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Coronavirus employment and benefits support | South Lakes Housing

Coronavirus employment and benefits support

If you are affected by coronavirus or its effect on the economy, there is a wide range of support available.

These pages provide information about the changes the government has brought in to support people who are already claiming benefits, need to claim benefits, or are at risk of losing their job as a result of coronavirus.

  • Sick PayRead more

    If you cannot work due to coronavirus and are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay you will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of your illness. This applies retrospectively from 13 March 2020.

    You may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay if you’re self-isolating for one or more of the following reasons, and you’re unable to work as a result:

    • You’re displaying symptoms of coronavirus
    • You’ve tested positive for coronavirus
    • Someone in your household (including an extended or linked household) is displaying symptoms of or has tested positive for coronavirus
    • You’ve been notified by the NHS or public health authorities that you have come into contact with someone who has coronavirus
    • You’ve been sent a letter telling you to stay at home because you’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (this is known as ‘shielding’), for example, if you live or work in an area where local restrictions are in place, or shielding guidance has been reintroduced nationally
    • You’ve been advised by a doctor or clinician to self-isolate before being admitted to hospital for planned or elective surgery

    Other eligibility conditions apply. Check your eligibility for Statutory Sick Pay

    If you are a gig worker and/or on a zero-hours contract, you may be entitled to sick pay.

    You may be able to get Universal Credit and Statutory Sick Pay at the same time. If you are receiving Statutory Sick Pay it may be a good idea to apply for Universal Credit as well, particularly if you pay rent or have children to support. If you get both, your Statutory Sick Pay will be taken into account when calculating your Universal Credit payment.

    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. If you live with someone that has symptoms, an Isolation Note can be obtained from the NHS website

    If you are not eligible to receive sick pay you can apply for Universal Credit and/or apply for New Style Employment and Support Allowance

    You can also apply for these if you are prevented from working because of a risk to public health.

    See the frequently asked questions on Statutory Sick Pay.

  • Already claiming benefitsRead more

    Managing your Universal Credit claim

    You can manage your Universal Credit claim using your online account. You do not need to call DWP as part of your new Universal Credit claim anymore.

    Your Universal Credit payments

    Your Universal Credit statement will show how much you will be paid this month. You can find the day your statement will be available, and the day you will be paid, in the ‘Home’ section of your online account, under ’What Happens Next’.

    If you or your partner have received any wages or income since applying for Universal Credit these will be taken into account when calculating your first payment. Remember to keep checking your online journal for messages from DWP.

    Changes to jobcentre appointments

    You do not need to attend the jobcentre unless we ask you to do so. If you need to contact us the quickest way to do this is online or by phone.

    If you need to attend a jobcentre, they are open and one of our colleagues will be able to assist you. You will be required to wear a face covering when entering a jobcentre, unless you are in an exempt category. Please also follow the latest government guidance on meeting with others safely and local restrictions

    If we need to make an appointment with you, this will be on the phone. We will leave a message in your journal before we call you.

    If you are an existing Universal Credit claimant you will be paid as normal, you do not need to contact us. Our online service is working as normal and everything you need should be available in your account.

    Although staff are working on our Universal Credit telephone lines as normal, we are exceptionally busy. You do not need to call us unless you are not able to use your online account. It is important that our telephone lines are available for our most vulnerable customers, using your online account as much as possible will help protect this service.

    People can still make applications for benefits online if they are eligible. Find out more about making a new claim

    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, using your online journal

    See the frequently asked questions on suspending jobcentre appointments.

    DWP can support you if you are a victim of domestic abuse. We are here to help.

    We can help you access temporary accommodation such as a refuge, and put you in touch with expert local advice and support networks. The jobcentre can support you by helping you make a new application for Universal Credit, and you can apply for an advance payment where needed, which can provide quicker access to money. From this moment your ex-partner will not have access to any information about your new claim.

    Changes to health assessments

    In light of the current coronavirus outbreak, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has taken the precautionary decision to temporarily suspend all face-to-face assessments for health and disability-related benefits. This is aimed at reducing the risk of exposure to coronavirus and safeguarding the health of individuals claiming health and disability benefits, many of whom are likely to be at greater risk due to their pre-existing health conditions.

    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 to you.

    If you have made a 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. Due to unprecedented demand, it is advisable to make a claim online and to avoid peak hours where possible. Find out more about making a new claim

    Read the current NHS guidelines on coronavirus, including advice on those who should stay at home.

    See the frequently asked questions on suspending face-to-face health assessments.

    Changes to how much you’ll get

    The government has increased the standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit for one year. Both have increased by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating. This applies 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 has increased from £317.82 to £409.89 per month.

    Local Housing Allowance rates have been increased to the 30th percentile of market rents. This applies to all private renters who are new Universal Credit claimants, or have an existing Universal Credit claim that includes a housing element, and to existing Housing Benefit claimants.

    Test and Trace Support Payments

    You may be eligible for a Test and Trace Support Payment of £500 if all of the following apply to you:

    • You live and work in England
    • You have been told to stay at home and self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace (by phone, email, letter or text message) on or after 28 September 2020. This can be either because you have tested positive for coronavirus or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive
    • You are employed or self-employed
    • You are unable to work from home and will lose income as a result of self-isolating
    • You are currently receiving Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit

    If you are not eligible for a Test and Trace Support Payment, you may be able to get a £500 ‘discretionary payment’ instead. You could get this if you are facing financial hardship because you cannot work from home, and as a result will lose income while you are self-isolating.

    Your local authority will have details of how to apply for the Test and Trace Support Payment and the discretionary payment in your area. The eligibility rules for the discretionary payment are set by local authorities – they will have information about how it works where you live.

    Read more about the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme. Read about the £500 self-isolation payments that are being introduced in Wales.

    If you receive a Test and Trace Support Payment or a discretionary payment, this will not affect your Universal Credit payments.

    Changes to your earnings

    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.

    Self-employment

    If you are self-employed and claiming Universal Credit, see the section on self-employment

    Childcare costs during the coronavirus outbreak

    If you are getting Universal Credit, you will be repaid costs for childcare that has taken place and you have already paid for.

    You will continue to be repaid childcare costs with your Universal Credit if you are a critical worker or if you are a non-critical worker who has access to registered childcare. You will be able to claim back up to 85% of those costs, up to a maximum amount of £646.35 per month for one child, or £1108.04 per month for 2 or more children.

    Read more about Universal Credit and childcare

    It’s important to note that – at the end of any assessment period – you can only be reimbursed for childcare that has actually taken place during that assessment period. Read more about paying for childcare in advance

    Read more about all government childcare offers on Childcare Choices

  • Making a New ClaimRead more

    If you have lost your job or are working reduced hours you may be able to claim:

    • Universal Credit- including help with your rent
    • New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (New Style JSA)
    • New Style Employment and Support Allowance (New Style ESA)
    • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

    See below for more information about each of these benefits.

    New Style JSA and New Style ESA can be claimed on their own or at the same time as Universal Credit, so it may be a good idea to apply for Universal Credit anyway, particularly if you pay rent or have children to support.

