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Covid-19 Updates | South Lakes Housing

Covid-19 Updates

  • Vital Gas Safety InspectionsRead more

    We understand that we are in uncertain and worrying times but the safety of our customers is our main priority. As we are all now spending more time at home it is essential that your gas appliances are working correctly and safely. There is a legal requirement, which hasn’t changed due to Coronavirus, for us to carry out essential gas safety checks in your home and these are vital to protect you and your family. For more information on our legal requirements for gas safety checks please click here.

    If you have a gas safety check booked we will be in contact with you prior to an engineer arriving to ensure that it is safe for us to carry out the appointment and you are happy for the appointment to go ahead.

    If you are a vulnerable customer and are self-isolating due to coronavirus please contact us and let us know so that we can reschedule your appointment to carry out the gas safety checks once the isolation period is over.

    If your gas safety check is due, we will continue to contact you to arrange an appointment.

    When a gas safety check is taking place we will follow these procedures:

    • We aim to complete the appointment as soon as possible as your safety is our top priority.
    • You are not required to be in the room whilst our gas engineer carries out the inspection.
    • Our gas engineers will only enter rooms where they need to carry out inspections and will comply with social distancing.
    • Our gas engineers will follow full Safe Systems of Work protocols and will follow all Public Health England hygiene guidelines. – They will leave your home clean and tidy and will sanitise any surfaces and areas they have come in contact with.

    If you refuse access we will continue to contact you about your gas safety check, we will make a note and rearrange your appointment based on the information you provide us. We have a legal requirement to carry out important gas safety procedures.

    If you can allow us access into your home to carry out these gas safety checks, please do. However, if you have any worries and wish to change your appointment or have any questions please do get in touch with us:

    For more information regarding gas safety checks please visit the Gas Safe Register Website

  • Test and Trace Support PaymentRead more

    The Government has placed a new duty on individuals to self-isolate if someone tests positive or is identified as a contact by NHS Test and Trace. To support those on low incomes who cannot work during their self-isolation period, a Test and Trace Support Payment of a £500 lump sum payment has been introduced.

    Who is eligible

    In order to be eligible for the Test and Trace Support Payment you must:

    • have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace either because you have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive
    • be employed or self-employed
    • be unable to work from home and will lose income as a result
    • be currently receiving Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit.

    If you are not receiving one of the qualifying benefits but are on a low income and self-isolation will cause you hardship, or you do not currently have Recourse to Public Funds, you may still be entitled under a special discretionary scheme.

    To be considered for the discretionary scheme you need evidence that:

    • your household is on a low income. We will look at whether your level of household income for the period of self-isolation would normally be eligible for state benefits
    • you have basic living costs that you cannot meet such as rent, food, fuel etc and don’t have savings or other income to meet these costs

    Who is not eligible

    You will not be eligible for this scheme if you:

    • are quarantining after travelling abroad (unless you test positive during the 14-day quarantine period)
    • continue to receive full wages while you self-isolate
    • can work from home during a period of self-isolation
    • are no longer required to self-isolate. eg your period of self-isolation ended before the scheme was launched on 28th September 2020
    • have not received a notification from NHS Test and Trace telling you to self-isolate

    Apply for a test and trace support payment here.

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Emergency support helplineRead more

    New emergency support line for vulnerable people needing urgent help

    Cumbria County Council and partners have launched a new emergency support service for people at high risk of becoming seriously ill, as a result of COVID-19, and who do not have support available from friends, family or neighbours.

    The Emergency telephone support line is 0800 783 1966.

    Or you can email your request for help to COVID19support@cumbria.gov.uk.

    The telephone ‘call’ centre will operate from Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and 10am to 2pm at weekends. The service will also accept referrals from members of the public who may be concerned about people in their community

    The helpline is there to support those at ‘high risk’ and include people over 70 years old, pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions who should be protecting themselves by staying at home. The majority of these people will already be receiving support from family, friends or local voluntary groups with tasks like shopping or collection of medicines if they require it. But we know that a small number of people will not have this support. If they have no alternative, these people will now be able to call the Freephone number to request help with getting food, medicines, essential supplies and home deliveries.

