Chancellor's extra measures to help Brits during second lockdown – from furlough extension to self-employed grants

HELP is there for families hit by Covid and the second lockdown.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced extra measures this week as England was hit by restrictions until December 2.

Here, if you’re under financial pressure, I look at the government’s latest arrangements for help and benefits.

Furlough extended to end of March

IF your company is forced to shut or it does not have enough work, it can put you on furlough.

This means you still get paid 80 per cent of your salary, up to £2,500 – stumped up by the Government.

Furlough now runs until the end of March, so long as you were on your firm’s payroll at the end of October. Workers can also be on any type of contract, meaning you could still be furloughed if you are a part-time employee or on a contract.

Anyone who is made redundant after September 23 can also be rehired and put on furlough. Your old boss does not have to rehire you, but you can always ask.

Self-employed grants revamped

BUILDERS, taxi drivers and other self-employed workers get similar help to cover pay from November to January. They can get up to 80 per cent of their typical profits over a three-month period, up to £7,500.

It is a boost to what was initially on offer for the same period of 40 per cent. But that was before this second lockdown was announced when they would not not have been hit so badly.

Applications for payments will also be brought forward from December 14 to November 30. If you were excluded from the initial scheme you are still not able to claim.

Plus it doesn’t cover limited company directors – but you might be able to furlough yourself if you pay yourself an income via PAYE rather than just by dividends.

Mortgage holidays extend to January

PEOPLE struggling to pay their mortgage can get a payment holiday of up to six months. The scheme was due to end on October 31 but you can now apply to the end of January.

You can ask for a break for up to six months – but only if you have not already taken out a payment holiday.

Bad news if you have already taken a six-month payment holiday. You can’t get another one but if you are really struggling, ask your bank to see if it can help in another way.

If you have taken a break, but not for the full six months, the bank will be able to extend its payment holidays. Remember, the interest will still be added to the total amount so only take one if you really need it.

Card, loans, car finance help

MORE than 1.7million credit and store cards and loans were on payment holiday at the height of lockdown. It’s down to 170,000 but more might need them with the second lockdown.

The deadline to ask for a break on a variety of credit cards and loans – such as store cards, catalogue credit and borrowing from credit unions and payday lenders – was also due to end on October 31 but has been extended.

Payment holidays can be up to six months, but as with mortgages you cannot have a second one if you took a break earlier in the year.

You still pay interest, which can add up on credit cards. The key is there is no mark on your credit file at places like Experian for a missed payment.

Bounce-back loans extended to January

SMALL companies and sole traders whose business was hit by Covid could get low-cost loans during the first lockdown – and can again.

There is no interest on the first 12 months and after that just 2.5 per cent. They are 100 per cent backed by the Government – meaning the risk to banks is very low so businesses which might not normally get them could.

Businesses which borrowed less than the maximum £50,000, or 25 per cent of their turnover, can now top up their bounce-back loans.

Originally, businesses had until November 4 to apply for the support from their bank. But the Government has announced that the scheme will be extended until 31 January 2021.

Landlords can’t evict before January 11

LANDLORDS are banned from evicting renters in England until January 11. There was a similar halt during the first national lockdown.

Tenants who have committed antisocial behaviour or domestic abuse don’t get the protection.

Renters must also still be given six months’ notice before being asked to leave, as part of rules that will be in place until March 31.


FUTURISTIC homes like those in Sixties cartoon show The Jetsons can be a reality without spending a fortune – thanks to new budget “smart” gadgets.
Voice-controlled lighting and security cameras seem expensive.

And needing a “hub” to set them up has put people off. But a new breed of cheaper, simpler versions are proving to be a hit.

TCP Smart Wi-Fi bulbs, £9.99, Argos: Falling asleep in bed then remembering you left the lights on downstairs is a pain – unless you have smart lights.

They have “serious” uses too. Set them on timers for when you are out, to make it look as though you are at home to deter intruders. But back to the fun uses, or for when you are feeling lazy. After all, we are going to be spending more time at home with lockdown.

You can fire up the app on your phone and turn them on or off, dim them or change colour as you sit on the sofa watching telly. And they link up with smart speakers too, so you can use your voice to control them with Alexa or Google Assistant. You don’t even have to lift a finger.

They are easy to set up. You just screw them in, turn on and the TCP Smart app finds them. The app explained how, with a few clicks, I could set them up with my Google Home speaker.

Philips Hue is the biggest smart bulb company, with a vast range and more features but also a higher price. Bulbs are from £15. On top of that, each home needs a £50 Hue Bridge that plugs into the back of your broadband router.

Kami Indoor 360 Smart Home Camera, £49.99, Currys: Families often get video cameras for security, perhaps to keep out burglars. But they find the biggest use for them is when keeping tabs on the kids, pets or even their husband or wife. More on that later.

Kami records in HD quality. You can go to the app on a phone to check on things – and also rotate it to see more. There is a six-second alert when it detects movement. On the free plan, it only stores this short clip for a week. It costs from £40 up to £100 a year for full clips, stored for longer. The free plan will be fine for most.

Before lockdown, my wife and I popped out. The Kami was handy to make sure our pup wasn’t chewing my shoes. Instead, he ate the bin contents. I got home first but had been to the pub. My wife enjoyed the alert that showed me stumbling in and tripping over the bin.

It has a mic and speaker, so she could talk to me – as she could have done if I had been an intruder. Kami’s cameras are like those from market leaders Nest and Arlo – but those cost at least twice as much, with the top-end Nest Cam IQ Indoor at £299.

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