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Coronavirus: what’s happened so far?

From the economy to government support and, perhaps, your own finances, a lot has changed in a short time due to coronavirus. Here’s a recap of some of the key changes.

Economic impact

With many businesses across the UK having to close to stem the spread of coronavirus, economic activity has fallen. Employees have been let go or furloughed until businesses can reopen again. According to the Department for Work and Pensions, there were almost 950,000 new claims for Universal Credit in the last two weeks of March. In April, the British Chamber of Commerce said more than 70% of private firms have furloughed staff.

According to Zoopla’s UK Cities House Price Index, the demand for housing fell by 70% between the start of March 2020 and the week ending 29 March. Zoopla’s research estimates that more than 370,000 property sales could currently be stalled in some way. Some of these sales are expected to happen later in the year, but they estimate the number of completed home sales this year could be 50% lower than in 2019.

The FTSE 100, which tracks the performance of the 100 largest companies on the London Stock Exchange, dropped significantly in March, but trended higher throughout April. 

On 11 March 2020, the Bank of England (BoE) cut the Bank Rate to 0.1%. The Bank Rate is the rate at which the BoE lends to commercial banks, which then impacts the rates customers get when they borrow or save money. However, while the Bank Rate is influential, it’s not the only thing that determines the interest rate you may get from a bank.

Changes to Government support

To help people overcome some of these economic challenges, the Government has introduced a range of measures. These include:

  • HMRC will reimburse 80% of wage costs for workers who’ve been furloughed
  • a taxable grant up to 80% of trading profits (up to the value of £2,500) for 3 months for self-employed people – you’ll need to fit the eligibility criteria to be able to claim this
  • for businesses, The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme allows employers to get help in paying employee salaries, if employees would have otherwise been laid off. It’s available for UK employers with a PAYE scheme

See more about support measures announced by the Government.

Help with your finances

Banks have also announced changes to help customers. For HSBC customers, some of these measures include:

Most of our branches are still open, but on reduced hours. Services in our branches are also currently limited. We can still help with cash deposits and withdrawals, international payments, changes of address and certain other services. However, we won't be able to offer new products or set up appointments for now.

Find your nearest branch

Our contact centre hours have also changed. All lines are open from 08:00 to 20:00, except for lost and stolen cards, which is open 24/7. We’re receiving far more calls than usual, so our wait times are longer. Please only call us if it’s urgent, so we can help those most in need.

Changes to travel

On 17 March, The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised British people against all non-essential travel worldwide. This advice took effect immediately.

Many people have had to cancel holidays and events during this time. If this applies to you, you should check if you can get a refund or make alternative travel arrangements with your travel or accommodation provider. Failing that, you may be able to get a refund through your credit or debit card provider. 

If your airline has cancelled a flight from or within the EU, or to the EU with an EU airline, your airline may be obliged to assist you with refunds or re-routing and care (including accommodation) under EU regulations and/or the terms and conditions of your booking. 

Your airline may offer you a voucher for future travel, but we understand you’re not obliged to accept this and are entitled to ask for a refund of the price paid for your ticket.

Read more about our travel guidance.

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