    Cumbria County Council has been working closely with District Councils, CVS, Cumbria Community Foundation, community and voluntary sector, private sector and military to establish these new arrangements. To support the new helpline every area is coordinating a supply of essential food, medicines and supplies which can only be accessed via the emergency helpline or email. The requests received asking for help will then be matched with local support and supplies being offered by community groups, volunteers, councils and businesses.

  • Coronavirus Update-28.10.20Read more

    The safety and wellbeing of our customers, colleagues and contractors remains our number one top priority and we understand that many of you will have concerns around coronavirus. We are taking steps to minimise the disturbance of our services and the potential spread of coronavirus to our customers, colleagues and contractors.

    We are constantly monitoring this situation and will continue to follow the latest advice and guidance provided by the Government.

    We have reviewed our guidelines on the wearing of face coverings. Face masks will be worn by staff when in personal contact with customers who may have coronavirus and when entering and exiting our buildings.

    We will also enforce the 2-metre rule in the workplace and when in personal contact with customers, including in their homes.

    When you contact us to arrange a visit to your home we will ask whether you are self-isolating, shielding or have coronavirus. If your situation changes and you need to self-isolate, shield or have coronavirus, please inform us prior to our visit and we will be able to determine whether your repair is still to be carried out or be re-arranged.

    Repairs

    We would like to let you know that at the moment we are experiencing delays in our repairs service. This is due to some of our operatives having to self- isolate and we would ask that you are patient with us during this time.

    We understand your frustrations on this matter and can only apologise for the delays you may face.

    We will carry out your repair as soon as possible. If it gets worse while you are waiting for your repair to be carried out, please contact us immediately.

    This is an uncertain situation for everyone but rest assured we will do everything we can to keep your home safe and support you as best we can during this difficult time.

    When we are in your home, we will:

    • Sanitise our hands before entering and on leaving your home
    • Wipe down any surfaces we touch (with anti-viral / bacteria wipes)
    • Stay at least 2 metres away at all times
    • Aim to complete the appointment as quickly as possible

    When we are in your home, please help us by:

    • Staying at least 2 metres away at all times
    • Making sure other members of your household remain in a separate room
    • Opening all internal doors to minimise contact
    • Telling us if anyone in your household has symptoms,) are self-isolating or have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed

    Our “new normal” services:

    • Reception– Our reception at Bridge Mills office remains closed but we can be contacted via email, live chat on our website, phone or post (due to many of our staff principally working from home, contacting us by post is likely to extend our response times).
    • Investment work (i.e new kitchen or bathroom) – We will be in contact with customers directly who are due to have investment work take place in their home.
    • Face-to-Face Meetings– for sign-ups, viewings, inspections and repairs only.
    • PPE– Our colleagues are all following safe systems of work protocols and will wear appropriate personal protective equipment.

    The following websites contain useful guidance:

    If you have any concerns of support needs about yourself or those close to you, please don’t hesitate to contact us to see if we can help.

    You can also keep up to date with news from South Lakes Housing via our Twitter account @SLHnews or on our Facebook page.

  • Covid 19 Letter to Social Housing ResidentsRead more

    The Minister of State for Housing has published a letter to all social housing tenants on the steps being taken to reopen society and support people to move on with their lives.

    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/885686/Covid19_Letter_to_social_housing_residents.pdf

    The SLH website remains the primary source of information about the services you can expect from your landlord services. We are undertaking emergency repairs, essential Health & Safety works and some external repairs at this time. There is also work underway to prepare for other services to be delivered, including making all of our workplaces (including how we work in homes) as ‘covid-19 secure’ areas, in line with Government guidance. For the time being, we are not undertaking non-essential repairs and will be reviewing this over the coming days and weeks – thank you for your patience in this regard.

     

  • Coronavirus: Rent and money worries help and supportRead more

    We’re here to help

    Whilst we may be in unprecedented times at the moment due to the coronavirus outbreak, we are still here to help.

