Financial impact of Long Covid on the household

This section explores how people’s ongoing Long Covid symptoms have affected their family’s financial situation.

This topic is split into the following areas:

  • Impact on work
  • Changes to family circumstances
  • Attending appointments and paying for private treatment

Long Covid has significantly impacted people’s ability to work. For parents with Long Covid, this was because of how their symptoms affected them. For parents of children with Long Covid, this was because of changes in their caring responsibilities. For some people we spoke to it was a mixture of both. Many families are in difficult financial situations due to a decline in their income. A lower family income, combined with the cost-living crisis occurring in the UK (at the time of writing October 2022), meant some families are struggling financially.

Housing and changes to work hours

Households had often lost income if a parent had stopped working, either due to their own symptoms or to care for a child with Long Covid. These changes to income often left people questioning how they will pay rent or mortgages.

Razia is no longer able to work. Her family now rely on the fifteen hours a week her husband works, which she describes as “not enough to keep a roof over our head”. Coupled with their landlord ending their tenancy unexpectedly, this has placed their family in a difficult financial and housing situation.

Razia’s family now relies on her husband’s income which is “not enough to keep a roof over our head”.

Catherine had to reduce her hours at work to help care for her son who has Long Covid. Her reduced hours and the money spent on travel and experimental treatments abroad has made her consider re-mortgaging her house to cover these expenses.

Catherine is considering re-mortgaging her house to cover her family’s expenses, which has included travelling abroad for treatment.

Richard and Michael feel fortunate because they know that other people with Long Covid are struggling financially. Richard can no longer work as a GP because of his Long Covid symptoms but his family is able to live on his wife’s salary. Michael has had to return home from university and feels privileged that he is able to live at home and his parents are able to financially support him.

Richard feels fortunate that his family is able to live on his wife’s salary.

Changes to family circumstances

Changes to family circumstances due to Long Covid have put a strain on pre-existing family arrangements. Hazeem now works reduced hours because of Long Covid. This had a huge impact on his finances as he provides the sole income for his family. This has put them in a difficult financial situation as he is on a zero-hour contract and can’t work enough hours to support his family. Zero-hour contracts mean an employer does not have to guarantee an employee a minimum number of hours of employment. Hours of employment depend on demand.

Hazeem has had to reduce his work hours due to symptoms despite being the primary earner for his family.

Maryam’s family is now solely reliant on her husband’s income as she and two of her children have Long Covid and she can no longer work. She describes their situation as ‘hand to mouth’. The financial situation has caused her stress and anxiety which she does not want to pass onto her children.

Maryam does not want to pass on her stress and anxiety about finances to her children.

Changes in family circumstances, such as the death of a spouse, also had financial impacts. For Sharifa and Rebekah, the deaths of their spouses due to Covid means the management of finances falls solely on their shoulders.

Sharifa’s husband used to manage the family’s finances but following his death it is now her responsibility.

Sick pay and financial assistance

Some of the people we talked to needed financial assistance. Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a monthly payment that helps towards extra living costs due to physical or mental conditions and disabilities.

Michelle, and others, encountered hurdles applying for PIP support which she needed because she could no longer work. Michelle found that her symptoms made it difficult to remember key details required to apply for the payment.

Michelle’s Long Covid symptoms made it difficult to complete the PIP forms and interview.

Xanthe also found it difficult applying for PIP. Xanthe received sick pay from work because her Long Covid symptoms meant she could not leave home. She was unsure how long she would be entitled to sick pay, so she also applied for PIP to help ease the pressure on her parents who are caring for her. However, her original PIP application was rejected. She has had to challenge the decision through a tribunal.

Xanthe applied for PIP to help fund her care when her sick pay runs out.

Others sought financial assistance from workplaces to help towards childcare costs when they are working. Sara and her husband spent a lot of money on childcare throughout the pandemic when schools were closed. Despite her Long Covid symptoms making it hard to work, the conditions of her visa say she is not allowed to reduce her work hours. Her employers said they could not offer assistance with childcare payments.

Sara paid thousands in childcare costs so that she and her husband could continue working and retain their visa.

Attending appointments and paying for private treatment

Due to the variety of health complications caused by Long Covid many people sought medical support. Parents of children with Long Covid had to adapt their work schedules to make time to go with their children to appointments.

For parents who work freelance this meant working in evenings or missing out on job opportunities. This had a knock-on effect on their finances. Those who had been referred to Long Covid clinics often had lengthy and costly round trips, adding further drain to the family budgets.

Danie was unable to work as much as usual because she had to take her daughter to hospital appointments.

In order to afford private appointments and treatments, some used savings, tried to supplement their wages, or remortgaged their homes.

Catherine, Charlotte, and Emma B all sought private treatment for Long Covid. Catherine has travelled to Germany for her son to try experimental treatment. Due to the cost of the trips and having to reduce her work hours, Catherine has considered remortgaging her home.

Emma B used money put aside for family days out and holidays to pay for private healthcare. Charlotte’s husband drew on the family holiday fund to pay for private care. He is desperate for her to recover and hopes investing in private tests, therapies and treatments will help find a way to reduce her symptoms.

Charlotte’s husband used money they would usually spend on family holidays to pay for private appointments and medication.

Although many people we spoke to had considered private appointments, treatments, and medications, few could afford to spend much money on them. As yet (October 2022) no treatment for Long Covid has been found.

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