Martin Lewis answers your furlough and coronavirus compensation questions
Question 1: Can an employee report their employer without the risk of losing their job if the employer isn't using the furloughed scheme properly?
Martin Lewis: Firstly, you are not allowed to work when you are on furlough. If your employer says you have to work when you are on furlough, they are breaking the law. The second thing is if an employer has put in that you are being furloughed - and let's remember furloughing is for an individual - then they have put in your salary. They get money for your salary so by law you get all of that money which is 80% of up to 2,500 a month. You must get all that money. If either of those happens, the first thing I'd do, if you have a normal employer, is go and talk to them because they've probably made a mistake or something has gone wrong or they don't understand the rules. If that isn't the case, you can report them to the HMRC fraud department anonymously and you can make an anonymous report. I know that people will be scared doing that and in some circumstances, if you're the sole employee, it might be obvious who has done it, but they are in breach of the law if they're doing what you say they're doing. They've claimed furlough money for your employment and are not spending it on your employment, that is a breach of the law.
Question 2: Will the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme be extended to the end of June like the furlough scheme?
Martin Lewis: It hasn't been announced. One would think there would be a parity, but there is some news on the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. We had originally been told contact would start to happen in mid May and payments would be in June. It's just been announced that it's all moved ahead which is good news. Contact will be coming next week by text, letter or email. Check it isn't a scam. Also, if you go on the government's website and do its eligibility calculator, then you will be given an appointment. You don't need to do this but if you want to be given an appointment so you'll know when your appointment is, they will be between Wednesday 13 May to Monday 18 May. If you go and do the eligibility checker now, you'll get the money six working days later which means if you've got your appointment on Wednesday 13 May, you could have the money by the Thursday 21 May. Remember on that scheme you get three month's money in one go. It's 80% up to £2,500 of your average profit as long as it's below £50,000. Remember on the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, the rules are different, you can work and get that money unlike furloughing.
Question 3: My wedding venue will not postpone my wedding date from July to next year. I have paid in full and will lose 95% according to the contract signed. Please help.
Martin Lewis: July is quite a tricky one. The first thing to say is, it may be possible to have the wedding in July. We don't know that yet and that's what makes it more difficult if they're not willing to postpone. Of course, postponing is better. But if you get to July and you can't have the wedding, ie, it's cancelled, then according to the Competition and Markets Authority, you have a right to a refund. This issue applies to holiday accommodation, nurseries, travel and everywhere else. The problem is, firms are not giving people refunds. In some places like flights, it's clear cut. EU regulation 261/2004 says if your flight is cancelled, you get the option of a refund and that's a cash refund. In other areas where there is no regulation, then the firms say, 'contractually we don't have to give you the refund'. The Competition and Markets Authority - which is a government regulator - has said that whether they just can't provide the goods or service or whether you can't get the service even though it's available because of lockdown rules or whether they can't provide the service even though it's available because of lockdown rules, you should get a refund. An absolute refund. It will be looking to take enforcement action in three sectors - weddings and events, holiday accommodation and flights. What I would say to individuals is, if the service is not available, you are due your money back in full. If you can be nice to them and take a voucher or credit note, do because we don't want the companies to collapse. But if you need the money, then take a debit card chargeback or go for a Section 75 chargeback. Remember the CMA says if you've been cancelled you're due the money.
One of the big golden rules at the moment is don't cancel yourself unless you've got a cancellation policy. If you cancel yourself you don't have the rights. If they cancel you, you do have the rights so wait until it's officially cancelled if they won't move it.
Question 4: Why are university students not being offered a refund on this year's fees?
Martin Lewis: Universities should be offering teaching. What they're doing in most cases right now is moving their teaching online and in some cases, from September it will be online and in some cases, it won't be. The ministers in England have said there's no refund for tuition fees because you're being taught online. So the delivery mechanism does not change whether you pay or not. However, there is a general right on universities that if you get a substandard service you can make a complaint.