Many workers will be starting to feel the pain of pay cuts imposed during the coronavirus pandemic as they open their monthly wage slips.
The stifling effect of Covid-19 on the economy has led to many companies slashing employees’ wages, as well as furloughing staff.
As people are often paid on the last Friday of the month, many employees will now be starting to see the effects of salary reductions on their bank balance.
Some will be wondering whether they can make their shrunken salaries last a whole month.
It can be tempting to bury your head in the sand and try to borrow your way through it, but this is just going to build more problems laterSarah Coles, Hargreaves Lansdown
Recent research from Kantar found 31% of people say their household incomes have been impacted by the pandemic, and a further 30% are expecting to see an impact.
Many financial firms are offering temporary payment freezes on loans for people whose income has been impacted by Covid-19.
But interest may still build up over the payment holiday period, so people will need to carefully weigh up their options.
If people think they will have payment problems, they should contact their lender as soon as possible so the firm can work with them to find a solution.
Martyn James, a consumer rights expert at Resolver.co.uk, said: “For millions of people, just getting paid was the main focus. But now money is starting to arrive it may be considerably less than many expected or anticipated.
“The important thing is not to panic. You can negotiate rent, mortgage and credit holidays which should significantly reduce your outgoings. There’s also a range of payments lurking on your accounts that you’ll find you don’t want or need that you can cancel and save.
“If your cash situation is dire, then free debt charity StepChange can help you consolidate your debts and negotiate with the people you owe. Don’t pay for debt services when there is free help out there.”
Sarah Coles, a personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “People could be in for a nasty surprise if today’s payday brings far less cash than they were expecting.
“It can be tempting to bury your head in the sand and try to borrow your way through it, but this is just going to build more problems later, so you need to tackle this head-on.”
The Scottish TUC (STUC) said people should carefully check their payslips, and it urged employers to make all efforts to switch to digital payslips to ensure workers receive up-to-date information.
STUC general secretary-designate Rozanne Foyer said: “If workers have not been paid or if they have received wage deductions or reductions in pay that they have not been informed of, they should contact their trade union immediately.
“Non-members should contact their work colleagues to check whether the problem is the same for others. Immediate contact should then be made in writing (via email or letter) so that workers have evidence that they have requested the pay owed.”
Here are Ms Coles’s tips for people who have had their pay cut:
1. Draw up a budget.
Make a note of everything you have coming in and everything you are spending. You may need to dig out old statements and find out where your cash goes. This will help you understand the gap you need to close between your income and outgoings.
2. Cut non-essentials immediately.
You would normally be tied to minimum periods for outgoings such as gym memberships, cinema memberships and media sports packages, but at the moment you may find these can be paused.
3. Cut the cost of the basics.
Do the shopping around you have been putting off – including everything from gas and electricity, to media and phone contracts.
4. Use budget brands.
Try using a budget supermarket or trade in your expensive brands for supermarket own brands and essentials ranges.
5. Pay less for your debts.
If you have a good credit record and you are currently paying over the odds for any of your debts, consider moving them somewhere cheaper.
You can use the money you save to pay the debts down, which will lower your bills in future too.
6. Check to see if you can get any refunds.
If you have a travel season ticket and are currently working from home, see if you can have the unused part of the ticket refunded.
7. Do not assume you need to take advantage of debt freezes.
If your pay has fallen significantly, it may make sense to take advantage of the three-month holidays being offered on mortgages, loans and credit card payments. However, it’s only worth using if you really need to, as any debt you take a break from during the crisis will continue to accrue interest, which will need to be repaid when it is over.
8. Try to keep some money aside for savings.
Life is less secure for millions of people and if the situation becomes worse, you will be grateful for anything you have squirrelled away.