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Sunday, Sep 20, 2020

Jobless ex-MP fights coronavirus credit impact

Jobless ex-MP fights coronavirus credit impact

Laura Smith, who is unemployed, says people's credit scores should not be affected by the pandemic.
An unemployed former MP is campaigning to stop people's credit scores being affected by deferred payments due to the coronavirus crisis.

Laura Smith, the ex-Crewe and Nantwich MP, out of work since December, wanted to reduce loan payments, but she found this could affect her credit score.

She has appealed to the government to stop penalties for the duration of the uncertain period.

MP Bambos Charalambous has also written to the chancellor to call for action.

After December's general election, Ms Smith shared her experiences in the job centre.

She was elected as a councillor for Crewe South on Cheshire East Council.

A single mother, she said she faced "challenges" from having only one household income.

"I was applying for jobs and I had a final interview, then the lockdown really started ramping up, and all recruitment was stopped, or postponed, until whenever we come out of this situation, so I am kind of in limbo," she said.

"I had already signed up with universal credit, which I am really thankful for."

Ms Smith lives with her two children and her parents, who are both over 70 and therefore in the vulnerable category, which restricts her ability to volunteer or work in front line services.

She said she began looking at the options for managing her bills and found she could amend them, but found it would affect her credit score.

"I suffered a bad mark on my credit score when I was a student and I had only recently got rid of it so I don't really want to see my credit score deteriorate over this," she said.

"So many people will be impacted."

She has started a campaign using the #StopBadCreditScores on Twitter.

Credit reference agency Experian has said those with concerns should contact lenders and ask about hardship options as soon as possible.

Mr Charalambous, Labour MP for Enfield Southgate, wrote to Rishi Sunak to ask that financial institutions ignore defaults during the period of uncertainty.

"I do feel this is one of the unintended consequences of Covid-19 and I don't want people to be worse off when they come out of this situation," he said.
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