Advice for Dot Dot Dot Guardians dealing with the financial impact of Covid-19
COVID-19 has changed everyday life for all of us. For many Dot Dot Dot guardians, the main changes they face are the shift to working from home and being distant from family and friends. For others, the changes include more severe financial difficulties, and we have received queries about what that means for their guardianship.
This page explains what you should do if you are facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. It also explains how Dot Dot Dot is responding to the financial needs of our guardians.
We have also included a reminder to update your accommodation back up plan to reflect the impact of Covid-19. You can find more details below.
Dot Dot Dot fees are payable by Direct Debit on the first day of the month. From April, we will also e-mail you an invoice. This will allow you to pay by card or bank transfer if your direct debit is likely to fail. If you are not able to pay your fees in full, it is important to pay as much as possible each month.
Immediate steps you must take if you are facing difficulty in paying your housing fees
If you are facing financial hardship, it is important that you take immediate action to address your situation:
- Apply for Universal Credit – the sooner you apply for Universal Credit, the sooner you get your first payment if you are approved
- Plan your finances so that you can pay your housing fees in the coming months
- Seek debt and money advice to help you meet your housing costs by handling other debts during the crisis
- Inform Dot Dot Dot about your circumstances if you may not be able to pay your fees in full during the crisis
Dot Dot Dot’s commitments to guardians during the COVID-19 crisis
Like all businesses, we are dealing with a changing and uncertain situation. Our planning and approach will evolve along with the crisis, but we are committed to the following:
- To continue to provide housing affordably and safely to great guardians
- To recognise the financial hardship that will be experienced by our guardians
- To work collaboratively with guardians and other stakeholders for the best outcome
- To lobby to ensure that the needs of guardians are recognised during the crisis
What guardians can do
As a guardian, you can take steps to protect your own circumstances. Many of those steps will also help Dot Dot Dot to play a positive role in the crisis.
If you are facing financial uncertainty and hardship, it is important to act straight away. You can begin immediately to organise your finances, take steps to deal with debt, and claim any benefits to which you might be entitled.
Dot Dot Dot cannot offer money or debt advice. We strongly advise that you seek money advice if needed. We have provided some useful links and resources below.
Below we have provided more detail on each of the steps that you should take if your financial
situation has been affected by the crisis:
1. Seek benefits and financial support
2. Plan your finances and prioritise your housing costs
3. Seek money and debt advice
4. Tell Dot Dot Dot about your situation
1) Seek benefits and financial support
Many guardians facing reduced incomes will be entitled to Universal Credit, regardless of your employment status. There is support being put into place for self-employed people too.
Dot Dot Dot has clarified directly with the Government that as licence fees are housing costs, Universal Credit can be claimed by property guardians. If your application is queried on this basis, please contact us straight away.
Find out more about Universal Credit and make your online application online.
The government has taken steps to enhance Universal Credit, and to make it faster and easier to apply. Because a lot of people are applying during the COVID-19 crisis, there might be a waiting list for some parts of the application process. Do not wait – apply immediately. The sooner you apply, the better off you will be if your application is accepted.
For more advice about your entitlements and how to claim, check this useful resource from the Money Advice Service, and seek advice about money and debt.
We recognise that benefits can take time to be paid, and that not all guardians will be eligible. Dot Dot Dot expects all guardians who have difficulty in paying their fees to make every effort to claim the benefits to which they are entitled.
If you were employed by an organisation and paid by PAYE, and this has stopped because of the Covid-19 crisis, your employer may be accessing the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This will protect many employees by supporting 80% of previous pay.
If you are self-employed, you may be able to claim Universal Credit as outlined above. You may separately be able to receive a lump sum from the government under the Coronavirus Self Employment Income Support Scheme. The government is pro-actively contacting self-employed people based on existing tax-return data. You should read the guidance and prepare to make your application when invited. If you have an outstanding tax return you may need to submit this to ensure that you receive the correct amount.
2) Plan your finances and prioritise your housing costs
Do not wait until you have built up additional debt to make a plan for your finances. We understand that planning your finances can be worrying or even scary during a crisis and that Covid-19 brings uncertainty. We also understand that ‘planning’ can seem overwhelming because of that uncertainty.
Act now and make the best decisions using whatever information you have available.
Look ahead and make clear decisions, even if your plan changes every week.
Paying your housing fees should be your top financial priority. We are committed to continuing to house existing guardians throughout the crisis wherever possible, but Dot Dot Dot is not able to underwrite the fees of guardians – it is important that you pay as much as possible of your fees so that your housing is stable and reliable.
