Coronavirus: Government support for individuals
On 17 March, the Chancellor announced an unprecedented package of measures to support businesses and individuals during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, making available an initial £330bn of guarantees.
If you are experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19, the following measures may help you.
Universal Credit and additional support
The standard rate in both Universal Credit (UC) and Tax Credits will be increased by £20 a week for one year from April 6th, meaning claimants will be up to £1,040 better off.
The ‘minimum income floor’ for the self-employed claiming UC is temporarily suspended for everyone affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. This means that every self-employed person can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to SSP for employees.
There will be additional support for renters, through increases in housing benefit and Universal Credit. From April, Local Housing Allowance rates will pay for at least 30% of market rents in each area.
Statutory Sick Pay
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is currently set to £94.25 per week, and is paid if you are too ill to work. This is paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.
If you are self-isolating due to COVID-19, you can now claim SSP from day 1 (rather than day 4). This also includes individuals who have been advised to do a household quarantine. Be sure to check your sick pay entitlement with your employer. You may be entitled to more if your company has a sick pay scheme.
From 20 March onward, those self-isolating due to COVID-19 can obtain an ‘isolation note’ from the NHS 111 website, rather than visiting a doctor. This replaces the usual need to provide a ‘fit note’ after seven days of absence.
If you are not eligible for SSP (including those who are self-employed), and you are advised to self-isolate, it is now easier to make a claim for Universal Credit (UC) or the ‘New Style’ Employment and Support Allowance.
The Government have further guidance on SSP available here.
Financial support – mortgages and rent
If you are experiencing financial difficulties meeting your mortgage payments or rent, you may be entitled to a mortgage or rental holiday for 3 months.
The government has agreed with mortgage lenders to offer repayment holidays of three months to households in financial difficulty due to COVID-19. This also applied to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties as well.
The offer can be made available to customers who are up to date with payments, and not already in arrears. Please contact your lender as soon as possible to discuss your options.
Emergency legislation will be taken forward. This means landlords won’t be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least three months. This will apply to both private and social renters.
Financial support – loans and credit cards
If you find yourself unable to pay back personal loans or credit card bills as a result of COVID-19, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has called on lenders to use flexibility to support consumers.
If a payment holiday is agreed, it should be recorded in a way that doesn’t impact your credit score.
If you think you may need further financial support from your Local Authority, you may be entitled to support from the £500m Hardship Fund.
Most of this funding will be used to provide Council Tax relief. We expect further detail on this funding shortly, but you can contact your Local Authority if you have further questions.
For further information or advice please get in touch on 01903 234094.