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In the last decade British banks have paid out
£71 Billion for misconduct

Since the boom in personal spending, the banks have been at the forefront in providing finance for consumer purchases. Very often, the products were not as described and furthermore many of the loans in respect thereof were arranged by unregulated credit brokers which in many cases were the actual vendors of the product.

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Coronavirus: what are your rights at work?

Coronavirus: what are your rights at work?

Find out your rights if you have to take time off work due because of coronavirus

Brean Horne Fri, 03/27/2020 - 12:31
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Many workers are undergoing huge change by working remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has left some facing an uncertain financial future.

Many employees have been told to work from home where possible and others have taken time off to self isolate or care for someone affected by the virus. 

We outline your rights if you have to take time out of work because of coronavirus.  

What is social distancing?

Social distancing is the process of reducing physical distance between people, curbing the spread of the virus.

The government has suggested avoiding: 

  • Contact with people displaying coronavirus symptoms
  • Non-essential use of public transport where possible
  • Large and small social gatherings in public spaces
  • Gatherings with friends and family

For more information and advice read the government's guidance on social distancing

What is self-isolation?

Self-isolation involves staying at a secure indoor location and avoiding contact with others. This prevents you spreading the disease or catching it in the first place.

Public Health England (PHE) guidance recommends a self-isolation period of 14 days.

When self-isolating you must:

  • Stay indoors
  • Not go to work, school or public areas
  • Not use public transport e.g. buses trains, tubes or taxis
  • Avoid visitors to your home
  • Ask friends, family members or delivery services to carry out errands for you e.g. getting groceries, medication and other shopping

For more information on how to self-isolate correctly read the full PHE guidance.

Will I get paid if I self-isolate?

If you have been instructed to self-isolate, you will be entitled to sick leave. According to health secretary Matt Hancock, self-isolation should be considered “sickness for employment purposes". The amount of pay you get depends on your employment contract.

If your employer does not not offer sick pay, you will be entitled to statutory sick pay for up to 28 weeks. This is currently £94.25 per week.

Usually this would be paid from the fourth day of illness, however, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that it will now be paid from the first day of illness. 

Will I get sick pay if I'm on a zero hours contract?

If you are on a zero hours contract, you may be entitled to sick pay. To qualify, you will need to have earned more than £118 per week before tax over a period of eight weeks. 

Workers who are not eligible for statutory sick pay, will now be able to make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance.

Contributory Employment and Support Allowance, which is £73.10 a week, is paid from the first day of illness rather than the eighth for eligible people affected by coronavirus.

Will I get sick pay if I'm self-employed?

Self-employed workers can apply for a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits, over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month.

The scheme is open to those who earn under £50,000 a year.

Eligible self-employed workers will begin receiving money from HMRC from June 2020. 

The grants will be subject to tax and must be declared on tax returns by January 2022. 

Company owners who pay themselves a dividend are not eligible for this scheme. 

What happens if I’m not sick, but work tells me to stay home?

If you are not ill and have not be asked to self-isolate but your employer tells you to stay home, you will be entitled to your usual pay.

What happens if I have to take time out of work to care for someone?

You are entitled to take time off work to help someone who depends on you in an "unexpected emergency". This includes:

  • If your child’s school has been closed and you have to arrange childcare
  • Your child or another dependent is sick, needs to go into isolation or go to the hospital

While there is no statutory right to pay for this time off, some employers may offer this depending on your contract or workplace policy.

What happens if someone with coronavirus comes to work?

If someone with coronavirus comes to work, the PHE health protection team will get in touch with your employer to assess the case. They will then be advised on what to do, which can include closing down the workplace.

What happens if I don’t want to go to work in case I catch coronavirus?

If you are afraid of catching coronavirus at work, speak to your employer immediately.

Employers should try to resolve your concerns and ensure the health and safety of their staff. For example, you may be given the option to work from home for a certain period of time.

If you still do not want to go into the office, your employer may be able to arrange for you to take time off as holiday or unpaid leave. They do not have to, and persistent absence from work could mean disciplinary action.

Can I still claim benefits if I self-isolate?

If you are unable to attend your usual appointments due to self-isolation, you will need to phone the office responsible for paying your benefit and give a reason. Not doing this could result in you losing your benefits payments. If you are on Universal Credit, you can use your online journal to explain why you are unable to attend an appointment.

This article was first published on 3/3/2020 and has been updated to reflect recent developments. 

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Coronavirus: UK home movers get a three-month mortgage extension

Coronavirus: UK home movers get a three-month mortgage extension

The Government is urging Britons not to move house to reduce the impact of the pandemic

Stephen Little Fri, 03/27/2020 - 11:11
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Lenders are giving homeowners a three-month extension to their mortgages so they can move at a later date and avoid spreading coronavirus.

