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Financial support – coronavirus

We appreciate that many of our residents will feel a financial impact from the coronavirus outbreak. Here you can find some questions and answers which may help.

The information cannot cover every eventuality, but seeks to provide an overview of the support available if you are affected either:

  • financially, by loss or reduction of earnings; or
  • through having to self-isolate.

The Government is making announcements regularly and more measures or changes may be announced soon.

The legal requirement to self-isolate ended on 24th February 2022

Rules relating to Statutory Sick Pay and Employment and Support Allowance currently allow payments from day 1 for self-isolation and those with coronavirus ended on 24th March 2022 and waiting day rules will revert to normal. You may still be entitled to these if you are unwell and incapable of work with coronavirus. If in doubt make a claim.

Self-isolation payments for those who are employed or self-employed ended on 24th February 2022.

1. I am self-employed and not claiming any benefits at all at present. My income dropped drastically as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. I am not ill or self-isolating. Please note the requirement to self- isolate ended on 24th February 2022.

Self Employed Income Support Scheme
The Government ran the Self Employed Income Support Scheme where there were five lump sum payments made during 2020/1. This scheme is now closed and has been since the 30th September 2021. If you received any monies from these you need to put them on your Tax Return.

What about benefits?
You can make a claim for Universal Credit
During the pandemic self-employed people who were economically affected by the outbreak were not subject to what is called the ‘Minimum Income Floor’. This is a notional amount of income based on the number of hours you are expected to look for work multiplied by the National Minimum wage. This meant that self-employed claimants were temporarily treated as having the income they actually received which may have been NIL. In this case they were entitled to maximum Universal Credit.
If you moved to Universal Credit in the last year or started a business within the last year the Minimum Income Floor is not applied for one year.
For everyone else the Department for Work and Pensions are beginning to go through Universal Credit claims from the self-employed to decide whether you are ‘gainfully employed’ in your self-employment and if you are, to apply the Minimum Income Floor which in most cases will reduce your entitlement. Please note, if you are already making a net profit of more than this figure they will use your notified figures for your earnings. You have to notify them of your self-employed earnings on the last day of your assessment period.

The Work Coach does have discretion to still not apply this Minimum Income Floor rule if your business continues to be adversely affected by the pandemic and they can do this for two assessment periods at a time up to a maximum of six months.

What is gainful employment?
You need to show that:
⦁ self-employment is your main job or your main source of income.
⦁ you get regular work from self-employment.
⦁ your work is organised – this means you have invoices and receipts, or accounts.
⦁ you expect to make a profit.

If the Department for Work and Pensions decide as part of this process that you are not gainfully employed in your self-employment then you will be expected to look for work but the Minimum Income Floor will not be applied and they will accept your information about the level of your earnings from self-employment each month.

Making a Universal Credit claim now
To make a claim for Universal Credit now, you and any partner you live with, need to have £16,000 or less in savings. Those with savings of £6,000 to £16,000 will have a reduction in the amount paid. Business assets are ignored. Any earnings of you or your partner will be taken into account in the assessment. Universal Credit is usually paid monthly in arrears and although there is a five week wait you can apply for an advance.
You can request more frequent payments in certain circumstances.
Rent will be included in Universal Credit as well as amounts for your children. If you are a social housing tenant there may be a reduction if you are considered to have too many bedrooms. If you are a private tenant then the amount payable will be capped to the Local Housing Allowance. Deductions are usually made for people living with you who are adults, for example, adult sons and daughters aged 21 or over.

Check out how much you may be entitled to on this calculator.
Once your claim is accepted you can apply for an advance payment and although this is a loan which is repayable over 24 months it means you can get access to some money. You can also ask for a payment holiday from repaying this loan for up to three months.
Make sure you also apply for Council Tax Reduction from your local council.
Check with your local council whether any other help is available to businesses affected by the pandemic.
Check to see if your children are eligible for free school meals.
The Government is giving local authorities some additional funds to help households with bills and essentials this spring/summer. Make enquires at your local council.
If you are pregnant or you have a child who is under four check whether you can claim Healthy Start vouchers.

Tax Issues

If you are having difficulties paying your tax you need to contact HMRC to discuss options.

