New online tool to help people navigate finances in the wake of Coronavirus
The Money and Pensions Service has launched a new online tool to help people navigate their finances in the wake of Covid-19 and avoid financial issues worsening in future, as the organisation reveals over 1 million people have already looked to MaPS for help dealing with the financial impact of the pandemic.
The Money Navigator tool, available on the Money Advice Service website, asks people a short series of questions about their financial situation, before providing guidance which is personalised according to their needs. It will highlight areas where they should consider taking action most urgently to avoid money problems later on.
Money Navigator is designed to help people who have seen their finances impacted by Covid-19. This includes people dealing with complex financial situations who may find it difficult to know where to start, such as those facing redundancy or job loss, the self-employed whose work has dried up, and people who have had a temporary income drop who need help to get back on track. The tool will also help people who are looking for support in a specific area, as well as those who might be in a better financial position due to Covid-19 and want to know what to do with any savings they may have built up.
A lot of the people expected to need Money Navigator are those who have been taking payment breaks on mortgages and other products. Figures from UK Finance reveal 1.9 million mortgage holidays have been granted since March, as well as 961,700 payment deferrals on credit cards and 688,900 payment deferrals on personal loans.1 Some repayments are expected to start from mid-July.
The tool will also help many people find support from other organisations, such as:
- StepChange, National Debtline and PayPlan for debt advice and Business Debtline for business owners
- Citizen’s Advice and Turn2Us for help with benefits and Universal Credit
- Shelter for housing support1
Other resources will include guides from the Money Advice Service website.
During the pandemic, services provided by MaPS have seen:
- 1,016,000 people viewing Covid-19 content on the Money Advice Service and The Pensions Advisory Service websites since the pages went live in March2
- 1,300,000 people viewing information about benefits on the Money Advice Service website since March
- 106,000 people looking at the mortgage payment holidays content on the Money Advice Service website since April
- Nearly 99,000 customers supported via webchat and the phone since the start of April. The three consumer websites – for the Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise – have had nearly 7.5 million users.
Eileen Pevreall, Digital, Marketing and IT Director at the Money and Pensions Service said:
“From our experiences on the financial health frontline these last few months, we know that many people are facing complex situations and multiple money issues, which can make it hard to know where to start in terms of getting help. But it’s really important that people know they are not alone in this. By spending as little as 30 seconds filling out some details on our Money Navigator tool, people can receive tailored guidance that will help them understand what they need to prioritise, what they could be entitled to and which organisations they can go to for immediate support.
“Seeking support for money problems now will help many people avoid bigger debt problems later on.”
Members of the Money Advice Service Coronavirus and Your Money Facebook group have shared details of how Covid-19 has placed them in complex financial situations. Charlotte, 26, a franchisee from the North West of England found herself in financial difficulty when the Covid-19 lockdown began and had to take payment holidays. People in similar circumstances to Charlotte could benefit by using Money Navigator to work out priority next steps.
“I started my own franchise in 2019 but when the pandemic hit, overnight 70% of my household income vanished as my business had to temporarily close and my husband was also furloughed to 80% of his wage. To get by, we took a three-month payment holiday on our mortgage and our car finance, and delayed council tax payments for two months. We accessed some employment support and thankfully had a savings safety net to fall back on. I also used the Money Advice Service’s Facebook group ‘Coronavirus and Your Money’ to keep up to date with information relevant to my situation and accessed money guidance on the website.
“Our payment holidays are coming to an end soon, and I have found another job so I am confident we can afford to resume repayments, as the increase on our mortgage is only £20 extra a month and it is spread out over a longer term. I was glad to have the breathing space initially. However, I am still concerned the way back over the next few months will be challenging.”