With the continuing increase in coronavirus cases, make sure you know what benefits you may be entitled to if you get the virus, need to self-isolate and your income is affected, or are caring for someone in the same household who has symptoms and has to self-isolate.
If you’re already claiming benefits
If you are already in claiming benefits, it may be that these can be increased to take into account your reduced income – so let the Housing Benefit department know, and update HMRC if you claim Tax Credits. And then you could also think about claiming the following:
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
The government is bringing in emergency legislation to allow Statutory Sick Pay to be paid from the first day, rather than the fourth day, of sickness. As well as this, the governement's introducing a temporary alternative to a fit note for coronavirus related absences – you will be able to get it by calling the NHS on 111. Statutory Sick Pay is paid at the rate of £94.25 per week.
New Style Employment and Support Allowance
If you’re not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay you may be able to claim New Style Employment and Support Allowance, based on your national insurance contributions. This is paid at the rate of £73.10 per week. The government has suggested that this would be paid to self-employed workers and those on zero hours contracts. This will be available from the first day of sickness or absence rather than the eighth day.
If you can’t get Statutory Sick Pay or New Style Employment and Support Allowance you may be able to claim Universal Credit without going to the job centre. But this is usually not paid until 1 month and 7 days after your claim – although you can ask for a repayable advance. However, if you’re getting other benefits such as Housing Benefit or Tax Credits these will stop, and you may be no better off. Seek advice before claiming if you’re on other benefits.
If you’re already claiming Universal Credit
If you’re already claiming Universal Credit let your work coach as soon as possible, particularly if you can’t attend a jobcentre appointment. If you don’t let them know before you miss an appointment, you could be sanctioned. If your income reduces because you have coronavirus, have to self-isolate, or are caring for someone in your household who is affected, your Universal Credit should change to take this into account. The Minimum Income Floor (which applies to the self-employed) will also be relaxed for those affected by coronavirus.
You can find more information on coronavirus support on the government website.