For the latest medical advice, visit NHS.uk/Coronavirus.
Statutory Sick Pay
Changes to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and Benefit Measures were announced to ensure you are not penalised for doing the right thing in self-isolating. These changes have already come into effect and will:
- Extend Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to those who are self-isolating in line with Government health guidance.
- Adjust the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit (UC) rules to ensure you are entitled to money from day 1, and those who are self-employed are supported, including in the gig-economy, to receive welfare payments for periods of self-isolation.
This change helps to provide certainty that (if eligible) you are entitled to receive Statutory Sick Pay if you are following government advice in relation to coronavirus. This includes if you are self-isolating as a precautionary measure without symptoms.
If you are on a zero-hour contract, you may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay. This will depend how many hours you have worked regularly and income received, but you should contact your employer directly to find out more.
For more details on Statutory Sick Pay, click here.
Test and Trace Support Payment
Those on lower incomes who are required by NHS Test and Trace to self isolate and cannot work from home will be supported by a £500 payment.
Employment and Support Allowance
If you are affected by Coronavirus, you will be able to access the benefit system without the need for medical evidence or to attend a work capability assessment. The seven waiting days for Employment and Support Allowance for new claims will not apply. It will be payable from day one.
If you are affected by Coronavirus, work search and work availability requirements within Universal Credit are switched off. They will also provide access to other support within Universal Credit, such as a work allowance and childcare support for if you have a partner who is still able to work. If you are self-employed, you will also not have a Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) applied for a period of time within Universal Credit.
At the 2021 Budget, the Chancellor announced that on top of the planned uprating, the Government is extending the temporary £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit standard allowance until the end of September 2021. This measure will apply to all new and existing UC claimants.
Working Tax Credit
The Government made a one-off payment of £500 to eligible Working Tax Credit claimants across the UK, to provide continued extra support.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – which covers 80 per cent of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month – has been extended until the 30th September 2021.
From July – the Government will contribute 70% of wages up to £2,187.50 with employers contributing 10% of hours not worked.
From August to September, the Government will contribute 60% of wages up to £1,875 with employers contributing 20% of hours not worked.
Customers with pre-payment meters who may not be able to add credit can speak to their supplier about options to keep them supplied. This will benefit over 4 million customers and could include nominating a third party for credit top ups, having a discretionary fund added to their credit, or being sent a pre-loaded top up card so that their supply is not interrupted.
More broadly, any energy customer in financial distress will also be supported by their supplier, which could include debt repayments and bill payments being reassessed, reduced or paused where necessary, while disconnection of credit meters will be completely suspended.
Customers that are unable to top up their pre-payment meter are advised to contact their supplier immediately to discuss how they can be kept on supply. Ofgem recommends consumers leave the meter box unlocked if they need someone else to top up the meter. Smart meter customers should be able to top-up remotely, such as by phone, mobile application or online.
OFGEM have put together a brief guide setting out the help available and where to find advice on managing debt and budgeting which can be found here.
On 17 March 2020 the Financial Conduct Authority called on firms to use the flexibility built into their rules to support consumers, taking into account customers’ individual circumstances.
Many major lenders have already made statements to this effect. It is very important that anyone having difficulty paying back personal loans or credit as a result of COVID-19 talks to their lender.
Where payment holidays as a result of COVID-19 are agreed with a lender, they are expected to record these in such a way that will not impact on people’s credit score.
If you are facing any difficulties paying household bills or repayment commitments, loans and mortgages due to the pandemic, you can get help.
You can find out more about Government measures for support here.