerable. Please do make use of the discussion forums to keep in touch with each other.
If you are self-isolating, I have some reading recommendations for you below:
Well done to Sara from Debt Camel and Martin Lewis for being so prompt in getting advice and guidance out to the public to help with all the practical issues created by Covid-19.
Sara has provided guidance on the options available to people who find that their income suddenly drops an start to find it difficult to manage bills and debt repayments. Sara provides examples of why an income may drop because of external factors such as childcare issues or through being offered fewer contract hours at work. Looking at extending debt should not be the first port of call and Sara provides links to help for benefit checks and how to contact a debt or benefit adviser. Practical details are shared showing what bills to pay first, what can wait and how to ask for relief if payments cannot be afforded. Nicely done Sara.
Martin also provides practical guidance with money issues but also looks at people’s consumer rights if they have to cancel contracts for holidays, events and whether you can claim a suspension or refund for unused portions of season ticket or subscriptions. There is also guidance for employment rights for those who need to take time off work to look after children, redundancy rights and statutory sick pay eligibility.
Both sites are being amended as news or guidance is made available by the Government.
In other blogs:
Back to debt advice issues. Meg van Rooyan from the Money Advice Trust, has commented on figures released for failure of IVAs. Failure rates have hit 8.4%, the highest level in 16 years. This is a real concern for our clients. There can be severe consequences after an IVA has been failed including the potential reinstatement of the full debt, and interest and charges added.
Meg argues that IVA firms should be forced to reveal their failure rates; and high failure figures should lead to proper scrutiny by regulatory authorities.
Finally, another interesting read from Z2K. The Lords Economic Affairs Committee held an inquiry into Universal Credit (UC). Z2K responded to the inquiry with their evidence from clients. The evidence suggests that UC is failing to deliver on its original aims because these aims were either misconceived or subject to bad design decisions. UC doesn’t provide enough control over money to have a stable managed budget, and this in turns plunges people into debt very quickly. Z2K are lobbying for migration to UC to be stopped and for a number of reforms to be made.
Have you read any good blogs recently? Let us know in our discussion forum.
In other news
Keep an eye on the meetings pages on our NIS area of the IMA website. We will keep you updated with any news on whether your local MAG meetings are cancelled or running.
Many of us will now be working in a very different way than we are used to. Many of you will have shifted to a different medium for giving advice. Because of the uncertainty that we are facing with Covid-19, we may be able to help each other by sharing how we are providing advice. We can share best practice and look at different ways to offer help to as many as we can. If you have any templates, standard letters or suggested new ways of working please let us know.
All the very best to everyone. More blogs next month.