    Use a benefits calculator to find out what benefits you might be entitled to.

    Universal Credit

    You may be eligible for Universal Credit if:

    • you’re on a low income or out of work
    • you’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
    • you’re under State Pension age (or your partner is)
    • you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you, and
    • you live in the UK

    Read more about eligibility for Universal Credit. If you’re eligible you can apply for Universal Credit online.

    You can’t claim Universal Credit if you:

    • get the severe disability premium, or are entitled to it, or
    • got or were entitled to the severe disability premium in the last month, and you’re still eligible for it

    but you may be eligible for contributory or income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

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

    If you currently receive tax credits

    If you currently receive tax credits from HMRC please be aware that if you submit a claim for Universal Credit your tax credit award will end immediately. If your tax credit award ends it cannot be re-opened, and it will not be possible to make a new tax credits claim in the future.

    If you are an existing tax credit claimant, this does not mean you will be automatically eligible to receive Universal Credit. If you submit a Universal Credit claim your tax credit award will be closed immediately, even if you are not eligible to claim Universal Credit.

    There are some differences between the eligibility criteria for Universal Credit and tax credits, including (but not limited to) your savings and residency status.

    If you currently receive tax credits, please check the eligibility criteria for Universal Credit before you submit a Universal Credit claim. If your tax credit award has not ended, you will need to decide whether remaining on tax credits or claiming Universal Credit is better for you, based on your own personal circumstances. You can use a benefits calculator to check your possible entitlement.

    New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (New Style JSA)

    You may be eligible for New Style JSA if:

    • you’re unemployed or working less than 16 hours a week
    • you have been working as an employee, usually within the last 2 to 3 years, and have paid or been credited with enough National Insurance contributions
    • you do not have an illness or disability that limits your ability to work
    • you’re under State Pension age
    • you’re not in full time education, and
    • you live in the UK

    Read more about eligibility for New Style JSA. If you’re eligible you can apply for New Style JSA online.

    Your savings and capital (or your partner’s savings, capital and income) are not taken into account when claiming New Style JSA. However, your earnings and any payment you are getting from a pension can affect the amount you may receive.

    New-Style JSA can be paid for a maximum of 182 days. If you are also receiving Universal Credit then your Universal Credit payments will continue as long as your other circumstances have not changed. If you are not receiving Universal Credit, you can check your eligibility for Universal Credit to see if you could receive it.

    New Style Employment and Support Allowance (New Style ESA)

    You may be eligible for New Style ESA if:

    • you are ill or have a health condition or disability that limits your ability to work
    • you are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), or your entitlement to SSP is coming to an end
    • you have been working (either as an employee or self-employed) within the last 2 to 3 years and have paid, or been credited with, enough National Insurance contributions
    • you are 16 or over, and
    • you are under State Pension age

    You may also be able to apply for New Style ESA if you’re not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay and one of the following applies:

    • you or your child has symptoms of coronavirus
    • you or your child are self-isolating because you came into contact with someone who might have coronavirus
    • you have been told to stay at home for at least 12 weeks by the NHS because you’re at high risk of severe illness

    Read more about eligibility for New Style ESA

    Your (or your partner’s) savings will not affect how much New Style ESA you’re paid. If your partner works, it does not affect your claim. Most income is not taken into account, but a personal pension can affect the amount you may receive.

    You can apply for New Style ESA online. If you can’t make an application online, you can apply by calling the Universal Credit helpline

    Changes because of coronavirus

    Contacting DWP

    To help the DWP get through the unprecedented number of Universal Credit claims, they have changed how they process them. This means there is no need to call them. If they need to check any information provided as part of your claim with you – they will call you. Don’t worry, they are working hard to progress all of the claims. There is no need to contact them to check progress.

    You should apply for Universal Credit online. You do not need to call DWP to arrange an appointment and you shouldn’t attend the jobcentre unless we ask you to. However, jobcentre staff will still meet vulnerable customers including those fleeing domestic abuse.

    They will know that you have applied and will contact you if they need any more information from you to process any payment you are due. They will put a note into your online account and follow up with a phone call – this may appear as a private number. Please check your online account and look out for calls from them.

    If you’ve recently applied for Universal Credit, your claim starts the day you submit your application online. This date is not reliant on your identity being verified online or linked to the date of any further contact. However, your identity will need to be verified before you can receive your first Universal Credit payment.

    Depending on your circumstances, you might need to take part in a telephone interview with a work coach. They will contact you if this is the case – you do not need to call them.

    If you can’t attend your telephone interview please let them know as soon as possible using your online account so that it can be rearranged. If they ask you to attend a telephone interview, your Universal Credit claim won’t be able to proceed until that interview has taken place.

    DWP will never text or email asking for personal information or bank details.

    If you cannot use digital services at all, Universal Credit applications can still be made over the phone.

    If you’re a new customer and are having a problem verifying your identity online do not worry – your claim has been submitted. Your jobcentre will know you have applied online, they will call you if they need to confirm any information with you in order to progress your claim.

    The DWP phone systems mean calls from them may display as 0800 numbers, or an unknown number. If you get a call from an unknown number following our message in your account please pick up, as it’s likely to be DWP. They will of course ensure that you know the call is genuine.

    Please note, there are scams preying on people, so do not share information if you’re not sure the call is from DWP. If you are in any doubt, please ask the caller to post a specific form of words into your journal so you can be sure it’s us.

    Making a claim

    If you need to claim Universal Credit, New Style ESA or ESA because of coronavirus, you will not be required to produce medical evidence to start your claim. Depending on your circumstances you may need to provide medical evidence at a later date, and we will let you know if we need this. You should begin your online claim as soon as possible.

    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.

    If you are suffering from coronavirus – or have been advised to stay at home in line with government guidelines – and want to apply for ESA, the usual 7 waiting days for new claimants will not apply. ESA will be payable from day one.

    Maternity support

    If you are pregnant or have recently had a baby, you may be entitled to other financial support.

    The Sure Start Maternity Grant (SSMG) is a one-off payment of £500 to help towards the costs of having a child.

    To get it you must have received health advice from a certified health professional and be claiming certain benefits or tax credits. Read more about eligibility for SSMG

    To make it easier to get this help during the coronavirus outbreak, you no longer need to get a health professional to complete the SSMG application form before returning it – other types of evidence will be accepted.

    To help if you’re self-isolating or shielding, DWP will accept SSMG application forms up to 3 months after childbirth. And DWP will now contact customers by phone if they need further information.

    If you have been furloughed and started a period of Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance on or after 25 April 2020, the amount you receive will be based on your full pay, not the amount  you were getting on furlough. Those whose period of family-related pay or Maternity Allowance began prior to 25 April 2020 may see their entitlement affected.

    Other rules for Statutory Maternity Pay and Maternity Allowance remain the same. You should tell your employer that you want to stop work to have a baby, or claim Maternity Allowance, in the usual way. Normal notice periods and timescales continue to apply.

