We have lots of information and advice to support you when managing your bills and other financial obligations during the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, as well as guidance on any funding you may be eligible for during this time.

In this article:
 
 
How we can help you
If you are in financial hardship due to Coronavirus, or had pre-existing financial difficulties that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, you may be eligible to apply for financial aid from King’s through our Hardship Funds.

If you have a complex financial situation, are unsure how to prioritise your bills and/or how apply for any of the support outlined by government for workers, our Specialist Student Money Advisers can advise and support you on your individual circumstances.
 
You can call the Advice Line or submit an online enquiry form to book a consultation.
 
 
Managing your money
When considering your priorities over the coming months, always ensure that you have enough money for food, medicine and other essentials between now and your next instalment of funding, wages or other financial support. To help you plan your money we've created the Student Cashflow Forecaster.
 
If you are worried that your finances won’t cover your essentials, please seek advice from us or external advice agencies:
 

Important to know: It is important that you don’t ignore any bills and contact any services or organisations that you make regular payments to, including outstanding bills or debts. They might be able to help you by letting you pay smaller amounts or take a break.

Check in with your bank
It is worth checking with your bank or building society, as they might be able to help you with your debts or let you delay any loan or credit card payments.  Several banks have announced recently that they are temporarily suspending overdraft interest charges and have dedicated processes for requesting more time to pay. 

The Money Saving Expert has produced an extensive guide to your rights which is regularly updated and recommended reading for anyone with financial commitments – both small and large.


Warning about scams
Make sure you only use trusted sources of information about Coronavirus and your debts. If you receive any communications about student finance or help from King’s and you are unsure if it is genuine always check with the Student Funding Office.

We are aware of several scams claiming to provide financial assistance from the Government, calls for action to donate to the NHS or fines for breaking quarantine so please be vigilant and check all communications are legitimate before responding.

Don’t give money or personal details to anyone you don’t know or trust – for example, if someone knocks on your door and offers to help.

Citizen’s Advice Bureau have developed this useful guide on how to check if something is a scam. Always report scams to Action Fraud.

Other useful articles:
 



Concerns about specific payments/bills

 

 

I’m concerned about paying my tuition fees

Most of our students will have paid their tuition fees for 2020/21 but we are aware that some of you may have other arrangements in place, in line with your funding. 

If your income has reduced or you are worried about your financial security during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and feel that you are unable to keep up with your financial commitments to the university, contact Credit Control about your situation.  You may also find our article I think I will miss my fee payment deadline helpful.

If you are experiencing broader financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic, and are worried about other financial commitments as well as your payments to King’s, Advice & Guidance can help you to assess your eligibility for funding or welfare replacement benefits, and evaluate how you can pay your bills in these ever changing circumstances.

 

 

I’m concerned about paying my rent

 

Renting privately

If you are worried that you cannot pay your rent, you should explain the situation to your landlord straight away - they might give you more time to pay, or agree to reduce your rent depending on your circumstances and their own position.

Important to know:

  • You still need to pay your rent, so this is only a temporary measure; rent arrears will need to be resolved eventually. 

  • If you are a disabled student or student parent you may be eligible for help with your rent but the rules are quite complex for students. Advice & Guidance can advise you on your eligibility but your individual circumstances will need to be looked at. 

  • If you have been financially affected by the Coronavirus pandemic you may also apply to our King's Coronavirus Financial Assistance Fund for support. This fund has been set up to help with accommodation costs, living costs due to loss of income/absence of employment or help with costs related to online study such as purchase of laptops. The scheme will accept applications until 19 March.
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If your landlord doesn’t agree to be flexible with your rent payments, it’s a good idea to pay as much as you can afford and keep a record of what you discussed.  If you need help with negotiating your rent arrears at a later date or your landlord is threatening to evict you, the Specialist Housing Advisers in Advice & Guidance can assist you. 

Our colleagues at University of London Housing Services have produced further guidance on your rights, which they are regularly updating in line with government rent.

Important to know: If you’re renting a room in your landlord’s home, your landlord can ask you to leave - they won’t have to go to court to evict you. You can check what rights you have as a lodger and are strongly advised to contact Advice & Guidance if you are ask to leave the property and have nowhere to go.


What if I normally have to leave the house to pay my rent?