2. I am self-employed and currently claiming Tax Credits and/or Housing Benefit. My income has dropped drastically as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Self Employed Income Support Scheme

The Government ran the Self Employed Income Support Scheme where there were five lump sum payments made during 2020/1. This scheme is now closed and has been since the 30th September 2021. If you received any monies from these you need to put them on your Tax Return.

What about benefits?
You have two options here and you need to check whether you are better off staying on these benefits or making a claim for Universal Credit. Please note the Government made the way Universal Credit deals with earnings more generously since November 2021. However be aware that the way Universal Credit deals with self employed claimants means you may be subject to the Minimum Income Floor and this will affect your Universal Credit entitlement after one year. Minimum Income Floor does not apply to Working Tax Credit.
Check out how much you may be entitled to on this calculator.

If you are better off and can stay on Tax Credits and Housing Benefit you need to inform both HMRC and your local Housing Benefit department about the drop in your income. Both departments can reassess your earnings and your award(s). If you receive money from the Self Employed Income Scheme described above you will need to inform both the Tax Credits and Housing Benefit how much you receive as the money will be taken into account as income.
The complex rules of Tax Credits may mean that you may be better off making a claim for Universal Credit but check first on the benefits calculator.
Even if the calculation for Universal Credit looks higher you need to bear in mind that under Universal Credit they will give you one grace year when they will not apply the Minimum Income Floor. After one year if you are not earning at the level the Department for Work and Pensions expect then the Minimum Income Floor will be applied to your claim and this will usually reduce entitlement.
Once you have moved onto Universal Credit you cannot move back to your old benefits.

Making a Claim for Universal Credit now
To make a claim for Universal Credit you and any partner you live with need to have £16,000 or less in savings. Those with savings of £6,000 to £16,000 will have a reduction in the amount paid. Business assets are ignored. Any earnings of you or your partner will be taken into account in the assessment. It is usually paid monthly in arrears and although there is a five week wait but you can apply for an advance.
You can request more frequent payments in certain circumstances.
Rent will be included in Universal Credit as well as amounts for your children. Rent will be included in Universal Credit as well as amounts for your children. If you are a social housing tenant there may be a reduction if you are considered to have too many bedrooms. If you are a private tenant then the amount payable will be capped to the Local Housing Allowance. Deductions are usually made for people living with you who are adults, for example adult sons and daughters aged 21 or over.

Once your Universal Claim is accepted you can apply for an advance payment and although this is a loan which is repayable over 24 months it means you can get access to some money. You can also ask for a payment holiday from repaying this loan for up to three months.

Make sure you also apply for Council Tax Reduction from your local council or if you are already getting some help that the council is informed of the drop in your income and they can reassess your entitlement.
Ask your local council about any other help they may have available for small businesses affected by the pandemic.
Check to see if your children are eligible for free school meals.
If you are pregnant or have a child child under four check whether you can claim Healthy Start vouchers.
The Government is giving local authorities some additional funds to help households with bills and essentials this spring/summer. Make enquires at your local council.

Tax Issues
If you are having difficulties paying you need to contact HMRC to discuss options.

3. I am employed as an employee or recently employed and I have had an income reduction

Furloughed Workers
The Government had been running a package of support called the Job Retention Scheme for employers to continue to pay their employees if their business is in difficulties because of the outbreak. This scheme ended on 30th September 2021.
HMRC announced that the pandemic measures to allow those not doing their normal hours of work including those on furlough to retain entitlement to Working Tax Credit ended on 25th November 2021.
‘Customers do not need to tell HMRC if they re-establish their normal working hours before 25th November 2021, but from then on they must do within the usual one month window if they are not back to working their normal hours shown on their Working Tax Credit claim.’
For many this will mean they have to move to Universal Credit unless they are also getting Child Tax Credit and are shortly back on their normal hours and can reclaim Working Tax Credit. Otherwise it’s on to Universal Credit which may or may not be better depending on individual circumstances but check first on the benefits calculator.
Please note that once you claim Universal Credit your Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit will stop immediately and you will not be able to re-claim.

Make sure you also apply for Council Tax Reduction from your local council.
Check to see if your children are eligible for free school meals.
If you are pregnant or you have a child under four check whether you can claim Healthy Start vouchers.
The Government is giving local authorities some additional funds to help households with bills and essentials this spring/summer. Make enquires at your local council.

