FACTSHEET 2

Covid-19: What we need to know

Frequently asked questions

Benefits and entitlements

Increases in Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit

From 6 April 2020 the Government is increasing the standard allowance Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit for one year. Both will increase by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating. This will apply to all new and existing Universal Credit claimants and to existing Working Tax Credit claimants.

This means that for a single Universal Credit claimant (aged 25 or over), the standard allowance will increase from £317.82 to £409.89 per month.

Housing Allowance

Housing Allowance is paid for tenants in private rented properties

Rates are increasing from April 2020 to the following:

Shared room rate for single people under the age of 35, £70.17

  •   1 bedroom £92.45

  •   2 bedroom £110.10

  •   3 bedroom £126.01

  •   4 bedroom £158.70

 

However it is not based on how many bedrooms you have; it’s how many bedrooms you need

 

SSP, Do I qualify?

If you work (and aren’t self-employed), you’re legally entitled to get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) as long as you:

  •  have started work with your employer

  • are sick for 4 full days or more in a row (including non-working days)

  • earn on average at least £118 per week (before tax)

  • follow your employer’s rules for getting sick pay

  • You’re still entitled to SSP if you work part-time or on a fixed-term contract.

 

If you’re an agency or casual worker and you’re working on an assignment when you get ill, you might be entitled to SSP until that assignment ends. If you’d already agreed to another assignment, you might be entitled to SSP till the end of that future assignment. If you’re not working when you get ill, you won’t be entitled to SSP.

 

Corona Virus, if you are off sick or told to stay at home

If you’re employed and get coronavirus, you’ll get statutory sick pay (SSP) from the first day you're ill. You won’t have to give your employer proof you're ill for the first 7 days. After 7 days, they can ask to see a 'fit note' to prove you're too ill to work. Don’t ask your GP for a fit note - get one from the 111 coronavirus service.

If you’re not ill but you’re following government guidance to ‘self-isolate’ and you can’t work from home, you’ll be entitled to SSP. You can get an ‘isolation note’ online to prove to your employer you need to stay off work.

 

You can:

 

If you’re self-employed, you can’t claim sick pay. If you pay national insurance you might be eligible for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

 

Applying for Universal Credit (UC)

Don’t delay in making a benefit claim, even if you think you may be affected by coronavirus.

You can apply for Universal Credit online https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit. If you are eligible you will need to make an appointment for your new claim interview. This interview will take place by telephone with a work coach. You will be given the number to call to book this appointment when you have submitted your claim.

Universal Credit users are experiencing extended waiting times for GOV.UK Verify. We appreciate how frustrating this is and they are working to improve the situation as quickly as possible.

If you need to claim Universal Credit or New style Employment and Support Allowance https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-style-employment-and-support-allowance because of coronavirus, you will not be required to produce a Fit Note.

If you are affected by coronavirus you will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance upfront without physically attending a jobcentre.

You make the claim for UC online https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit if this is not possible you can contact

  • The help to claim service 0800 144 8444

  • Universal Credit helpline 0800 328 5644

 

If you apply for UC you will need to make an appointment for your new claim interview. This interview will take place by telephone with a work coach. You will be given the number to call to book this appointment when you have submitted your claim.

Universal Credit users are experiencing extended waiting times for GOV.UK Verify. We appreciate how frustrating this is and we are working to improve the situation as quickly as possible

 

If you’re already claiming Universal Credit and think you may have been affected by coronavirus, please contact your work coach as soon as possible.

If you are in work and already claiming Universal Credit, and are staying at home on Government advice, you should report this in the usual way via your online journal. If this means you are working fewer hours, the amount of Universal Credit you receive will adjust as your earnings change.

For more information about any aspect of Universal Credit, including how to make a claim, visit https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit.

Self-employed people

If you are self-employed and claiming Universal Credit, and are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus, the minimum income floor (an assumed level of income) will not be applied for a period of time whilst you are affected.

From 6 April the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed. This change will apply to all Universal Credit claimants and will last for the duration of the outbreak. New claimants will not need to attend the jobcentre to demonstrate gainful self-employment.

Every self-employed person can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees

HMRC has offered time to pay flexibility over the payment of tax for self-employed people and established a Helpline 0800 0159 559.

Claimants already in receipt of Universal Credit

If you are in work and already claiming Universal Credit, and are staying at home on Government advice, you should report this in the usual way via your online journal. If this means you are working fewer hours, the amount of Universal Credit you receive will adjust as your earnings change.

If you are self-employed and are making a new application for Universal Credit, you will not need to attend the jobcentre to demonstrate gainful self-employment.

 

Contribution based benefits

If you are suffering from coronavirus or are required to stay at home and want to apply for ESA, the usual 7 waiting days for new claimants will not apply. ESA will be payable from day one.

 

If you have been working within the last 2 to 3 years and have paid and/or been credited with enough National Insurance contributions, you may be able to claim New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)

New Style JSA can be claimed on its own or at the same time as Universal Credit. Your savings and capital (or your partner’s savings, capital and income) are not taken into account when claiming New Style JSA.

Mortgage payments

If you are experiencing financial difficulties meeting your mortgage repayments because of COVID-19, you may be entitled to a mortgage or rental holiday for 3 months.

This includes if you are a landlord whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19.

The government has agreed with mortgage lenders that they will offer repayment holidays of 3 months to households in financial difficulty due to COVID-19.

The offer of a payment holiday can be made available to customers who are up to date with payments.

Customers who are concerned about their current financial situation should contact their lender at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss if this is a suitable option for them.

I cannot afford my rent

If you are experiencing financial difficulties meeting your rent repayments because of COVID-19, you may be entitled to a rental holiday for 3 months.

This includes if you are a landlord whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19.

 

If you are a tenant experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19, the Government will ensure you do not face the threat of eviction for at least 3 months:

Emergency legislation will be taken forward so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a 3 month period. This applies to private and social renters.

At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.

 

Applying for PIP or ESA

If you have made a new claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Universal Credit or Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) but do not have a date for an assessment appointment, you do not need to do anything. You will be contacted shortly by telephone or letter to let you know what will happen next.

If you are already receiving PIP, ESA, Universal Credit or IIDB you will continue to receive your current payments as normal.

If you have made a new claim or wish to make a new claim, DWP will continue to take claims for all benefits.

The government has postponed all face-to-face benefits assessments or appointments at the Jobcentre Plus until at least 19 June 2020.

 

This means you don’t have to go to:

  • Interviews if you’re starting a claim for JSA, ESA or Universal Credit

  • Medical assessment for ESA, Universal Credit or PIP, although you may have a phone assessment

  • Appointments with your work coach

 

Already receiving PIP but have recently completed a renewal form, your payments will continue

 

Useful web links

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/health/coronavirus-what-it-means-for-you/

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/

http://advicenottingham.org.uk/get-help/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

https://www.gov.uk/contact-jobcentre-plus

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