Ask your landlord if you can pay your rent in a different way, such as a card payment over the phone or an online transfer. You can also contact your bank for advice about different ways to pay. 

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Renting from King’s

If you rent a room through King’s and are worried about how you might manage your next instalment contact Credit Control about your situation in the first instance to discuss you situation. 

For more information about how Residences are supporting students in our properties please see our article Support while self-isolating in a King's residence.

 

 

 

I’m concerned about paying my Council Tax

Most students are exempt from Council Tax but if you study part-time or live with someone who is liable this may be a concern for you. 

As Council Tax is billed and regulated by local authorities, the provision differs from area to area.  Always consult your local authority website, most have useful information around Coronavirus now, including Council Tax.

If you have any concerns about your eligibility please refer to What is Council Tax and do I have to pay it?

 

 

I’m concerned about paying my utility bills

Energy suppliers have been told by Ofgem that they should be continuing to identify vulnerable customers and ensuring their needs are met.

 

Prepaid meters

If you live in a property with a pre-payment meter and you are struggling to top up your meter due to self-isolation, you can ask a trusted person to top up your card for you. If your meter is outside, you can leave this unlocked to give them access.

If you are:

  • vulnerable
  • of pensionable age
  • have children under 5
  • have a disability or long-term medical condition


It’s important to let your energy supplier know. Each energy supplier keeps a Priority Services Register of people who may need additional assistance.

Energy firms are being encouraged to put new measures in place to help customers who are unable to top up during this time. Issues are likely to be looked at on a case by case basis, so we would recommend contacting your supplier if you are having issues.

Moneysavingexpert.com has compiled a list of suppliers and what measures they have agreed to put into place - this will be updated as they receive further responses: Coronavirus Finance & Bills Help
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Standard credit meters

Providers have so far said that they will be looking at issues on a case by case basis but that they will consider extending bill due dates, alternative payment arrangements and removing debt charges for late payment.

With rates changing rapidly, it may be worth checking if there are any cheaper plans available and consider switching supplier.

If you are in rented accommodation, always check with your landlord or agency before switching supplier.  You can compare rates here: Cheap Energy Club

 

 

Water bill

It’s best to speak to your water company as soon as you can if you’re having problems paying your bill.  Some companies, such as Thames Water have outlined on their website, how they are helping customers, who are worried about the impact of increased usage and reduced income.

 

 

What if I am struggling to pay my utility bills?

You should contact your supplier as soon as possible if you are having difficulty making payments.

The government has set out an emergency package with energy suppliers to ensure customers do not face any additional hardships with utility supply during this difficult period.

If you are struggling financially options will include:

  • reviewing bill payment plans, including debt repayment plans
  • payment breaks or reductions in how much you pay
  • payment extensions
  • in some cases, hardship funds
No meters will be disconnected during the outbreak.
If the cost of your bills increases because you are self-isolating at home and you are worried about your ability to pay, your energy supplier will be able to provide support.

Your supplier must look at your affordability and take this into account when offering you options.

 

 

 

I’m concerned about insurance

The FCA has issued guidance to insurance providers to provide flexibility to their customers if they are in financial difficulty. 

You are advised to speak to your insurance provider and update them on  your circumstances if anything has changed which may impact your cover, for example have you moved home, are your belongings in a property you no longer occupy or are you working from home. 

They will be able to advise if anything needs to change with your cover, and if you are in financial difficulty and pay monthly what options there may be with respect to payment that allows you to keep your cover.

 

 

I’m concerned about my mobile phone bill

Check with your supplier, but some firms seem to be offering data boosts and extra minutes to help their customers stay in touch with family and friends during this time. 

If you have returned overseas and no longer need your UK contract speak to your supplier about cancelling your service contract. However, you will need to continue payments towards any handset you have a contract for.

 

 

I’m concerned about my subscription & memberships bills

Subscriptions and memberships are not considered essential services, but during the lockdown they can be much needed distraction and company, especially if you can access them online.

If you are no longer able to use the service you are paying for through a subscription or membership fees, speak to the company directly to find out if you can get a refund or if they can pause payments during this period.

One money saving tip may be to review your memberships with some of your friends and family; most allow multiple users so you may be able to come to an agreement with a friend or family member to share your log-in details. 

Important to know: Always use unique passwords that will not permit others to gain access to other accounts.

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