    You cannot claim Maternity Allowance at the same time as receiving furlough pay. If you have been placed on furlough and you are receiving Maternity Allowance you must contact DWP as soon as possible to stop your Maternity Allowance payments. If you are receiving furlough pay from your employer, you will be treated as ‘working’ for Maternity Allowance purposes.

    Find out more in the frequently asked questions about maternity support.

  • Self-EmploymentRead more

    Financial support could be available if you are self-employed and your business has been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

    If your business can no longer operate, or if your earnings have been reduced, you may be able to claim Universal Credit. If you currently receive tax credits from HMRC, please be aware that if you apply for Universal Credit your tax credits award will end immediately, even if you are not eligible to receive Universal Credit. Find out more about tax credits and claiming Universal Credit.

    And if you’re self-employed or a member of a partnership and have been adversely affected by coronavirus, you may also be able to use the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) to claim a grant.

    You can no longer make a claim for the second SEISS grant. However, the scheme will be extended from 1 November. Read more about the extension to the SEISS scheme

    You can make a claim for Universal Credit while you wait for a SEISS grant. When you receive the grant it may affect the amount of Universal Credit you get, but will not affect claims for earlier periods.

    Flow chart explaining the basic eligibility rules for Universal Credit and SEISS

    Universal Credit

    1. Check your eligibility

    If your income from your business has been reduced, or you are no longer able to keep your business going, you may be eligible for help from Universal Credit.

    Whether you can get Universal Credit depends on your circumstances, including any savings you have. Your business assets will not be taken into account when working out whether you are eligible for Universal Credit, nor when calculating how much Universal Credit you will receive.

    Other eligibility criteria apply. Read more about eligibility for Universal Credit

    2. Apply

    You should apply for Universal Credit online. If you currently receive tax credits from HMRC, please be aware that if you submit a claim for Universal Credit, your tax credit award will end immediately.

    3. Receive financial support

    If you’re eligible, the amount you receive will depend on your circumstances, and will take into account earnings from your own business or if you are working as an employee. If you are self-employed, it’s important to report any income you have received each month, including a SEISS grant. This includes reporting if you have had no income that month.

    You will usually get your first Universal Credit payment about 5 weeks after you submit your claim. If you need financial help during that period, you can ask for an upfront repayable advance. This may be up to the value of your normal monthly Universal Credit payment, and you can get this without physically attending a jobcentre.

    If you receive a SEISS grant or other large payment this may affect your next Universal Credit payment and could affect Universal Credit payments after that. Read more about surplus earnings

    For more about any aspect of Universal Credit see the Understanding Universal Credit website, including information about Universal Credit and self-employment

    Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

    You can no longer make a claim for the first two SEISS grants. However, from 1 November the scheme will be extended. Grants will be paid in 2 lump sum instalments each covering a 3-month period.

    The first grant will cover a 3-month period from 1 November 2020 until 31 January 2021. The Government will provide a taxable grant covering 40% of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £3,750 in total.

    The second grant will cover a 3-month period from 1 February 2021 until 30 April 2021. The Government will review the level of the second grant and set this in due course.

    More details about the extended scheme will be published shortly.

    Read more about the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and the extension to SEISS

    Watch videos about the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

    Find out about other help you could get

    If you’re self-employed and claiming Universal Credit

    The amount of Universal Credit you receive will depend on your circumstances, and will take into account your earnings, whether they are from your own business, from a SEISS grant, or if you are working as an employee.

    If you currently receive tax credits from HMRC, please be aware that if you apply for Universal Credit, your tax credits award will end immediately, even if you are not eligible to receive Universal Credit. If your tax credits award ends, it cannot be re-opened and it will not be possible to make a new claim for tax credits in the future. Find out more about tax credits and claiming Universal Credit

    If you are also claiming SEISS, this will be treated as earnings and so may affect your Universal Credit payment. If you are able to start working again, either full time or on limited hours, you may still be eligible to receive Universal Credit even if you are no longer eligible for SEISS. This will depend on your earnings. Find out more about how earnings affect Universal Credit payments

    If you are self-employed and claiming Universal Credit, it’s important that you let DWP know about your income, so that your Universal Credit payment can be processed. This includes reporting if you have had no income at all. You will be prompted to report your income and expenses in your online account as you get close to your payment date.

    Minimum Income Floor

    The Minimum Income Floor assumes income at the level of the national minimum wage at the number of hours you would be expected to work based on your circumstances. This assumed level of income is then taken into account when your monthly Universal Credit payment is calculated.

    To support self-employed claimants during the coronavirus outbreak, the Minimum Income Floor has been temporarily suspended. This means that self-employed claimants who have a Minimum Income Floor will have their Universal Credit payments calculated based upon their reported actual earnings, and not their Minimum Income Floor.

    This temporary change has been brought in to help self-employed people with the immediate impact of coronavirus, and applies to all Universal Credit claimants. You will be informed before the Minimum Income Floor is reinstated for you.

    Business assets

    Please note that if you are gainfully self-employed none of your business assets will be taken into account when working out if you are eligible for Universal Credit, nor how much Universal Credit you receive. Business assets include things like machinery, premises and cash held in your business account.

    If you are not winding-up your business you will not need to sell your business assets in order to apply for Universal Credit.

     

    See the frequently asked questions on self-employment.

  • FurloughRead more

    If you and your employer both agree, your employer might be able to keep you on the payroll even if they are unable to operate or have no work for you to do because of coronavirus. This is known as being ‘on furlough’.

    If you’re on furlough you’ll still be paid by your employer, and will pay taxes from your income. You cannot undertake work for your employer while on furlough.

    Your employer could pay 80% of your regular wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, up to a monthly cap of £2,500. They might choose to pay you more from their own accounts.

    Your employer is responsible for claiming through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on your behalf, and for paying you what you are entitled to. You cannot apply for the scheme yourself.

    Eligibility

    To be eligible you must have been employed on 19 March 2020, and on your employer’s PAYE payroll before or on 19 March 2020. This means your employer must have made an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of you to HMRC on or before 19 March 2020.

    If you were employed and on the payroll on 28 February 2020, but were made redundant or stopped working for your employer after that date, you can qualify for the scheme if your employer re-employs you and puts you on furlough.

    You can be put on furlough by one employer and continue to work for another. You can also be put on furlough by more than one employer.

    You can be put on furlough if you are on any type of contract, including a zero-hours contract or a temporary contract.

    Other rules apply – read more about eligibility for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

    Claiming benefits whilst on furlough

    If being on furlough reduces your income, you may be eligible for Universal Credit

    If you are eligible for Universal Credit, the earnings you receive whilst you are on furlough will be treated like any other earnings, and may affect how much Universal Credit you receive. Find out more about how earnings affect your payments

    Please be aware that if you are already receiving tax credits or any of the benefits that are replaced by Universal Credit, these will stop if you apply for Universal Credit, and cannot be started again.

    If you apply for Universal Credit, this will have no effect on your employer.

    If you were contracted to work less than 16 hours per week before you were placed on furlough, you may be eligible for New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). You won’t be entitled to New Style JSA if you were contracted to work for 16 hours per week or more, even if your earnings have reduced whilst you’re on furlough.

