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20 April, 2020 Open access

Government must take urgent action to ‘close the gaps’ in its support of household finances during the COVID-19 crisis

Money Advice Trust calls for additional funding to enable local authorities to offer payment holidays on council tax bills, and to pause arrears collection and enforcement action

The government must take urgent action to 'close the gaps' in its support of household finances during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, the Money Advice Trust has said.

In a new report, Closing the gaps Additional steps to support household finances through Covid-19, the Money Advice Trust says that, while the package of support announced by the government to support households through the COVID-19 crisis is unprecedented, urgent attention must be given to the groups of people at risk of falling through the gaps in the help available.

In particular, the Money Advice Trust calls on the government to - 

Commenting on the report, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust Joanna Elson said - 

'The government and regulators should be congratulated for acting swiftly to support household finances from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 outbreak – but there remain significant gaps in the measures announced so far.

Debt advisers are hearing from people whose incomes have collapsed, who are worrying about paying the bills and in many cases simply cannot wait for support from government schemes to come through, even where they are eligible for help.

People struggling with council tax bills, self-employed people facing immediate hardship and private renters are particularly at risk of falling into serious financial difficulty.  The government must take urgent action to close the gaps in its COVID-19 financial support package, or many more households will fall into problem debt.

At the same time, we know millions more are turning to universal credit – and we need the government to listen to the growing calls to put an end to the five-week wait for payments, so that people get the immediate help they need.

In the meantime, debt advice services like National Debtline and Business Debtline are working hard to help as many people as we can through the financial impact of COVID-19 – and to prepare for what we expect to be an unprecedented surge in demand for debt advice in the months ahead.'

For more information see Government must act to ‘close the gaps’ in Covid-19 financial support from