4. I have already lost my job and my employer is not going to keep me on. This may also include those working in gig economy or zero hours contracts if not treated as self-employed.

In most circumstances you will need to claim Universal Credit. If you have been paying class one National Insurance contributions and depending on your contribution history you may be able to claim Jobseekers Allowance (New Style) for six months. This may be useful if you have a partner who is working and together you earn too much to claim Universal Credit.
If you are already claiming Housing Benefit and /or Tax Credits check the situation of whether it is better to stay on these benefits or claim Universal Credit.
Once you have moved onto Universal Credit you cannot go back on your old benefits.
Check out how much you may be entitled to on this calculator.
To make a claim for Universal Credit, you and any partner you live with, need to have £16,000 or less in savings. Those with savings of £6,000 to £16,000 will have a reduction in the amount paid. Earnings of your partner (if any) will be taken into account. It is usually paid monthly in arrears and although there is a five week wait you can apply for an advance.
You can request more frequent payments in certain circumstances.
Rent will be included in Universal Credit as well as amounts for your children. If you are a social housing tenant there may be a reduction if you are considered to have too many bedrooms. If you are a private tenant then the amount payable will be capped to the Local Housing Allowance. Deductions are usually made for people living with you who are adults, for example adult sons and daughters 21 or over.

Once your claim is accepted you can apply for an advance payment and although this is a loan which is repayable over 24 months it means you can get access to some money. You can also ask for a payment holiday from repaying this loan for up to three months.
Make sure you also apply for Council Tax Reduction from your local council.
Check to see if your children are eligible for free school meals.
If you are pregnant or you have a child under four check whether you can claim Healthy Start vouchers.
The Government is giving local authorities some additional funds to help households with bills and essentials this spring/summer. Make enquires at your local council.

Those who are too Ill to work 

This is the Government’s advice about self-isolating and the coronavirus. This has changed. Please note from 24th February 2022 the requirement to self-isolate if you have a positive result is no longer required. The rules below allowing you to claim Statutory Sick Pay or Employment and Support Allowance (New Style) from day 1 because of the need to self-isolate were removed from 24th March 2022.
This is the Government advice about shielding for those who are extremely vulnerable. It changed on 15th September 2021.

1. I am working as an employee but I am too ill to work.

The Government has an online isolation note for proof for your employer where you will be asked a series of questions. You will need an email address to get this isolation note which you can give to your employer. The e-mail address can be a friend’s one if you haven’t got an email address yourself.

As an employee your contract of employment may give you rights to your normal wages for a certain period of time. As a very minimum most employees should be able to claim Statutory Sick Pay. This can be paid from day 1 of sickness. This is £99.35 per week and is paid to you by your employer. The employees who will not be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay are those earnings less than £123 per week.

These people are not able to claim Statutory Sick Pay but if they have sufficient National Insurance contributions may be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance (New Style). This is £61.05 per week if you are under 25 and £77.00 per week if you are 25 or over. It is paid fortnightly in arrears.

Please note the rules allowing you to claim Statutory Sick Pay or Employment and Support Allowance (New Style) due to self- isolation ended on 24th March 2022. If you are ill with coronavirus yourself you may still be able to claim these benefits normally if you are regarded as too ill to work under normal rules. The removal of the requirement to serve waiting days also changed on 24th March 2022.

If Statutory Sick Pay or Employment and Support Allowance (New Style) is all you have to live on you can also make a claim for Universal Credit for help with your rent. If you are a social housing tenant there may be a reduction if you are considered to have too many bedrooms. If you are a private tenant then the amount payable will be capped to the Local Housing Allowance. Deductions are usually made for people living with you who are adults, for example, adult sons and daughters 21 or over.

To make a claim for Universal Credit you and any partner you live with need to have £16,000 or less in savings. Those with savings of £6,000 to £16,000 will have a reduction in the amount paid. Any earnings of your partner will be taken into account in the assessment. It is usually paid monthly in arrears and although there is a five week wait you can apply for an advance.
Once your claim is accepted you can apply for an advance payment and although this is a loan which is repayable over 24 months it means you can get access to some money. You can also ask for a payment holiday from repaying this loan for up to three months.
If you are already claiming Tax Credits and/or Housing Benefit just check the calculator to see if you are better off claiming Universal Credit.
Once you make a claim for Universal Credit you cannot go back onto your Tax Credits.

