Coronavirus: FAQs

Residents /  / Posted on 2020-03-19 00:00:00 by kimderry

We realise that many of you will be facing some worry and uncertainty around money and financial issues at the moment, given the current circumstances surrounding the coronavirus. To help, we've put together a list of frequently asked questions so you understand what help is available to you and what you should do next. 

I’m employed but I’m unwell or having to self-isolate. What does this mean for my money?
If you’re well enough, your employer may allow you to work from home. If so your wages won’t be affected. However, if you’re at home and unable to work you could lose your salary. 

Depending on your employer and the contract you’re on, you may get sick pay. If not, you can claim statutory sick pay. The government has useful information on this.
 
Can I claim sick pay?
If you cannot work due to coronavirus, you’re eligible for Statutory Sick Pay from day one. This applies from 13th March 2020. Statutory Sick Pay will be paid to anyone staying at home (self-isolating) on Government advice, not just those who are infected with coronavirus.

If you need to provide evidence to your employer that you need to stay at home due to coronavirus, you can get it from the NHS 111 Online. You don’t need a fit note from your doctor.

What about extra support?
If you‘re already getting help from your local authority for Housing Benefit or Council Tax support, let them know of your change to your income. The fastest way to do this is on their website.

If you don’t currently receive support with Council Tax reduction (help towards paying your council tax), then contact your local authority website to see how you can get help. 

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

If you aren’t getting help with housing costs, it’s worth seeing if you’re entitled to Universal Credit. You can find out what you’re entitled to.

I’m self-employed but I’m unwell or having to self-isolate. What does this mean for my money?
If you’re self-employed you may not have experience of claiming benefits. If you’re ill or self-isolating and you need to claim UC for the first time, the Government has said:

“We understand people who are required to stay at home or are infected by coronavirus may need financial support, and quickly. We announce that those affected by coronavirus will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance up front without physically attending a job centre.” 

Some people who run their own business might have their income ‘topped up’ by income-based benefits like Universal Credit (UC) or Housing Benefit. 

If you’re self-employed and receive UC, your Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) won’t be applied if you’re affected by coronavirus.
 
Can I claim extra help?
If you‘re already getting help from your local authority for Housing Benefit or Council Tax support, contact them about any change to your income. The best way to do this is by visiting their website.

If you don’t currently get support with Council Tax reduction (help towards paying your council tax) visit your local authority website to see how you can get help. 

If you aren’t getting help with housing costs, it’s worth seeing if you’re entitled to Universal Credit.  You can find out what you’re entitled to.

If you run a business or are self-employed and are concerned about paying your tax due to coronavirus, call HMRC’s helpline for advice: 0800 0159 559

There are also a whole host of measures, including business rate relief, that can be found on the Government website here.
 
I claim benefits, but I’m unwell or self-isolating. What does this mean for my money?
If you receive benefits and are unable to attend health reassessments or jobcentre appointments, special arrangements have been put in place.

If you tell DWP in good time that you’re staying at home on Government advice or have been diagnosed with coronavirus, you’ll not be sanctioned. 

If you’re claiming Universal Credit (UC) the Claimant Commitment, will be reviewed to make sure it’s still reasonable.

If you’re staying at home as a result of coronavirus, your work search and work availability requirements will be removed to account for a period of sickness.

If you’re already claiming UC and think you may have been affected by coronavirus, please contact your work coach as soon as possible. You can do this via your online journal, or call the UC helpline.

Jobcentre Plus staff are ready to support you if you’re required to stay at home.
 
I have a face to face assessment scheduled and I’m worried about how I’ll get to it?
Face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits will be suspended for the next three months.

The temporary move, effective from Tuesday 17 March 2020, is being taken as a precautionary measure. This is to protect vulnerable people from unnecessary risk of exposure to coronavirus.

This guidance applies to you if you claim any of the following:

  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Some Universal Credit claims
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.

The suspension of face-to-face assessments also covers new claims to these benefits.

I need to make a new claim for Universal Credit and have no idea where to start! What do I do?
Don’t delay making a benefit claim, even if you think you may be affected by coronavirus.

Contact us now, we can support you and prevent you getting into debt at the beginning of your claim.

You can apply for Universal Credit (UC) online. If you need to make an appointment, call the number you’re given when you submit your claim, and explain the situation. Jobcentre Plus staff are ready to support you if you’re required to stay at home.

If you need to claim because of coronavirus, you won’t be required to produce a Fit Note. If you’re affected by coronavirus you’ll be able to apply for UC and can receive up to a month’s advance upfront without physically attending a jobcentre. 

Universal Credit helpline available Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm:

Telephone: 0800 328 5644 (choose option 2)
Textphone: 0800 328 1344 (choose option 2)
NGT text relay (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 328 5644
Welsh language telephone: 0800 328 1744

Find out about call charges here.

If you cannot download the form or use the phone, you can get a claim form from your local Jobcentre Plus. You can also get the form in an accessible format, for example, braille, large print or audio CD by calling the UC helpline.

For more information about any aspect of UC, including how to make a claim, visit the Universal Credit homepage

I want to claim for Employment and Support Allowance, what do I do?
If you want to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) you won’t be required to produce a Fit Note. 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. 

To apply for ‘new style’ ESA, fill in an NSESAF1 claim form. You can either:

Universal Credit helpline available Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm:
Telephone: 0800 328 5644 (choose option 2)
Textphone: 0800 328 1344 (choose option 2)
NGT text relay (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 328 5644
Welsh language telephone: 0800 328 1744

Find out about call charges.

If you cannot download the form or use the phone, you can get a claim form from your local Jobcentre Plus.

You can also get the form in an accessible format, for example, braille, large print or audio CD by calling the UC helpline. For more information about any aspect of UC, including how to make a claim, visit the Universal Credit homepage

I’m struggling make a benefit claim, can Mount Green help me?
Of course! We’re here to help. Please contact your Income Officer in the first instance and we’ll guide you through what you are able to do. We can even refer you to our Welfare Benefit Officer for complex cases.

My employer has told me to take unpaid leave as the business is shutting, what does that mean for my income?
You will be able to claim Universal Credit (UC) from the day after your last salary. For more help on how to do this, see the previous question on claiming UC.

I’m a shared owner/leaseholder is there any financial help available for me?
The Chancellor has announced that all banks should give mortgage customers up to three months ‘payment holiday’ for those affected by loss of income due to Coronavirus. Please speak to your lender to see how this can help you. 

I have another question not covered in these FAQs
Please contact us and we will do our best to help you.

We understand this is a worrying time for us all, but please do not delay getting help if you need it.