    If you are eligible for New Style JSA, the amount you receive may be affected by your earnings whilst on furlough.

    Use a benefits calculator to find out what benefits you might be entitled to.

    Taking alternative work

    If your contract allows, you may undertake other employment while your current employer has placed you on furlough. This will not affect the grant that your current employer can claim under the scheme.

    You could consider working in critical sectors – take a look at the new jobhelp website to find out more about finding and applying for jobs in these vital industries. Many of these vacancies can be found on Find a job too.

    If you have applied for a job and you have been invited to attend an interview you should firstly try to do this over the phone or online. If this is not possible, you should attend the interview, and follow the latest government guidance on meeting with others safely and social distancing. Any activities undertaken must be in line with the latest Public Health guidance during the coronavirus outbreak.

  • RedundancyRead more

    If you’ve been made redundant, financial support may be available whilst you look for your next job.

    If you’re at risk of redundancy

    Help with finding a job

    Claiming benefits

    Universal Credit

    New Style JSA

    New Style ESA

    Help dealing with debt

    What to do if you’ve been told you’re at risk of redundancy

    If you’ve been told that you’re at risk of being made redundant, or you’ve recently been made redundant, the Jobcentre Plus Rapid Response Service may be able to provide you with support.

    This could include help finding suitable training courses, finding a new job or organising work trials, as well as additional financial support to help with things such as travel to work expenses, childcare or the costs of training.

    Find out more about the Jobcentre Plus Rapid Response Service

    Help with finding a job

    If you’re looking for work, DWP’s jobhelp is a good place to start and can provide you with information and advice including:

    Claiming benefits

    If you’ve been made redundant or been told that you will soon be made redundant, there are 3 main types of financial support that could be available to you:

    • Universal Credit
    • New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (New Style JSA)
    • New Style Employment and Support Allowance (New Style ESA)

    You can find more information about each of these below. Other financial help may also be available.

    Depending on your circumstances, you might be able to claim a combination of these benefits. Use a benefits calculator to get the full picture of all the financial support you might be entitled to. This can calculate the amount you may be able to receive, and could include additional help such as reduced council tax rates or cold weather allowances.

    Universal Credit

    You may be eligible for Universal Credit if:

    • you’re on a low income or out of work
    • you’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
    • you’re under State Pension age (or your partner is)
    • you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you, and
    • you live in the UK

    Universal Credit replaces 6 existing benefits and tax credits:

    • Child Tax Credit
    • Housing Benefit
    • Income Support
    • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
    • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
    • Working Tax Credit

    If you already receive any of these and your circumstances change, it may mean that you need to apply for Universal Credit instead.

    Find out more about eligibility for Universal Credit. You can apply for Universal Credit online.

    If you currently receive tax credits

    If you currently receive tax credits from HMRC please be aware that if you submit a claim for Universal Credit your tax credit award will end immediately. If your tax credit award ends it cannot be re-opened, and it will not be possible to make a new tax credits claim in the future.

    If you are an existing tax credit claimant, this does not mean you will be automatically eligible to receive Universal Credit. If you submit a Universal Credit claim your tax credit award will be closed immediately, even if you are not eligible for Universal Credit.

    If you currently receive tax credits, please check the eligibility criteria for Universal Credit before you submit a Universal Credit claim. If your tax credit award has not ended, you will need to decide whether remaining on tax credits (if you would still be entitled to them) or claiming Universal Credit is better for you, based on your own personal circumstances. Use a benefits calculator to get an idea of what you might be entitled to.

    Redundancy payments and Universal Credit

    With Universal Credit, redundancy payments are treated as ‘capital’. Capital includes things such as savings and investments.

    If you and your partner (if applicable) have capital (including savings) over £16,000 you will not be able to get Universal Credit. Capital between £6,000 and £16,000 is treated as generating income, and may reduce your Universal Credit payment. Capital below £6,000 will not affect your Universal Credit payments.

    Find out more about how capital affects Universal Credit payments. If you’re already claiming Universal Credit, it is your responsibility to report any changes of circumstances, including changes to your savings and capital. You can do this through your online account

    If you are not eligible for Universal Credit you may be able to receive New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance or New Style Employment and Support Allowance.

    New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance

    If you have worked regularly as an employee over the last few years and paid enough National Insurance contributions, you may be able to get New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (New Style JSA). Your savings and your partner’s income will not affect your eligibility for New Style JSA.

    New Style JSA is a personal benefit for people who are looking for work and are unemployed or working less than 16 hours per week. New Style JSA can be claimed on its own, or alongside Universal Credit if you’re eligible for both. You may be eligible for New Style JSA even if you’re not eligible for Universal Credit or other types of financial support.

    If you get New Style JSA at the same time as you get Universal Credit, your Universal Credit payments will be reduced. For every £1 you receive from New Style JSA, your Universal Credit payment will be reduced by £1.

    If you receive New Style JSA you will be awarded Class 1 National Insurance credits, which count towards your state pension and may help you qualify for some other benefits. Universal Credit claimants receive Class 3 credits, which go towards the state pension, but not other benefits. This is why you may want to claim both New Style JSA and Universal Credit if you can.

    Read more about eligibility for New Style JSA. You can apply for New Style JSA online

    New Style Employment and Support Allowance

    You may be able to get New Style Employment and Support Allowance (New Style ESA) if you have a health condition or a disability that limits your capability for work. You usually need to have worked for at least 26 weeks over the last 2 tax years, and paid or been credited with enough National Insurance contributions.

    Your savings, your income and your partner’s income will not usually affect your eligibility for New Style ESA, but a personal pension may be taken into account.

    If you get New Style ESA at the same time as you get Universal Credit, your Universal Credit payments will be reduced. For every £1 you receive from New Style ESA, your Universal Credit payment will be reduced by £1.

    If you receive New Style ESA you will be awarded Class 1 National Insurance credits, which count towards your state pension and other benefits. Universal Credit claimants receive Class 3 contributions, which go towards the state pension, but not other benefits. This is why you may want to claim both New Style ESA and Universal Credit if you can.

    Read more about eligibility for New Style ESA. You can apply for New Style ESA online

    Help dealing with debt

    If you’re struggling financially then the Money Advice Service offers a Money Manager tool which can help you budget effectively and manage your money.

    Read more about help with managing your money whilst on Universal Credit.

  • FAQsRead more

    Statutory Sick Pay 

    I can’t afford to stay at home, but I’m infected or someone in my household is. What help can I get? 

    Those who self-isolate because they are (or someone in their household is) displaying symptoms of coronavirus, and are unable to work as a result, may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay. Other eligibility criteria apply. 

    People not eligible to receive sick pay may be able to apply for Universal Credit and/or apply for New Style Employment and Support Allowance 

    For those on a low income and already claiming Universal Credit: it is designed to adjust depending on people’s earnings or other income. If claimants are self-isolating and doing fewer hours, they should let the DWP know in the usual way via their online account 

    I’ve got to self-isolate because I’m told I came into contact with someone who has coronavirus. What help can I get? 

