Financial wellbeing during a pandemic

David Price, workplace wellbeing expert and CEO at Health Assured, explains why financial wellbeing has become a crucially important consideration for employers

Uncertain and unprecedented times can impact our social, mental, physical and financial wellbeing. An unexpected crisis, such as a pandemic, can cause many of us to feel overwhelmingly anxious and worried about society, the economy, and personal finances.

Financial difficulties are often caused by an unexpected expense or loss of income, and a crisis is more likely to have this impact. With there being a clear link between financial and mental health wellbeing, it’s crucial to take action at the earliest opportunity. Here are five essential things to consider.

  1. Budgeting

It is important to stay in control and on top of your financial situation in a crisis. Creating a personal budget helps us to make the most of our money as it enables you to establish your current cash flow and identify outgoings. Free online budgeting tools are available websites such as The Money Advice Service.

  1. Debt

If the budget shows a shortfall and you unable to pay or sustain bills and debts, ensure you reach out for help at the earliest opportunity. There are many options available to help overcome financial hardship, and free support is available. Banks and lenders often have ways to support once they are aware that you are struggling financially and expert debt support services such as StepChange can provide confidential support.

  1. Government Measures

The Government have introduced a wide range of financial measures and emergency legislation in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, to support employees, the self-employed and businesses. Government guidance and measures are under continuous review and are being updated often, so be sure to keep abreast of announcements and updates that may be available to support you and loved ones.

The Government have introduced a three-month mortgage payment holiday that mortgage borrowers can apply for if struggling to make mortgage payments because of COVID-19. Contact your mortgage provider at the earliest opportunity to discuss your options to stop or reduce your monthly mortgage payments temporarily.

If you are a tenant and struggling with rental payments due to COVID-19, speak to you landlord about a rental payment holiday. While COVID-19 has demonstrated that some businesses have become more flexible in their approach to individuals’ and consumers, it is important to note that landlords are not obliged to agree to a rental holiday.

  1. Job Security

Job stability and security can be affected in times of a crisis, with many employees being furloughed during the COVID-19 outbreak. Furlough is a type of leave introduced by the Government to enable employers to retain staff on their payroll system, who are unable to work during the current crisis. Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, employers can claim a grant of 80% of an employee’s normal pay, up to £2,500 per month.

Being placed on furlough leave can be unsettling and stressful, but it does not necessarily mean your job is not stable and that you will not return. If you are placed on furlough, you may be able to use this as an opportunity to stay safe at home, reduce your financial expenditure and engage in online training.

  1. Financial Resilience and Control

Building financial resilience allows you to feel confident and in control of your finances. A crisis can affect our ability to make ends meet, however being financially prepared for unexpected events such as a crisis can mitigate stresses. Having an emergency savings account or insurance policies in place can help you to prepare for unforeseen expenses. However, many have been taken by surprise by the current pandemic, so it remains important that you seek support without delay when needed.