money matters during the COVID-19 outbreak

Many of us are facing serious financial problems due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Whether you are self-employed or on a fixed or 0-hours contract, in most cases you should be able to claim back a significant proportion of your lost earnings.

The government have recently announced schemes for claiming grants to cover up to 80% of lost earnings. However, these grants will not be paid for many weeks, leaving some of us struggling.

This advice is intended to help you, as a therapist, navigate your finances in the coming months, as well as to provide information that may help your patients. 

For vulnerable people, the added financial stress of the current period may be unbearable. Try not to be afraid to talk about money with your patients. You may well have to negotiate reduced fees, or a reduced session frequency. Remember that this is a stressful time for both of you.

It is my stance that we should strive to work through the money taboo ourselves so that we can understand the meaning of money and help our clients with money-related issues whether they arise in relationship to the fee or otherwise. In my experience, clients do not often bring up money concerns unless they experience the therapist as willing to focus attention on such matters. That is more likely to be the case when the clinician has explored what money means to him, his attitudes and beliefs about it, how they were formed, and how he thinks, feels about, and relates to other people when money questions are involved.

The Candidate Journal

Issue 3: Money

see the full issue here

time and money in psychoanalytic psychotherapy

Dr Barry Keane’s slides from our recent event

download here

Psychology Today

'A Letter to Therapists: Beware of Financial Stress' by Ryan Howes PhD, ABPP

see here

Susan Patricia Doherty

"Money in therapy: Private practitioners’ experiences and perceptions of charging for counselling. A qualitative study." MA dissertation.

read here

housing costs

gov.uk

support for landlords and renters

click here

citizens advice

if you can't pay your bills because of coronavirus

more info

shelter

housing advice during the coronavirus crisis

see here

All mortgage providers are offering a 3-month mortgage holiday for those who need one.

Contact your lender on how to apply, and be aware that a mortgage holiday is not always the best option. You will still have to pay the money back, which will increase your future payments. If you have overpaid in the past, you may be eligible to underpay instead.

Which have a helpful page on mortgage holidays here.

If you are struggling to pay your rent, speak to your landlord. See if you can make payments in arrears, or seek a rent reduction. Make sure you get any agreement in writing. 

Remember, that it is illegal to evict someone without notice, even over worries about COVID-19. 

If you landlord gives you notice because you can’t afford to pay your rent, stay calm. 

If you receive an eviction notice on or after 26 March 2020, the notice has to be increased to 3 months for these tenancy types:

  • assured tenancy
  • assured shorthold tenancy
  • protected tenancy
  • secure tenancy
  • flexible tenancy
  • demoted tenancy
  • introductory tenancy

In addition, all court proceedings for eviction have been suspended until 30th September 2020. This means that it is illegal for any landlord to evict you from your home until at least the 30th September.

 

government financial support

gov.uk

The UK's self-employment income support scheme

apply here

Money Advice Service

Learn more about claiming Universal Credit if you’re self-employed

click here

Crunch.

Guide to making a self-assessment tax return

see here

Money Advice Service

advice and guidance on the impact of coronavirus on your finances

click here

for the self-employed

If you are feeling well but you are earning less, you can apply to the self-employed income support scheme.

To be eligible, you must earn more than half your income from self employment, have submitted a tax return for 2018/19 and have:

  • a trading profit of less than £50,000 for 2018/19, or
  • an average trading profit of less than £50,000 for the tax year 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19.

If you qualify the government will pay you a grant for 80 percent of your monthly profits, up to £2,500 a month for three months.

You will get a lump sum payment and it is hoped these will start at the beginning of June.

Payments will be backdated to the start of March and cover a three-month period to the end of May, though it may be extended.

HMRC will use your average trading profits from 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 to work out the size of your grant.

It is a taxable grant, so you will have to declare it on your Self Assessment tax return and might have to pay income tax and National Insurance on it.

If you were self-employed income during the 2018/19 tax year, but have not submitted a Self Assessment tax return yet, you have four weeks to submit one. However, if you become self-employed after April 2019, you will not be eligible.