    Statutory Sick Pay is now available to those who are required to self-isolate because they have been notified that they have come into contact with someone who has coronavirus, and are unable to work as a result. Other eligibility criteria apply. 

    Does this apply to all workers in an isolated household, even if they are not ill? 

    Yes. If you’re self-isolating because someone in your household is displaying symptoms of coronavirus, and you’re unable to work as a result, you may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay. Other eligibility criteria apply. 

    The government suggests using Universal Credit if I don’t qualify for Statutory Sick Pay but that won’t provide me with money quickly enough. How will it work in practice? 

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

    Do I have to have been ill for a few days before I can get Statutory Sick Pay? 

    No. If you cannot work due to coronavirus and are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay you will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of your illness. This applies retrospectively from 13 March 2020. 

    The government has advised us not to use public transport and to work from home where possible – I can’t work from home and have to use public transport. Am I entitled to Statutory Sick Pay or benefits? 

    The government is asking people to follow the guidance where possible, including only making essential journeys. 

    You may be classed as a key worker, and if not your employer may be offering guidance about staying home. 

    If you are unable to work you can check if you’re eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance 

    Can I get Statutory Sick Pay and other benefits at the same time? 

    You may be able to get Universal Credit and Statutory Sick Pay at the same time. If you are receiving Statutory Sick Pay it may be a good idea to apply for Universal Credit as well, particularly if you pay rent or have children to support. If you get both, your Statutory Sick Pay will be taken into account when calculating your Universal Credit payment. 

    You cannot get Employment and Support Allowance at the same time as Statutory Sick Pay. 

    What do I need to tell my employer if I’m infected or someone in my household is?           

    Talk to your employer about the importance of staying at home to reduce the risk of spreading infection at work. If you are well, you may be able to work from home. 

    Employers are urged to be understanding where individuals are unable to work and need to stay at home as a result of following government coronavirus advice. 

    Those who self-isolate because they are (or someone in their household is) displaying symptoms of coronavirus, and are unable to work as a result, may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay. Other eligibility criteria apply. 

    Those who aren’t entitled to sick pay, including those who are self-employed, may be able to apply for Universal Credit and/or apply for Employment and Support Allowance 

    During an outbreak, it is important to reduce the risk of further spread of the infection. 

    Meeting the needs of those dependent on you for care will require understanding and support from employers, family members and friends. 

    I have a zero hours contract and/or work in the gig economy. Can I claim Statutory Sick Pay? 

    If you are a gig worker and/or on a zero hours contract, you may be entitled to sick pay. Check your eligibility for Statutory Sick Pay 

    Jobcentre appointments 

    If you’re already receiving benefits 

    Will I need to go into the jobcentre for any appointments? 

    If the DWP need to make an appointment with you, this will be on the phone. They will leave a message in your journal before they call you. You do not need to come into the jobcentre unless directed to do so, as they DWP are providing help and support over the phone. 

    If you are an existing Universal Credit claimant you do not need to contact the DWPThe online service is working as normal and everything you need should be available in your account. 

    Although DWP staff are working on the Universal Credit telephone lines as normal, they are exceptionally busy. You do not need to call them unless you are not able to use your online account. It is important that the telephone lines are available for our most vulnerable customers, using your online account as much as possible will help protect this service. 

    Will I still need to do jobsearch activity? 

    The DWP will contact you to discuss what steps you are taking to look for work, and to agree a new Claimant Commitment. You do not need to call them. 

    In the meantime you can use the Find a job service to search and apply for jobs. 

    You still need to tell the DWP if anything changes – use the ‘Report a change of circumstances’ link in your online account 

    What sort of jobsearch activity will I be expected to do? 

    The DWP will contact you to discuss your Claimant Commitment. In the meantime, if you are able to look for work safely while following government guidance on coronavirus, you should: 

    • update your CV 
    • consider your opportunities for returning to work 
    • search for jobs, for example on the government’s jobhelp website 
    • read about commitments and looking for work in the coronavirus and Universal Credit guide, which you can find in your online account 
    • make yourself available to start work. 

    You do not need to contact the DWP 

    What support can I get from my local jobcentre? 

    If you are able to look for work and it is safe to do so then you should continue to check Find a job and other online resources such as the government’s jobhelp website. 

    You do not need to attend the jobcentre unless you are asked to do so. If you need to contact the DWP the quickest way to do this is online or by phone. 

    If you need to attend a jobcentre, they are open and a member of staff will be able to assist you. You will be required to wear a face covering when entering a jobcentre, unless you are in an exempt category. Please also follow the latest government guidance on meeting with others safely and local restrictions 

    Will I still receive my payments? 

    You will receive your payments as normal. 

    If you need to make a new claim 

    How can I make a new claim if I can’t come to the jobcentre? 

    People can still make applications for benefits online. The DWP will keep taking new claims, and measures will be put in place to make sure that people get the financial support they are entitled to. 

    You should apply for Universal Credit online. You do not need to call DWP to arrange an appointment and you shouldn’t attend the jobcentre unless they ask you to. However, jobcentre staff will still meet vulnerable customers including those fleeing domestic abuse. 

    The DWP will know that you have applied and will contact you if they need any more information from you to process any payment you are due. They will put a note into your online account and follow up with a phone call – this may appear as a private number. Please check your online account and look out for calls from the DWP. 

    If you’ve recently applied for Universal Credit, your claim starts the day you submit your application online. This date is not reliant on your identity being verified online or linked to the date of any further contact. However, your identity will need to be verified before you can receive your first Universal Credit payment. 

    Depending on your circumstances, you might need to take part in a telephone interview with a work coach. They will contact you if this is the case – you do not need to call them. 

    If you can’t attend your telephone interview please let them know as soon as possible using your online account so that it can be rearranged. If they ask you to attend a telephone interview, your Universal Credit claim won’t be able to proceed until that interview has taken place. 

    The DWP will never text or email asking for personal information or bank details. 

    If you cannot use digital services at all, Universal Credit applications can still be made over the phone. 

    I tried to verify my identity online using GOV.UK Verify but it wasn’t working. What should I do? 

    If you’re a new customer and are having a problem verifying your identity online do not worry – your claim has been submitted. Your jobcentre will know you have applied online, they will call you if they need to confirm any information with you in order to progress your claim. 

    The phone systems mean calls from the DWP may display as 0800 numbers, or an unknown number. If you get a call from an unknown number following their message in your account please pick up, as it’s likely to be DWP. They will of course ensure that you know the call is genuine. 

    Please note, there are scams preying on people, so do not share information if you’re not sure the call is from DWP. If you are in any doubt, please ask the caller to post a specific form of words into your journal so you can be sure it’s them. 

    What about people who can’t use the Universal Credit online claim form? 

    Around 98% of people make their claim for Universal Credit online, but for people who struggle with computers, it is possible to make a claim over the phone. 

    Extra support is available including our Help to Claim service, delivered by Citizens Advice, which supports people with their application. Help to Claim in Scotland 

    I’ve been furloughed. Am I able to claim Universal Credit? 