Make sure you also apply for Council Tax Reduction from your local council.
Check to see if your children are eligible for free school meals.
If you are pregnant or you have a child under four check whether you can claim Healthy Start vouchers.
The Government is giving local authorities some additional funds to help households with bills and essentials this spring/summer. Make enquires at your local council.

2. I am self–employed or I am an employee with earnings less than £123 per week but I am too ill to work.

You are not able to claim Statutory Sick Pay but if you have sufficient National Insurance contributions, you may be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance (New Style). This is £61.05 per week if you are under 25 and £77.00 per week if you are 25 or over. It is paid fortnightly in arrears.

If this is all you have to live on you can also make a claim for Universal Credit for help with your rent and costs for children. If you are a social housing tenant there may be a reduction if you are considered to have too many bedrooms. If you are a private tenant then the amount payable will be capped to the Local Housing Allowance. Deductions are usually made for people living with you who are adults, for example adult sons and daughters who are 21 or over.

To make a claim for Universal Credit you and any partner you live with need to have £16,000 or less in savings. Those with savings of £6,000 to £16,000 will have a reduction in the amount paid. Any earnings of your partner will be taken into account in the assessment. It is usually paid monthly in arrears.
Once your claim is accepted you can apply for an advance payment and although this is a loan which is repayable over 24 months it means you can get access to some money. You can also ask for a payment holiday from repaying this loan for up to three months.
If you are already claiming Tax Credits and/or Housing Benefit just check the calculator to see if you are better off claiming Universal Credit. If it looks as if you are better off staying on Tax Credits and/or Housing Benefit make sure you inform HMRC and your council housing benefit department about your change in income.
Once you have made a claim for Universal Credit you cannot move back to your old benefits like Housing Benefit and Tax Credit.

Make sure you also apply for Council Tax Reduction from your local council.
Check to see if your children are eligible for free school meals.
If you are pregnant or you have a child under four check whether you can claim Healthy Start vouchers.
The Government is giving local authorities some additional funds to help households with bills and essentials this spring/summer. Make enquires at your local council.

Tax Issues
If you are having difficulties paying you need to contact HMRC to discuss options.

Things to Note
Jobcentres are open again for face to face contact. If you have any special reasons why you are not able to make your work commitments make sure you have informed your work coach (preferably through your online journal if on Universal Credit).
Things are being announced very rapidly at the moment so the advice above is current at 05/04/22.
Go to Turn2Us for the most up-to-date situation

I’m Being Made Redundant – What Am I Entitled To?

If you have been working for the same employer for two years or more then you should be entitled to Statutory Redundancy Pay.

The amount you will get will depend on your age and how many years you have worked for the employer. It is capped at 20 years.

The amount is
⦁ Half week’s pay for each full year you were under 22
⦁ One week’s pay for each full year from 22 to 41
⦁ One and a half week’s pay for each full year 41 or older.

Those made redundant on or after 6th April 2022 will have weekly pay for this calculation capped at £571. This makes the maximum pay for statutory redundancy pay (20 year cap) of £17,130.
You will notice this is more than the £16,000 limit for some benefits. Please note redundancy pay for means tested benefits is treated as a capital item not income and will be added to any other savings/capital that you have. Payments that are made in the form of holiday pay or payments in lieu of notice are treated as income for means tested benefits.

Please note that if you reduce your capital resources in order to be entitled to means tested benefits the Department for Work and Pensions will likely ask you what you have spent your resources on. They can also treat you as still having capital resources which you have deprived yourself of. If you spend any money on items such as replacement of furniture or other essential household items you need make sure you keep receipts and the expenditure is ‘reasonable.’

For more details about your redundancy rights visit Statutory Redundancy Pay and also check out ACAS website
Weekly pay is averaged over what you earnt in the past 12 weeks (please note if you have been furloughed and getting 80% of your normal earnings) it is your normal earnings that are used when calculating the amount.