The news comes after the Government warned Britons not to move house in order try and restrict the pandemic.

UK Finance, the body which represents banks in the UK, says lenders have agreed to extend mortgage terms by three months. It will apply to people who have exchanged contracts and agreed completion dates.

Stephen Jones, chief executive of UK Finance, says: "It is clearly not appropriate for people shielding or self-isolating to move home. Therefore where chains contain people in these groups, lenders, conveyancers and other professionals are working together to enable these customers’ moves to be delayed.”

What to do

The three-month extension will make it easier for homeowners to extend their move date.

This could mean extending the date of a current deal or pushing back the start date of a new one.

If you have exchanged contracts, are worried about a looming completion date and want to extend your mortgage offer you should contact your lender.

Lenders have also said they will show understanding if customers' financial circumstances change during this three-month period or the terms of the house purchase change significantly.

Government advice on moving

The Government is urging Britons to stop moving to help stem the tide of the coronavirus outbreak.

It is advising people to delay moving into a new house while the current measures are in place to fight the coronavirus.

In its guidance it says that, while there is no need to pull out of transactions, all parties should try to agree alternative moving dates unless the property is empty.

The advice says: "Our advice is that if you have already exchanged contracts and the property is currently occupied then all parties should work together to agree a delay or another way to resolve this matter.

"If moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, people must follow advice on staying away from others to minimise the spread of the virus.”

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent, says: “What we have found is that most people, having made the decision to move, want to hang on in there and see what happens rather than take any dramatic steps to pull out, unless of course they have lost their job or their industry is particularly badly compromised.

“If anything, the need to stay in and sit on their hands is making more people think about moving when the virus is hopefully conquered and our lives are no longer on hold, if the enquiries still coming in are anything to go by.”

With the country on lockdown, there is concern that house prices could fall as the market grinds to a halt.

As a result of the virus, a number of lenders have withdrawn new mortgages to focus on existing customers.

Barclays and Halifax for Intermediaries have both stopped selling mortgages above 60% loan-to-value. This means new customers will need to have at least a 40% deposit or equity in their homes.

Virgin and Skipton Building Society have also suspended all new mortgage applications for house purchases.

Meanwhile, over a third of tracker mortgages were withdrawn when the Bank of England cut the base rate to 0.10%.

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Starling Bank the latest bank to join problem gambling crackdown

Starling Bank the latest bank to join problem gambling crackdown

Lender brings in 48-hour block on gambling spending

Brean Horne Thu, 03/26/2020 - 15:29
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Starling Bank is the latest lender to toughen up its problem gambling restrictions with a voluntary 48-hour block on betting transactions.

The payment block allows customers to prevent transactions for certain types of activity, such as gambling. 

Previously, Starling Bank users were able to get around the block by disabling it any time they wanted.

The new delay is meant to help stop customers making impulsive gambling transactions. 

A spokesperson from Starling Bank says: "We introduced the 48-hour delay because we felt it would make the block more effective.

"We hope that this new feature will allow time for reflection."

Banks help customers fight gambling addiction

Several banks have already introduced payment blocking features to help customers tackle problem spending, such as excessive gambling. 

Barclays was the first bank to introduce such a feature at the end of 2018 by allowing customers to turn off payments to certain types of retailer, including gambling services.

This block, however, can be turned on and off instantly in the Barclays banking app.

Since then banks such as HSBC and app-based bank Monzo have also introduced a gambling block feature which takes the idea a step further.

Customers of these two banks must give 48 hours notice in order to lift the gambling restrictions.

The table below shows which banks offer payment blocks and how long they take to remove. 

Bank Card type Notice required to lift ban
Bank of Scotland Credit card and debit card 48 hours
Halifax Credit card and debit card 48 hours
HSBC Credit card and debit card 48 hours
Lloyds Bank Credit card and debit card 48 hours
MNBA Credit card only* 48 hours
Monzo Debit card only** 48 hours
Barclays Credit card and debit card None
NatWest Credit card only None
RBS Credit card only None
Starling Bank Debit card only** None

Gambling on credit cards banned

People will be banned from using credit cards to gamble from 14 April 2020, the Gambling Commission has ruled. 

The ban will apply to all online and offline gambling products except for 'society lotteries' that are run for good causes.

It follows a review of online gambling conducted by the Gambling Commission and a separate Government review of gaming machines.

Around 22% of people using credit cards to gamble are classed as "problem gamblers", the Commission found. 

The ban aims to put layers of financial protection in place for vulnerable customers.

Neil McArthur, chief executive of the Gambling Commission says: “The ban is part of our ongoing work to reduce gambling harm.

"We also need to continue the work we have been doing with gambling operators and the finance industry to ensure consumers only gamble with money they can afford to spend."

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