    It’s important to tell us if you are experiencing problems with paying your rent due to Coronavirus as there is a range of help available.

    We have a friendly and knowledgeable team who are able to provide specialist advice on claiming benefits, repayment plans and who can signpost you to local and national help available.

    Rent Payments

    Rent is still being charged as normal and we would encourage you to continue to pay your rent in full where possible. Paying as much rent as you are able to is better than paying nothing at all. We would encourage you to continue to do this to reduce your arrears, if you have any, and to avoid any action in the future.

    We realise you may need help from benefits to do this and our team are able to provide you with guidance on which benefits you may be eligible for.

    If you’re unwell or can’t work because of coronavirus we want to reassure you that no one will lose their home or face enforcement action as a result of financial hardship caused by the virus.

    Next Steps

    If you are worried about falling into rent arrears because you can’t pay us in the short term due to Coronavirus, contact us to set up a payment plan as soon as you can. You can contact the Income Team on 0300 303 8540 or customerservices@southlakeshousing.co.uk

    If your income has reduced, for whatever reason you may need to make a claim for Universal Credit.  Please do not put off applying for Universal Credit as you only receive help from the date you apply.

    For information about Universal Credit please follow this link https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-and-you/draft-uc-and-you

    And how to make a claim https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/how-to-claim

    You should be aware that people making new claims for Universal Credit will no longer need to call the Department of Work and Pensions as part of the process. Instead, the DWP will proactively call claimants if they need to check any of the information provided as part of the claim.

    Don’t delay, claim today

    Council Tax Support

    If your income has reduced you may be eligible for support in paying your council tax.

    If you are already claiming but your income has changed, you will need let your council know there has been a change of circumstances so they can re-assess your claim.

    Visit South Lakeland District Councils website: https://www.southlakeland.gov.uk/council-tax-and-housing-benefit/council-tax/

    Gas and Electric Support

    The government have launched an emergency package with energy suppliers to ensure you don’t face any additional hardships in heating or lighting your home during the coronavirus outbreak. If you are struggling with money problems or are repaying a debt, options will include:

    • reviewing bill payment plans, including debt repayment plans
    • payment breaks or reductions in how much you pay
    • giving you greater time to pay
    • in some cases access to hardship funds.

     

    Contact your energy supplier if you have a prepay meter tell them your self-isolating. They will send you out two weeks’ worth of gas/electricity or if you have a smart meter they will top you up.

    British Gas– 0333 202 9802

    EDF– 0333 200 5100

    Eon– 0345 052 000

    N Power– 0800 073 3000

    Scottish Power– 0800 027 0072

    SSE– 0345 026 2658

    Water Support

    United Utilities have published the following advice:

    “We wanted to let you know what we’re doing in response to the Coronavirus outbreak to protect our staff and customers.  We’re following the government health advice to make sure our customers and our colleagues stay safe and we are putting all the necessary measures in place to ensure this advice is followed by everyone. We understand this is a challenging time and we’ve put our robust business continuity plans into action so we can make sure we can still supply our water and wastewater services to all customers across the North West. Advice from the World Health Organisation is that the water treatment process – specifically the addition of chlorine which is routinely used for disinfection – will kill the virus. Remember, only flush the three Ps – pee, poo and paper. Please do not flush any kitchen roll, wet wipes or newspaper down the toilet as these can cause major blockages in the sewers”.

    You can find more information on their website: https://www.unitedutilities.com/Coronavirus-update/

     

  • Covid-19 Secure Standards’Read more
  • Being a Good NeighbourRead more

    We are in very stressful and worrying times especially for those who are self-isolating, unwell, have children at home and for those who are key workers providing valued help and support.

    We can all still be good neighbours during the Coronavirus crisis, we would ask that you be a good neighbour during this time.

    Be mindful of the Governments requirement of social distancing and that you need to keep a 2m distance between yourself and others that are not from your household.  You must ensure you do not have visitors to your home other than those persons providing an essential service.