    You may be able to claim Universal Credit if you have been furloughed and are on a low income. 

    Use a benefits calculator to find out what benefits you might be entitled to. 

    The earnings you receive whilst you are furloughed will be treated like any other earnings as part of your Universal Credit claim. Find out more about how earnings affect your payments 

    Your employer will not be negatively impacted as a result of you making a Universal Credit claim. 

    Work Capability Assessments 

    Why have face-to-face Work Capability Assessments been suspended? 

    In line with the latest public health advice across England, Scotland and Wales, the DWP have suspended face-to-face Work Capability Assessments for the time being. This is to protect vulnerable people from unnecessary risk. They will keep this under review. 

    The DWP are still processing health and disability claims, so you should still make your claim as normal. 

    This change does not affect or change any existing public health advice. The NHS guidelines on coronavirus include advice on who should stay at home. 

    Does this mean Work Capability Assessments are no longer taking place? 

    No. If it is not possible to complete a health assessment using the evidence you provided when submitting your claim, they may invite you to have a Work Capability Assessment by telephone. 

    Which benefits does this affect? 

    This affects Work Capability Assessments in both Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). 

    Read more about Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB). 

    How long will this suspension last for? 

    The DWP will be regularly reviewing the position in line with Public Health advice. When face-to-face Work Capability Assessments do resume, claimants will receive advance notice of any appointment they need to attend. 

    I need to claim health or disability benefits but am not currently receiving them. Does this mean I won’t be able to receive Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)? 

    No. The DWP will continue to accept new claims to Universal Credit and ESA. You should not delay making a claim. 

    Due to unprecedented demand, the DWP recommend that if possible you make your claim online. If you have to use the phone please try to avoid calling immediately after lines open in the morning. 

    I have applied for Universal Credit and/or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Will I have to attend a Work Capability Assessment? 

    All face-to-face Work Capability Assessments are currently suspended. 

    Wherever possible the DWP will conduct a health assessment based on the evidence you provided when submitting your claim. If it is not possible to complete the assessment using that evidence, they may invite you to have a Work Capability Assessment by telephone. 

    If this is the case, you will receive a telephone call or a letter from the Centre for Health and Disability Assessments (CHDA) that will provide you with further details and invite you to attend a telephone assessment. It may take some time for CHDA to contact you. You do not need to contact them. 

    I have been asked to make myself available for a telephone assessment. Why is this? 

    The DWP have currently suspended all face-to-face Work Capability Assessments. This is to protect vulnerable people from unnecessary risk. Wherever possible they will conduct the assessment based on the evidence you provided when submitting your claim. If it is not possible to complete the assessment using that evidence, they may invite you to have a Work Capability Assessment by telephone. 

    This will help make sure that you are paid the right amount of benefit. 

    Can I have someone with me for the call? 

    As with face-to-face appointments, you can have someone with you at your telephone assessment to offer help and support. This would usually be the person who knows you best and understands you and your needs (for example, a relative, support worker or friend). They must be 16 years old or over. They may be able to speak on your behalf and can offer useful support. However, the assessment will focus on you and the answers you give. 

    If your support worker/friend cannot be with you in person because of the current government guidelines on social distancing, the DWP can add them to the telephone call. They will ask you for their number and they in turn will need to be ready to answer the phone at the time of your appointment. 

    What should I do if I need a language interpreter? 

    Please let the Centre for Health and Disability Assessments (CHDA) know as soon as possible on 0800 2888777 (Universal Credit and ESA only). A relative or friend can be present at your telephone assessment to interpret for you, but they must be 16 years old or over. 

    How long will a telephone Work Capability Assessment last? 

    The Universal Credit/ESA telephone assessment should last between 20 minutes and 1 hour, but may take longer if necessary. 

    What about people who can’t engage over the telephone? 

    The DWP are 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 evidence provided at the time of the claim is limited. 

    Where it is not possible to carry out a telephone assessment or make a recommendation, Universal Credit and ESA claimants will remain on their current award until the DWP are able to conduct a face-to-face assessment or gather the evidence needed for a recommendation to be made. 

    I attended a Work Capability Assessment. When will I hear from you?  

    Due to the current situation with coronavirus it may take the DWP some time to contact you and let you know the outcome of your assessment. They will be in contact with you as soon as they can. 

    Will there be delays in rearranging my Work Capability Assessment? 

    The DWP anticipate customers may experience a longer wait for their assessment during this period, as they manage unprecedented volumes of demand for benefits. 

    If, following an assessment, they decide that you should get extra benefit, they will pay you any money they owe you. 

    What happens if my benefit was due for review? 

    Your current award will continue, while the DWP put in place alternative arrangements. 

    Is DWP’s Home Visiting service still running? 

    The DWP are suspending  face-to-face home visits across all benefits, with the exception of those customers who are most vulnerable. They will only be visited if it is safe to do so. 

    I have received an ESA50 or UC50 questionnaire. What do I need to do? 

    You need to complete and return the questionnaire by the deadline given in the letter sent with it, using the envelope provided. 

    The information you give in this questionnaire may mean a decision can be made about your claim without you needing to have a face-to-face or telephone assessment. 

    The DWP understand that during the coronavirus outbreak some claimants have not been able to complete and return their ESA50/UC50 on time. If you are self-isolating you must complete and return the ESA50/UC50 questionnaire as soon as you are able to, after your self-isolation period has ended. 

    If you are unable to return your ESA50/UC50 form by the deadline because of rules around coronavirus, it is important that you complete the late return section of the questionnaire to let the DWP  know why. They may also contact you at a later date to ask why there was a delay returning it to them. 

    If you require support with completing the ESA50/UC50 you can contact the Health Assessment Advisory Service by telephone on 0800 288 8777 or by email at customer-relations@chdauk.co.uk 

    I can’t get medical evidence from my GP/hospital to support my Work Capability Assessment at this time. What can I do? 

    The DWP understand that during the coronavirus outbreak, it might be difficult to obtain further medical evidence from a healthcare provider or your GP. You are therefore encouraged to complete and return your questionnaires as fully as possible and send in any information you already hold. It might be that this is enough for the DWP to be able to make a decision. 

    Maternity support 

    What financial support is the government offering pregnant women? 

    You may be eligible for Maternity Allowance, or Statutory Maternity Pay from your employer, depending on your circumstances. The Sure Start Maternity Grant (SSMG) is a one-off payment of £500 to help towards the costs of having a child. To get SSMG you must have received health advice from a certified health professional and be claiming certain benefits or tax credits. Read more about eligibility for SSMG 

    Those who self-isolate because they are (or someone in their household is) displaying symptoms of coronavirus, and are unable to work as a result, may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay. Other eligibility criteria apply. 

    If you are not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay you can apply for Universal Credit and/or apply for New Style Employment and Support Allowance 

    I’m pregnant and self-isolating. Can I get sick pay? 

    Those who self-isolate because they are (or someone in their household is) displaying symptoms of coronavirus, and are unable to work as a result, may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay. Other eligibility criteria apply. 