There are a number of online resources to help you plan your finances, such as this guide from
the Money Advice Service.
3) Seek money and debt advice
If you will not be able to pay all of your bills and other financial commitments, you will need to contact your creditors (the people you owe money to) and agree a plan. Some creditors like banks and credit card companies will be able to offer payment breaks or plans to help you through the crisis. Money advice services can help you to do this effectively.
There are a number of organisations that can provide debt advice.
You can find local services using this search tool.
Good sources of advice include:
Although these services are busy during the COVID-19 crisis, most are putting in place extra resources. Citizen’s Advice Bureau is mobilising a new digital service that will support thousands more people. Accessing resources and advice early is very important.
Many debt advice organisations can complete a Standard Financial Statement for you. This statement will be helpful if you need to approach creditors. Dot Dot Dot may ask to see your Standard Financial Statement if you are having difficulty paying your fees.
4) Tell Dot Dot Dot about your situation
You should contact Dot Dot Dot about your financial situation if:
- You will not be able to pay your fees in full
- Your financial situation has changed and you may face difficulty in paying your fees in the near future
To contact Dot Dot Dot to tell us about your financial situation, you should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will respond to every guardian who makes contact with Dot Dot Dot about their financial situation – please bear with us as we give each query the time and attention that it needs. Your email also assures us that you are looking ahead and taking your financial responsibilities seriously.
In order to offer the correct advice to you, we may ask you to provide us with additional information about your financial and employment situation. Please help us by giving as full and clear a picture as you can. We know that you might have limited information about what will happen in the next few months – please just share with us what you know.
Dot Dot Dot will try to offer flexibility and support to guardians most in need, but cannot under-write or subsidise guardian fees. Contacting Dot Dot Dot is not a substitute for the steps described above – it is very important that you seek financial support, make a clear plan, and get money advice if relevant. Dot Dot Dot will ask you about the steps that you have taken to manage your financial situation.
Failed direct debits create difficulties for guardians. We recognise that guardians might choose to cancel direct debits (either directly or by asking Dot Dot Dot) and to pay separately, whether by card or by bank transfer. You will be sent an invoice to make this easier from April, and you should contact Dot Dot Dot if you would like to alter the method of your payment.
As well as addressing your financial situation, this is a good time to make sure that you will be okay if your current accommodation becomes unavailable.
All Dot Dot Dot guardians are asked to have a back-up plan before being housed by us. Any of our buildings might need to be returned to its owners, and guardians will normally receive only 28 days of notice.
Please ensure that you have a clear and up-to-date backup plan.
This should be a specific plan for moving out of your current accommodation if you are given notice. This should include clear plans for:
- Where you will stay
- Where your possessions will go (if not with you)
- How you will complete the move
If this plan depends on other people (eg to help with moving logistics, or to provide somewhere to stay), you should have agreement from that person that they will support you if needed. Don’t wait until you need that person’s help before you confirm the arrangement.
The Covid-19 crisis has affected the living arrangements of many families. Please review your back-up plan and make sure that it is still relevant and dependable.
During the COVID-19 crisis, Dot Dot Dot will proactively work with owners to try to avoid the need to hand back properties. We will also work with owners and other organisations to try to identify other local properties that might be available to replace lost accommodation. We understand that for many guardians their move on plan might involve difficult compromises during the crisis, and we will work hard to avoid this where feasible.
Because the Covid-19 crisis may affect the UK for many months, it is likely that some of our current properties will need to be returned to their owners before the crisis has ended. Dot Dot Dot can not guarantee that suitable alternative accommodation will be available to guardians.
Please be prepared and have a clear plan in place.
What Dot Dot Dot is doing to support guardians
Dot Dot Dot is working hard to fulfil the commitments that we have laid out at the top of this message.
We are proud to be supporting guardians and keeping our services in operation during the crisis. Our staff are working hard and under difficult and uncertain conditions to provide the best possible response to the crisis and to the individual challenges faced by our guardians.
Many guardians have already contacted us to inform us both of the challenges that they are facing, and of the good work that they are doing to support neighbours, vulnerable people and others at this difficult time.
Thank you to everyone who has made contact, and to all guardians who are doing their best to cope with this unprecedented challenge.
We will be publishing more information in the coming days and weeks about the positive impact that our guardians are having, and about how Dot Dot Dot is working to provide the best possible service and support.