    Wash your hands with soap and water often and do this for at least 20 seconds, even if you haven’t been outside you may have been in communal areas or touched door handles, hand rails, door entry panels and lift buttons.

    You can be a good neighbour by:

    • Being open-minded of your neighbours and aware that their lifestyle may differ from yours.
    • Keeping the volume of music, TVs and any audio equipment at an acceptable level and putting them away from walls that connect your neighbours’ home.
    • Carrying out repairs to vehicles or doing DIY, during daytime hours when it is least likely to disturb your neighbours.
    • Parking in a courteous way that doesn’t obstruct access or your neighbours right of way.
    • Making sure your pet doesn’t create a mess or noise that impacts on your neighbours.

    If you feel you are being affected by anti-social behaviour, please visit our report anti-social behaviour page

  • Resuming “New Normal” ServicesRead more

    With new safety measures in place, we have resumed our services. Some of our services have slightly changed to ensure we are complying with safety measures.

    We are complying fully with the government’s guidance on managing the risk of COVID-19 and the safety of our customers and staff remains our top priority.

    Our “new normal” Services

    • Reception– Our reception still remains closed but we can be contacted via phone, email, post or live chat on our website.
    • Investment work – We will be in contact with customers directly who are due to have investment work take place in their home.
    • Face-to-Face Meetings– for sign-ups, viewings, inspections and repairs only.
    • PPE– Our colleagues are all following safe systems of work protocols and will wear appropriate personal protective equipment.

    Our Commitment to You:

    As we resume our services, we want to reassure you that we have complied in all areas, with the government’s guidance on managing the risk of Covid-19:

  • Community Support and Useful ResourcesRead more

    We’ve made a directory of local and national support services available to help you and your families during the coronavirus outbreak. The directory includes financial and employment advice services, educational activities for children, and mental health resources. 

    Coronavirus

    NHS 111 diagnostic

    NHS

    GOV.UK

    Shielding and protecting

    Cumbria County Council – Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Emergency support helpline

    Money and benefits

    National Debtline

    Citizens Advice – debt and money

    Citizens Advice – benefits

    Step Change

    Turn2us

    entitledto

    GOV.UK

    Money Saving Expert

    Voucher scheme for those receiving school dinners 

    Benefit and Pension Rates 2020-2021

    Housing

    Shelter 

    Crisis 

    Citizens Advice – housing

    South Lakeland District Council- Housing Options team 

    Refugee, Asylum & Immigration Support

    Migrant Help

    British Red Cross

    Employment

    ACAS

    Citizens Advice – work

    Health and wellbeing

    Foodbank- Trussell Trust

    Foodbank- Kings Food Bank

    Next Door – local voluntary service

    Mentalhealth.org

    Mencap

    Mind

    Telephone befriending service for the elderly

    Online cognitive behavioural therapy site

    Children and adolescent mental health support resource

    Meditation/ relaxation and sleep resources

    Wellbeing advice

    Bereavement counselling

    Samaritans

    Self-help resources for mental health issues

    Every Mind Matters

    Dave the dog – a storybook to help children understand coronavirus

    Easyread guide to mental and physical health

    Recovery College- online course for coping with the pandemic

    Northern Cancer Alliance

    Disability & Impairment

    Disability Living Foundation Charity

    Disability Rights UK – Independent Living and Carers 

    People First- phone support service

    Community

    National Volunteer Service

    Call In Time- Telephone Befriending Service

    Age UK South Lakeland

    Domestic Abuse

    Springfield Domestic Abuse Support- South Lakeland

    National Domestic Abuse Helpline 

    Men’s Advice Line

    GALOP (LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline) 

    Bereavement 

    Cruse Bereavement Care

    Hospice UK

    Advice / other

    Law Centres

    Advice UK

    Age UK

    Advice Now

    Gingerbread- advice for single parents

      Educational resources and activities

      School closures

      Joe Wicks – Daily HITT and PE

      Boat Load Puzzles – Free online puzzles

      Drama Online – Online plays

      Online Courses

      Open University

      Vulture – Free Online Opera

      DuoLingo – Learn a language for free. Forever.

