Financial help during coronavirus

Radian Group support

We know you’ll make every effort to maintain your rent payments but if you do get sick or can’t work because of the coronavirus, we’ll do everything we can to help you maintain your tenancy.

Our Welfare Benefits Officers and Tenancy Sustainment Officers have a wealth of experience in helping people access benefits they are entitled to as well as helping people to budget, save money and manage debts.

If you’d like to speak to the team confidentially about anything, please get in touch by calling 0300 123 1 567 and we’ll be happy to help.

External support

As well as our support, there are lots of other support agencies available for those who are struggling financially.

Government support

If you cannot work due because of the coronavirus, there are several options. Keep up to date with the latest government guidance.

 

If you’re in work and not claiming benefits

Statutory Sick Pay

If you cannot work due to coronavirus and are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay you will get it from day one.

To qualify you will need to be classed as an employee, earn an average of at least £118 per week and tell your employer you’re sick before their deadline. If you need to provide evidence to your employer that you need to stay at home due to having symptoms of coronavirus an Isolation Note can be obtained from NHS 111 online.

Agency workers are also entitled to statutory sick pay.

You will not be eligible if you are self-employed, getting Statutory Maternity Pay or have received the maximum amount of Statutory Sick Pay (28 weeks).

If you are not eligible to receive sick pay you can:

  1. Apply for Universal Credit and/or
  2. Apply for New Style Employment and Support Allowance
  3. Discuss the Job Retention Scheme with your employer (below)
  4. If you are currently receiving Working Tax Credits contact a welfare advisor

 

The Job Retention Scheme

On 20 March 2020 the government announced a new ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’ that aims to support businesses to help pay people’s wages. Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages of their workforce who remain on payroll but are temporarily not working during the coronavirus outbreak i.e. furloughed.

If you are a zero hour contract employee on the PAYE system then you should be covered by the scheme, with the amount your employer will receive based on your regular earnings.

What employers will need to do:

 

If you are self-employed

If you are self employed you can apply for Universal Credit. You may also be eligible for the new Self Employment Income Support Scheme.

 

New Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

There is a new Self Employment Income Support Scheme that will provide many self-employed workers with a lump sum grant payment in June.

The government will pay self-employed people (who are eligible for the scheme) a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three year, up to £2,500 a month. If you have not been self-employed for that long, a shorter period will be used.

This scheme will be open for at least three months although could be extended if necessary. They expect people to be able to access the scheme no later than the beginning of June.

Who will get this help?

HMRC will contact those that are eligible directly, ask them to fill out a simple online form, then pay the grant straight into their bank account. It is expected that the grant may not be paid until early June.

Anyone who cannot wait until then may be able to claim Universal Credit. The Minimum Income Floor has been suspended during the Coronavirus outbreak therefore their UC award will be based on their actual income and allowable expenses.

More information and guidance can be found here.

 

Universal Credit

You can apply for Universal Credit online. 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 wait times for Gov.UK Verify, so it may be easier to verify with a work coach over the phone.

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 job centre.

From 6 April the government is increasing the standard allowance in 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.

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 2020, the Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) will be temporarily relaxed for all self-employed claimants affected by the economic impact of the coronavirus. This means that self-employed claimants will be supported by basing their Universal Credit award on their actual earnings.

New claimants will not need to attend the job centre to demonstrate gainful self-employment.

 

New style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or new style Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)

If you have been working within the last two to three years and have paid and/or been credited with enough National Insurance contributions, you may be able to claim New Style Employment and Support Allowance or New style Jobseeker’s Allowance.

If you have been infected by the coronavirus or are required to stay at home and want to apply for ESA, the usual seven waiting days for new claimants will not apply. ESA will be payable from day one, and you can claim over the phone but you will need a fit note.

New style JSA can be applied for online and your follow up appointment with the DWP will be by phone. You can claim here.

New style JSA and New style ESA can be claimed on their 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 ESA/JSA.

Those getting Jobseekers Allowance will be treated as being capable of work when self-isolating i.e. due to having coronavirus, having symptoms or being in same household as some with coronavirus or having symptoms. This period will not therefore be counted as a period of sickness and so a person will not lose entitlement to Jobseekers Allowance because of coronavirus.

 

If you’re already claiming benefits

People receiving benefits do not have to attend job centre appointments for three months, starting from Thursday 19 March 2020. People will continue to receive their benefits as normal, but all requirements to attend the job centre in person are suspended.

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. You can do this using your online journal.

The DWP has temporarily suspend all face-to-face assessments for health and disability-related benefits. If you already have an assessment appointment arranged, you do not need to attend. Your assessment provider will contact you to discuss your appointment and explain the next steps.

If you have made a claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), 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.

 

Help with housing costs and Council Tax

You can apply for help with housing costs if you are claiming an income related benefit which is not paying full Housing Costs due to the benefit cap or bedroom tax (this may change).

You can apply for Council Tax Reduction for financial support with council tax bills. You will need details of your income and expenditure and be able to get bank statements into the council. Please use this link (Properties not in SSDC will have their own links).

A new Council Tax Hardship fund will reduce Council Tax Bills by up to £150 for anyone in receipt of Council Tax Support / Rebate.

 

Working Tax Credits

 I get Working Tax Credit – will this continue whilst I’m off work?

Whilst you are self-isolating you can receive Statutory Sick Pay or ‘New-Style’ Employment and Support Allowance, and you are then treated as still working your normal hours whilst you are receiving these benefits for up to a maximum of 28 weeks. So your Working Tax Credit is unaffected.

Will they re-assess my Tax Credits to take account of my lower wages?

If your wages have dropped because your hours at work have dropped then you need to check whether your hours drop below the minimum required to qualify for Working Tax Credit (WTC), this may end. If you continue to work the required number of hours to qualify for WTC.

If your wages are only dropping for a couple of weeks, your Tax Credits are unlikely to be affected and you can continue to receive your Tax Credits as normal. This is because HMRC will only reassess your entitlement to Tax Credits if your annual income reduces by £2,500 or more.

My hours have now dropped below those required to claim Working Tax Credit – so will my Tax Credits stop?

If you know that the reduction in your hours is going to last longer than four weeks and if your hours have dropped below those required for you to remain entitled to Working Tax Credit, you must notify HMRC and your Working Tax Credit award will stop – although you will be entitled to a 4 week run-on. If you are also getting some Child Tax Credit this can continue.

Please click this link for guidance on the Increase in Working Tax Credit awards.