If you are eligible, HMRC will contact you directly and invite you to make an application.

You may be able to make a claim for Universal Credit until the self-employed income support scheme starts.

The government has announced the standard allowance will be increased by up to £86.67 a month from 6 April 2020, plus you may be able to claim elements for other costs, such as housing, caring responsibilities or bringing up children.

The amount you get will depend on your circumstances including household income and will be available to new and existing claimants.

If you are sick and coronavirus means you’re unable to work, and you’ve paid enough National Insurance Contributions, you might be able to claim new style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you’re ill.

The government has said you’ll now get paid from the first day of the claim, rather than after eight days.

If this is the first time you’ve applied for ESA, you’ll have to fill in form ESA 1 and send a fit note from NHS 111 with your claim form to show that you’re not fit for work. You should get the first payment into your bank or building society account within three weeks.

gov.uk

COVID-19 guidance for employees

see here

for the employed

In most cases your employer will have made arrangements fro you to carry on wokring from home as normal, or will have put you "on furlough". This means that 80% of your wages, up to a monthly cap of £2,500 will be paid for under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Both you and yoour employer must agree to this before they can apply on your behalf, so speak to your employer.

As with the self-employed, you can also claim SSP (even if you are staying at home because someone else in your household is sick) or Universal Credit.

gov.uk

The UK's coronavirus job retention scheme

see here

Low Incomes Tax Reform Group

advice for small businesses 

click here

for people and small businesses with employees

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is expected to be open by the end of April.

If you have employees which you have started at PAYE payroll for on or before 28th February 2020 then you will be able to claim for up to 80% of your employees wages. This includes:

  • full-time employees
  • part-time employees
  • employees on agency contracts
  • employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts

The scheme also covers employees who were made redundant since 28 February 2020, if they are rehired by their employer.

note: this scheme is only for employees who are not working. If your employees are on reduced hours then they will not be eligible. Consider this when working out  your employee rota - it may be best for your employees if you place them on furlough.

the money advice service

for free, impartial advice

see here

money saving expert

coronavirus help and your rights

click here

personal loans and credit cards

In the worst case scenario, you may have to look into getting a loan. As always, make sure you do you research and find a low interest loan with a low fee.

Check a price comparison website, such as moneysupermarket.com and make sure this is more cost effective than using your credit cards. You can always seek free, impartial advice via the Money Advice Service.

 

alternative sources of funding

Many funding agencies have announced grants to support practitioners. It may be worth checking with any relevant organisations for such assistance. E.g. the Arts and Humanities Research Council

alternative sources of funding

Many funding agencies have announced grants to support practitioners. It may be worth checking with any relevant organisations for such assistance. E.g. the Arts and Humanities Research Council

Support for charities, community groups and not for profit organisations across the UK is being announced by various agencies. You can find an extensive list here.

For those working in science, technology, maths and engineering, this is something of an opportunity, the UKRI has announced a large package of funding for COVID-19 oriented research. Almost any type of business, start-up or researcher can apply.

negotiating when your patient can't pay your usual fee

If can be uncomforatble to negotiate a lower fee with your patients, especially in times of crisis and pressure on therapist and patient alike. A key to making this easier for both of you is to prepare early and, as the therapist, to begin the conversation yourself.

Here are some ways that you can mitigate your own financial loses, whilst aiding with the financial strain of your patients:

  1. Propose flexible scheduling. 
  2. Suggest a payment plan. 
  3. Offer a sliding fee scale. 
  4. Accept what they can offer. 
  5. See them pro-bono. 
  6. Refer them to someone who is willing to charge less.

Unfortunately, for some, therapy is seen as overpriced and this may cause extra tension during times of financial strain. Try to remember this, and remember that it may be helpful to delicately remind patients (if appropriate) that you also have to make a living.

psychotherapy.net

lowering fees in hard times: the meaning behind the money

see here

the guardian

is therapy worth the cost?

click here

goodtherapy.org

how to set sliding scale fees

see here
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