      Find inspiration right where you are

      BBC – Earn a Blue Peter badge

      BBC Bitesize

      BBC Games

      BBC Phonics

      Cbeebies Radio

      Crash Course – Videos

      Crash Course Kids – YouTube

      Find Out – Activities and quizzes

      Kids English Games

      Kids Maths Games

      Kids Science Games

      Redtedart – Arts and Crafts

      Toy Theatre – Educational online games

      Blockly Games – Learn computer programming skills – fun and free.

      British Council School Resources

      Kids Should See This – Educational Videos

      Maths Learning

      Mystery of Science – Free science lessons

      National Geographic Kids

      Nature Detectives

      Oxford Owl – Education Resourse

      Seneca – learn at KS2, KS3, GCSE & A Level

      Tinkercad – From mind to design in minutes

      Twinkl – School printouts

      Virtual museum tours

      World Geography Games

      Big History Project 

      GCSE/ A-Level/ KS2 and KS3 Resources

      iDEA – develop digital, enterprise and employability skills for free

      Ted Ed – Educational videos

      Kids Yoga

       

      Directory of Community Support for South Lakeland 

    • Domestic Abuse SupportRead more

      If you are self-isolating due to Coronavirus and feel at risk from a partner or family member in the home, don’t suffer in silence, talk to someone that can help. 

      In an emergency, always dial 999 – if you are unable to speak always press ’55’ when prompted to confirm an emergency.

      It is important to remember:

      • Domestic violence and abuse can be actual or threatened and can happen on a regular basis or once every so often.
      • It can happen to anybody, in different types of relationships.
      • People suffer domestic abuse regardless of their age, gender, social group, class, race, disability, sexuality or lifestyle.
      • The abuse can begin at any time – in new relationships or after many years together.
      • Children are affected by domestic abuse both in the short and long term.

      If you are a South Lakes Housing tenant you can contact us for support or for us to signpost you for advice. You can contact us by calling us on 0300 303 8540 or emailing: customerservices@southlakeshousing.co.uk

      Support Services:

    • Money, Benefits and Coronavirus –Your Questions Answered 31.03.20Read more

      Many customers are getting in touch about their rights to welfare benefits and money worries if they are affected in some way by Covid-19 (Coronavirus).

      South Lakes Housing will:

      • Offer advice and support to you about making any claim for benefits, including Universal Credit
      • Look to make affordable and realistic repayment arrangements if you get into rent arrears

      We’ve put together a quick guide to benefits for people who are affected by Coronavirus based on current Government advice, but how this affects you depends on your personal circumstances.

      For further advice please contact our Income Management team on 0300 303 8540 or email customerservices@southlakeshousing.co.uk

      Q. I could lose my job. What is a Furloughed Worker?

      If your employer cannot cover staff costs due to COVID-19, they may be able to access support to continue paying part of your wage, to avoid redundancies. If they did this it would mean that you are kept on your employer’s payroll, rather than being laid off. Your employer could claim a grant of up to 80% of your wage for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. You will remain employed while furloughed and your employer could choose to fund the differences between this payment and your salary, but does not have to. If your salary is reduced as a result of these changes, you may be eligible for Universal Credit.

      Q. I am at home ill due to the Coronavirus and won’t get paid. What help can I get?

      The government announced that employees who need to self-isolate due to Coronavirus or are sick will have Statutory Sick Pay, paid from day one of their sickness/absence. Your employer will tell you if you are entitled to contractual sick pay. Statutory Sick Pay is £94.25 per week (£95.85 per week from April 2020) and can be topped up with Universal Credit, including an amount to help you with your rent. Those affected by coronavirus will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance upfront as a loan without physically attending a jobcentre.

      Q. I am self-employed, what help can I receive?

      Those who are self-employed can claim Universal Credit, providing the usual eligibility criteria are met. However, from 6 April the usual 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 Coronavirus outbreak. New claimants will not need to attend the jobcentre to demonstrate gainful self-employment.