    If you qualify for Statutory Sick Pay you should be paid this by your employer from day one of your self-isolation period until you: 

    • are fit for work 
    • take up furlough pay, or 
    • your Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance payments begin. 

    If you are employed and you don’t qualify for Statutory Sick Pay, your employer must issue you with an SSP1 form which explains why. You can use this to support a claim for Universal Credit. 

    Any time off work due to self-isolation will be deemed as sick leave until you are fit for work, you take up furlough pay, or your Maternity Leave is due to start. At this point the usual rules will apply, and Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance replace Statutory Sick Pay for up to the maximum of 39 weeks. In these circumstances your Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance will not start early because coronavirus is not a pregnancy-related illness. 

    If I am off work due to a pregnancy-related illness close to my due date, will my Maternity Leave and Statutory Maternity Pay/Maternity Allowance automatically start early? 

    Yes. If you are in receipt of Statutory Sick Pay due to a pregnancy-related illness, into the period 4 weeks before your Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance is planned to start, it will start a month in advance. This is the usual rule and is unchanged. 

    If you are claiming Statutory Sick Pay because of coronavirus, your Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance will not start in advance as this does not count as a pregnancy-related illness. 

    My employer has told me I have to start my Maternity Leave/Pay early. Is that correct? 

    You will only need to start your Maternity Leave/Pay early if you are within 4 weeks of your Maternity Leave/Pay start date, and are receiving Statutory Sick Pay due to a pregnancy-related illness. 

    If you are claiming Statutory Sick Pay because of coronavirus, your Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance will not begin early as this does not count as a pregnancy-related illness. 

    If your employer tells you to start your Maternity Leave early instead of placing you on furlough, please remember that it is your choice when to start and end your maternity pay period (within the usual rules). 

    If my Statutory Maternity Pay/Maternity Allowance starts earlier than I planned, will it be extended at the end? 

    The DWP currently have no plans to extend Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance for more than 39 weeks. You may be eligible for Universal Credit and/or Employment and Support Allowance if you are unable to work. 

    Is staying at home because of the government guidance classed as a pregnancy-related illness? 

    No. 

    How do I get my MATB1 certificate (proof of pregnancy) if I can’t visit my GP, clinic or midwife, and they can’t visit me? 

    You do not need to meet a health professional for a MATB1 certificate. Your midwife or doctor can issue your MATB1 and send it to you by post. 

    I’ve given my MATB1 certificate to my employer and I can’t get it back. What can I use to support my claim for Maternity Allowance? 

    You could ask your employer to send it to the Department for Work and Pension on your behalf, or you can use the following documents to support your claim for Maternity Allowance: 

    • your baby’s birth certificate 
    • a letter or statement on appropriately headed paper, signed and/or stamped by a doctor, midwife or a responsible officer of the hospital or home in which the birth took place 
    • a certificate of stillbirth issued by a registrar 
    • a certificate to confirm that a premature stillbirth was delivered 

    I’ve been placed on furlough. Will my Statutory Maternity Pay/Maternity Allowance/Maternity Leave be affected? 

    If your period of Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance begins on or after 25 April 2020, your entitlement to Statutory Maternity Pay and Maternity Allowance will be based on full earnings rather than furlough pay. You will get what you would have received if you had not been placed on furlough. 

    If your period of Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance began before 25 April 2020, your entitlement may be affected. If being placed on furlough reduced your earnings, this may reduce the amount of Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance that you receive. 

    Your rights to Maternity Leave are not affected by you being placed on furlough. 

    If I return to work part-time can I continue to get Maternity Allowance and furlough pay? 

    You cannot get Maternity Allowance for days for which you receive normal pay or furlough pay. 

    If you return to work on the same working pattern as you did before being furloughed, Maternity Allowance ends in the usual way. 

    If you return to work on a different working pattern to the one you had before your Maternity Allowance pay period started, you may be able to continue to receive Maternity Allowance for the days you don’t work, or receive furlough pay, until the end of your Maternity Allowance pay period. You need to tell DWP about any change in your circumstances. 

    Will employers still be able to recover the cost of statutory payments from the government? 

    The normal rules still apply. Employers will be able to recover 92% of the cost of statutory pay from the government, or 103% if they are a small employer. 

    I’m self-employed and pregnant/have just had a baby. Can I get help from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme? 

    You can get help from Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) even if you take a maternity break, as long as you intend to carry on trading after your maternity break ends. 

    You can get both Maternity Allowance and help from SEISS at the same time, as long as you meet other conditions. Check if you can claim a grant through SEISS 

    How do I apply for a Sure Start Maternity Grant (SSMG) during the coronavirus outbreak? 

    You can start your application for the Sure Start Maternity Grant (SSMG) by printing an SSMG claim form 

    Once you have completed the form post it to ‘Freepost DWP SSMG’. You do not need a postcode or stamp. 

    Please do not take your completed form to a jobcentre as it may be closed. 

    How do I get my SSMG claim form signed by a health professional if I am self-isolating/shielding, or if I am unable to get an appointment at the surgery? 

    If you cannot see your doctor or midwife but you have a MATB1 certificate (you will get this from your doctor or midwife no more than 20 weeks before the due date), the DWP will accept that instead. Please send it with your completed SSMG claim form. 

    If you do not have a MATB1, please return your completed claim form anyway and they will contact you by phone when they are processing your application. 

    I risk missing the SSMG claim deadline as I am self-isolating/shielding and cannot leave the house to post my form. What should I do? 

    The DWP cannot process your application for a Sure Start Maternity Grant without a completed claim form. But they will still accept your application if they receive the form after the deadline. 

    Please make a note on the claim form that you were self-isolating/shielding due to the coronavirus emergency and post it back to the DWP as soon as you can. 

    How can I get a copy of an SSMG claim form if I don’t have access to a printer? 

    Please call the Sure Start Maternity Grant helpline on 0800 169 0140 to request a claim form and they will post one to you. 

    Increased payments 

    Which benefits have been increased? 

    The government has increased the standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit for one year. Both have increased by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating. This applies 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 has increased from £317.82 to £409.89 per month. 

    What’s being done for people who rent? 

    Local Housing Allowance rates have been increased to the 30th percentile of market rents. This applies to all private renters who are new Universal Credit claimants, or have an existing Universal Credit claim that includes a housing element, and to existing Housing Benefit claimants. 

    NHS 111 online isolation note 

    What is an isolation note? 

    This new temporary system will enable people who are advised to self-isolate to obtain an isolation note via NHS 111 online or the NHS website. This can then be used as evidence for absence from work, to avoid patients visiting their GP unnecessarily. The isolation note is not required by DWP. 

    What is an isolation note used for? 

    It is for employees who need evidence to cover a period of absence due to coronavirus. Employees can self-certify for 7 days, but beyond that, if they have been advised to self-isolate or share a household with someone who is showing symptoms and self-isolating, they may be asked by their employer to provide evidence. The isolation note is evidence to be given to an employer. 

    When will the isolation note be available? 

    This service is available now. 

    Who can get an isolation note? 

