Below is a summary of the key updates relating to Coronavirus over the past week. You can also read our guide on how to get help if you've been impacted financially by coronavirus, or chat to an adviser through our webchat from 8:30am-6pm Mon-Thurs, 8:30am-3:30pm Fri. 

Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill was passed yesterday (1 April) and puts in place new measures to protect people in Scotland against the financial impact of coronavirus. Several measures have already been implemented by Westminster, but this new Scottish legislation relates to matters devolved to Scotland such as housing.

Protection from eviction

One of the most significant functions of the emergency legislation is that renters in Scotland will have increased protection from being evicted. Private and social landlords will now have to give tenants up to 6 months, (increased from three months – except from instances of criminal activity, or where the landlord has to move into the property themselves) if they are facing difficulties as a result of coronavirus, e.g. rent arrears.

This measure is intended to allow those affected to seek help e.g. applying for support and benefits.

Protection for people in debt

Another important function of the bill is the extended moratorium it has put in place for people in debt. Under this new legislation, creditors will not be able to take debt recovery action against individuals and firms for six months (increased from six weeks), and the limit of one moratorium period per year will be overturned. This measure is to ensure people in debt have appropriate breathing space during this uncertain time.

 Moratorium applications can continue to be submitted electronically here.

New FCA measures 

The Financial Conduct Authority will bring in new measures next week that will see freezes on payments for up to three months. Included in these proposals:

-Banks will be required to offer a temporary payment freeze on loans and credit cards where consumers face difficulties with their finances as a result of coronavirus, for up to three months.

-Customers who have been affected financially by coronavirus and already have an arranged overdraft will be able to borrow up to £500 at a zero percent interest rate, for up to three months

-Customers who use any of these temporary measures will not have their credit report affected

The FCA is currently consulting with banks on these measures and if confirmed, will come into force on 9 April.

Credit reports

The three main UK credit reference agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) have agreed that a temporary payment holiday with a lender will not affect consumers’ credit reports. This will apply to mortgages, credit cards, and other unsecured loans.

This means that if you are making reduced payments (as agreed with the lender) or using a payment break, there will be no negative impacts on your credit score.

-No missed payments will show on your report

-Any existing arrears will still show on your report, but new ones incurred as a result of coronavirus will not (if agreed with your lender)

-Agreeing a payment holiday or reduction with your lender will not be listed on your credit report

It is important to note that for payment breaks/reduced payments to not show on your credit report, they must be approved by your lender in order to become “authorised changes”. If not approved by your lender, these changes will be shown as “unauthorised” and will negatively affect your credit score.

Universal credit and benefits

Nearly a million people have made claims for universal credit in the past two weeks. If you’ve been financially affected by coronavirus, it’s worth finding out what support you’re entitled to by using our confidential online benefits calculator.