      Q. What if I am not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay?

      If otherwise employed but not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, you may be able to claim New-Style Employment Support Allowance if you have paid sufficient National Insurance contributions and/or Universal Credit. The Government has announced that N-SESA will be available from day one as a temporary measure.

      However, the Government has also announced a temporary extension of Statutory Sick Pay, to cover people who are unable to work because they have been advised to self-isolate, and people caring for those within the same household who display coronavirus symptoms and have been told to self-isolate.

      Q. I’m already on Universal Credit, and I’ve started to get Statutory Sick Pay. What happens now?

      Statutory Sick Pay is treated as earnings. The Department for Work and Pensions will automatically be informed of any Statutory Sick Pay received by the employee within the Monthly Assessment Period and your award will be adjusted accordingly. If you have been required by law to self-isolate, then you should also be treated as having a Limited Capability for Work and may be entitled to an extra allowance.

      Q. I don’t currently get Universal Credit, but my wages have dropped due to me being absent from work because I’ve been affected by coronavirus?

      Someone not currently in receipt of any means-tested benefits may find that their wages drop due to being absent from work as a result of the coronavirus. As long as you meet the general eligibility criteria for Universal Credit then you can make a claim for it. Whether you are entitled or not, and how much you are entitled to, will depend on your personal circumstances and income, so please get in touch with us to find out more.

      Someone who is currently in receipt of a means-tested benefit, and whose wages drop due to being absent from work due to the coronavirus, may be better off if they claim Universal Credit if eligible. The Department for Work and Pensions has stated that those affected by coronavirus will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive an advance without physically attending a jobcentre. People who need to claim New-Style Employment Support Allowance or Universal Credit because of the Coronavirus will not be required to produce a Fit Note.

      Q. What about Jobcentre appointments?

      As from 19th March, 2020 people in receipt of benefits do not have to attend jobcentre appointments for at least three months. People will continue to receive their benefits as usual, but all requirements to attend the jobcentre in person are suspended. Jobcentres will remain open, in particular for those unable to use the telephone or apply for benefits online.

      Q. I get Universal Credit and other benefits. I’m worried about missing appointments and being sanctioned if I’m affected.

      The DWP has announced that it is suspending all planned reviews and assessments of benefit claims for the next three months. This includes Universal Credit, Employment Support Allowance, Personal Independence Payments, Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance. It should be noted however that this suspension only applies to DWP initiated ones. Tenants should continue to notify any changes that could have a material effect on their benefit entitlement. For example, in the case of Universal Credit, tenants will still be expected to report changes via their online journal that impact on, their rent charge, family make-up, income etc. as normal. Similarly, if someone claiming DLA or PIP experience a worsening of their illness or disability, this needs to be reported as well, preferably as soon as this happens.

      People who need to claim ESA or Universal Credit because of coronavirus will not be required to produce a fit note.

      If people tell the DWP in good time that they are staying at home or that they have been diagnosed with Coronavirus, they will not be sanctioned. The DWP should review the conditionality requirements in your claimant commitment, to ensure they are reasonable. Customers who are staying at home as a result of coronavirus will have their mandatory work search and work availability requirements removed to account for a period of sickness

      Q. I am in receipt of Disability Benefits. What do I need to do?

      If your Personal Independence Payment award is due to be reviewed, claimants do not need to do anything. The Department for Work and Pensions will extend the current award and contact later to review Personal Independence Payment claim.

      If a claimant has returned the Award Review form the Department for Work and Pensions will extend current award and contact later to review Personal Independence Payment claim

      If a claimant is currently in receipt of Disability Living Allowance Adult and has been invited to claim Personal Independence Payment, they do not need to do anything and do not need to make that claim. The Department for Work and Pensions will extend their Disability Living Allowances Adult award and payments will continue. The Department for Work and Pensions will contact claimant in the future about claiming Personal Independent Payments

      If a Personal Independent Payment claimant has received a PIP2 form but is unable to return it as they cannot get assistance to complete it or leave their property to post it back to The Department for Work and Pensions, the claimant has have been given an extension to 90 days from when the form was issued.