    The service is for anyone in the UK who needs to provide evidence, for their employer, of being advised to self-isolate after self-certifying for 7 days, because they share a household with someone who is showing symptoms and self-isolating, or because they have symptoms of coronavirus. 

    You do not need to get an isolation note for the first 7 days of absence, instead you can self-certify for this period. Employers have been asked to use discretion when requesting evidence but if your employer does ask for evidence to support your absence after the self-certification period, then you can get an isolation note from NHS 111 Online and give a copy to your employer. There is no need to contact your GP for a fit note. 

    If you have been advised to self-isolate as a result of coronavirus, then you should first speak to your employer to explore options for working from home. If you can work from home during the period you have been advised to isolate for, then you do not need an isolation note. 

    How do I get an isolation note? 

    By visiting NHS 111 Online if you are displaying symptoms or by visiting NHS.UK if you are not displaying symptoms. The service is available to people who have been assessed and are advised that they need to self-isolate. The isolation note is emailed to the user or to someone else’s email address of their choice. 

    Can I complete the process on behalf of someone else? 

    Yes. 

    What about people who do not have access to the internet? 

    Patients are being urged to only call 111 if they cannot use the internet. However, they should in the first instance ask a friend or family member to complete it online for them. If this is not an option, patients can call 111 for a call handler to complete it on their behalf and send the isolation note to an email address supplied by the patient, if they need it. 

    What if I don’t have an email address? 

    At present it is sent via email only. A trusted third party such a friend or family member can receive the isolation note on your behalf. 

    How long do I have to wait to receive an isolation note? 

    The note is produced and emailed shortly after completion of the service. 

    What if employers do not accept this alternative as evidence? 

    The DWP will work closely with employers to communicate this and have already advised the use of discretion. 

    What if I need to stay off work longer? 

    If you need further notes to cover a longer period of absence, a further assessment via NHS 111 online will be required. 

    Can I get more than one copy to show multiple employers? 

    The note is emailed as a secure link to a PDF which can be accessed, printed, downloaded or emailed multiple times. 

    How do I send it to my employer? How do they use/store/record it? 

    You can forward the email from NHS 111 Online to your employer. How they use it will depend on the employer’s HR policies. Your employer can treat this as evidence for absence relating to coronavirus beyond the 7-day self-certification. 

    Do I need to obtain an isolation note if I am claiming benefits from DWP? 

    No. The notification is aimed at employed people. If you have a current claim to benefits or wish to make a claim, Jobcentre Plus will advise you on the arrangements in place during the coronavirus outbreak. You will not need to obtain a fit note from your GP. 

    Can I use the isolation note for other illnesses or conditions? 

    No – this temporary service applies to coronavirus only. 

    Are you collecting any personal data resulting from the issue of these notes? 

    Personal data from the issue of these notes will be collected in line with NHS Digital’s Privacy Policy. The data is securely stored by NHS Digital in their hosting service in the UK. Some anonymous/aggregate data may be collected by NHS Digital and shared with Government Departments to illustrate how the service is performing and how many notes are being issued. Read the NHS Digital privacy policy 

    What about vulnerable groups? 

    At present this service supports people with symptoms of coronavirus, or people in households where someone has symptoms. The DWP will keep this under review as guidance for vulnerable groups emerges. 

    I am self-employed. Will I need an isolation note to claim benefits? 

    No. If you need information about claiming benefits see the self-employment section. 

    Advice for employers 

    Can employers insist on a fit note? 

    It is important that local health services are not overburdened by requests for fit notes from those advised to self-isolate or who are displaying symptoms during the coronavirus outbreak. 

    It is important that individuals who have been advised to self-isolate are encouraged to do so in line with Public Health England guidance 

    The DWP strongly suggest that employers use their discretion around the need for medical evidence for a period of absence where an employee is advised to self-isolate due to suspected coronavirus in accordance with the latest public health advice being issued by the government. 

    Should employers still require evidence to support payments of Statutory Sick Pay or Occupational Sick Pay beyond the 7 day self-certification period, employees may use the isolation note. 

    Can this be used for other illnesses or health conditions? 

    No. The isolation note relates only to coronavirus. 

    Can my staff be asked to work from home during self-isolation when they have obtained a notification by NHS 111? 

    Yes. The notification only confirms that the employee has been advised to self-isolate due to suspected coronavirus. It is not a medical assessment of an employee’s fitness for work. 

    How can you tell if it’s a real isolation note? 

    The isolation note is created with a 16-digit unique reference number generated by NHS Digital. This can be used by employers if they need to check authenticity through a verification service which will be available to employers, in the weeks after the service goes live. This will allow retrospective checking of notes that have already been issued. 

    For more information on the isolation note see the NHS isolation note help and support 

    See also the section on frequently asked questions by employers 

    Self-employment 

    My business is no longer providing me with an income because of coronavirus. What can I do? 

    The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is supporting self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose business has been adversely affected by coronavirus 

    The scheme allows you to claim a taxable grant worth 70% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total. If you’re eligible and your business has been adversely affected on or after 14 July 2020, you must make your claim for the grant on or before 19 October 2020. Read more about eligibility for SEISS 

    If you have not been contacted by HMRC and believe you may be eligible for SEISS, you can check if you can make a claim using the SEISS online service 

    If your business has been affected by the changes introduced to deal with coronavirus, or you need financial help whilst waiting for SEISS, you may be able to apply for Universal Credit. If you currently receive tax credits from HMRC, please be aware that if you apply for Universal Credit your tax credits award will end immediately, even if you are not eligible to receive Universal Credit. Find out more about tax credits and claiming Universal Credit 

    Once you have made a Universal Credit claim you may be eligible for a repayable advance 

    New claimants will not need to attend the jobcentre to demonstrate gainful self-employment, but may need to take part in a telephone interview. 

    I’m self-employed. Can I get Statutory Sick Pay? 

    As a self-employed person you cannot currently claim statutory sick pay. You may be eligible for Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance 

    Will I have to sell my business assets if I need to claim Universal Credit? 

    If you are not winding-up your business, you will not need to sell your business assets to apply for Universal Credit. They will not be taken into account when you make a Universal Credit claim, nor will they be considered when the DWP  work out how much Universal Credit you are to entitled to. 

    Business assets include things like machinery, premises and cash held in your business account. 

    I’m already on Universal Credit whilst I run my own business. What’s being done for me? 

    If you are self-employed and claiming Universal Credit, the Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) has been temporarily relaxed. This change applies to all Universal Credit claimants. You will be informed before the Minimum Income Floor is reinstated for you. 

    Will self-employed people get anything from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme? 

    Self-employed people won’t benefit from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme directly, but they could benefit from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) and the relaxation of the Minimum Income Floor (see above). 

    In addition, the Income Tax Self-Assessment payments due in July 2020 will be deferred until January 2021, benefitting millions of self-employed taxpayers. 

    The self-employed may also benefit from: 

    • following discussions with industry, for those in difficulty due to coronavirus, mortgage lenders will offer mortgage holidays of 3 months 
    • forbearance from lenders, where individuals are having difficulty paying back personal loans or credit