      If a claimant has received an AR1 form but is unable to return it as they cannot get assistance to complete it or leave their property to post it back to the Department for Work and Pensions the claimant doesn’t need to do anything.  The Department for Work and Pensions will extend the current award. The Department for Work and Pensions will contact claimant later to reassess Personal Independence claim.

      If a claimant is due to attend a face to face assessment and hasn’t been contacted by anyone to cancel the appointment the claimant must not attend, they should await contact from the assessment centre. They may be invited to do a telephony assessment and should take part in this where possible

      The Department for Work and Pensions are very aware that for some claimants, particularly those with certain health conditions or disabilities, it may not be possible to carry out assessments over the phone. In addition, there may also be cases where the paper-based evidence is limited. DWP are therefore urgently working to identify the best approach in these circumstances and will take all steps possible to ensure individuals can access the financial support they are entitled to.

      Q. How will claims be processed if are there no face to face assessments?

      The Department for Work and Pensions has suspended all face-to-face assessments in order to safeguard the health of claimants and staff members. IAS and Capita will be in contact to advise what the next steps and alternatives in their assessment are.

      Q. As No Face to Face Assessments are taking place does this mean Personal Independence Claims won’t be processed?  

      No,  the Department for Work and Pensions will continue to accept and process New Claims to Personal Independence Payments without the need for the face-to-face assessment using the information claimants you have already sent to in to make decisions on claims, alongside any other information held already, and will be in touch with claimants if necessary. For existing claimants, benefits will remain in payment while alternative arrangements are put in place.

      Q. What about my rent? How will I pay it if my wages drop?

      A claim for Universal Credit includes the Housing Cost Element which reflects the rental liability on your property. If you are already claiming Universal Credit with the Housing Cost Element, therefore, you will need to advise the Department of Work and Pensions, through the Universal Credit helpline or via your on-line Journal that your income has changed. Similarly, those claiming Housing Benefit will need to contact South Lakeland District Council to let them know that their income has changed. The Housing Benefit award will then be adjusted accordingly. The Benefits Team at South Lakeland District Council can be contacted on 01539 793200.

      Q. Can I get help with the Council Tax?

      Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for Council Tax Reduction. For more information and to make a claim see https://www.southlakeland.gov.uk/council-tax-and-housing-benefit/council-tax-reduction-scheme/who-can-apply-for-council-tax-reduction/

      Q. What can I do about my bills and debts if I can’t work or my pay has dropped due to Coronavirus?

      If you have any bills or other payments that you cannot afford, please speak directly to those such as your Gas and Electricity suppliers, United Utilities, or other creditors straight away to explain your situation. Not all creditors have announced what they’re planning to do for their customers if they’re affected by Coronavirus. However, they will likely be willing to be flexible and supportive to try to prevent customers from getting into financial difficulty. Don’t delay getting in contact with them.

      Q. How can I top up my meter if I am self-isolating?

      Any customers who have prepayment meters and are self-isolating or unable to leave their home should speak to their energy supplier for their options.

      This may include:

      • someone being sent to top up your prepayment card or token
      • having funds added to your meter credit
      • having a preloaded gas or electricity card sent to you in the post

      Suppliers must tell you:

      • what customer service support is available, particularly if you are vulnerable
      • how you are supported if you can’t top up or could go off supply

      No credit meters will be disconnected during the outbreak.
      The latest guidance on energy supply and coronavirus can be found on the Ofgem website here.

      Q. My child usually gets free school meals- How can I get help?

      Children eligible for free school meals will benefit from a national voucher scheme allowing them to continue to access meals whilst they stay at home.

      Schools can now provide every eligible child with a weekly shopping voucher worth up to £15 to spend at supermarkets while schools are closed due to coronavirus.

      To find out more information on the Voucher Scheme click here. 

      Links to more information

      Statuary Sick Pay https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay

      New S https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-style-employment-and-support-allowance

      UC https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-and-you/draft-uc-and-you

      Claiming UC https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit

      Help to Claim     https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/contact-us/help-to-claim/