Financial help if you’re affected by Coronavirus
No-one will lose their NCH tenancy because of coronavirus
We know that this is a worrying time financially for many people. We will always take a supportive approach to help people with their rent and want to offer practical help.
If you are struggling financially, we have a specialist team who can give you advice on what you can claim and what to do. Please contact us:
Call: 0115 915 4920
Text: DOSH and your free message to 80800
Benefit increases due to Coronavirus
From 6 April the government is increasing the standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit for one year. Both will increase by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating. This will apply 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 will increase from £317.82 to £409.89 per month.
If you're claiming Universal Credit
You will continue to receive benefits as normal, but all requirements to attend the jobcentre in person are suspended.
You can still make applications for benefits online if they are eligible.
Jobcentres remain open, and will continue to support people who are not able to use phones and online, including homeless people.
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. You can do this by:
If you are working fewer hours, the amount of Universal Credit you receive will adjust as your earnings change.
When you claim Universal Credit you will need to accept your Claimant Commitment. In most cases your Claimant Commitment will be drawn up with your work coach at your Jobcentre. It will set out what you have agreed to do to prepare for and look for work, or to increase your earnings if you are already working. It will be based on your personal circumstances and will be reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis. Each time it is updated, you will need to accept a new Claimant Commitment to keep receiving Universal Credit.
Your work coach will take into account the 'new normal' of coronavirus restrictions when considering your claimant commitment.
Remember - your Universal Credit payments may be cut if you don’t meet your Claimant Commitment responsibilities.
If you claim Universal Credit as a couple, both of you will need to accept a Claimant Commitment. You will each have your own Claimant Commitment, and yours may be affected if your partner starts work or their circumstances change.
For more information about your claimant commitment, please see here.
Interviews and medical assessments
The government has postponed all face-to-face medical assessments for ESA, Universal Credit or PIP.
Interviews and assessments will be done by telephone.
You should not go to a Jobcentre unless asked to do so.
Find out more about getting Universal Credit if you're sick.
If you’re an employee
If you’re an employee
A new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been set up to help pay people’s wages. Employers can contact HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages of their workforce who remain on payroll but are temporarily not working during the coronavirus outbreak. Any employer in the country- small or large, charitable or non-profit will be eligible for the scheme.
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 your employer intends to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, they will discuss with you becoming classified as a furloughed worker. This would mean that you are kept on your employer’s payroll, rather than being laid off.
Your employer will be asked to contribute to the cost of your furlough from 1 August 2020.
You will remain employed while furloughed. Your employer could choose to fund the differences between this payment and your salary, but does not have to.
From 1 July 2020, a furloughed employee or worker can agree with their employer to be put on 'flexible furlough'. This means they can work some of their usual hours and be put on furlough for the hours they do not work.
Please get in touch with your employer for more information.
If you're self-employed
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) – the Government grant to self-employed individuals whose businesses have been adversely affected by coronavirus – is made up of two grants.
The first grant closed on 13 July 2020, but the second and final grant will open for applications on 17 August 2020.
Here's what you need to know about the second grant:
- Applications open on 17 August. You won't be able to apply before then. As with the first grant HMRC will contact you if you’re eligible.
- It will be worth up to 70% of your trading profits. It's capped at £2,190 a month and is taxable at a total of £6,570. As it's a grant, you don't need to pay it back.
- You don't need to have claimed the first grant to receive the second grant. And if you've claimed the first, you can still claim the second as long as you're eligible.
- You need to have been adversely affected by coronavirus on or after 14 July 2020 to claim it.
- Grants are based on your profits over three tax years. This is based on an average of the tax returns for 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19.
- You must have filed a tax return for 2018/19. This means you must have been self-employed prior to 6 April 2019.
- You must earn more than 50% of your total income from self-employment.This must have been the case for either your 2018/19 tax return or, if not, the average of your 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 tax returns. Income from property, dividends, savings, pensions and taxable benefits all count as non-trading income and to qualify for the SEISS, the total of these combined must NOT exceed 50% of your total income. F
Other help you can get
The government is also providing the following additional help for self-employed people:
- Deferral of Self Assessment income tax payments due in July 2020 and VAT payments due from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020
- Increased amounts of Universal Credit
If you’re a director of your own company and paid through PAYE you may be able to get support using the Job Retention Scheme.
You'll get statutory sick pay (SSP) if you're considered unfit for work and are usually entitled to it - check if you're entitled to SSP.
It's worth checking your contract - your employer might pay you more than SSP when you're sick. You can also check your rights to sick pay if you get coronavirus on the ACAS website. ACAS provides free advice to employees and employers.
If you cannot work because of coronavirus (COVID-19)
If you have to self-isolate you must receive any Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to you from the first day you're absent from work if it's because:
- You have coronavirus
- You have coronavirus symptoms, for example a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste
- someone in your household has coronavirus symptoms
- You’ve been told to 'shield' by the NHS because of an underlying health condition – you will not be eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP) on this basis from 1 August 2020
- You've been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111
- You've been told to self-isolate by a government 'test and trace' service, because they've been in close contact with someone who tested positive
You could get SSP for every day you’re off work.
Some people returning to the UK must self-isolate for 14 days, depending on the country they've travelled from.
You will not be entitled to SSP if you're self-isolating after returning from holiday or business travel and you cannot work from home.
You may be entitled to SSP for another reason, for example if you have coronavirus symptoms.
New Universal Credit claims
If you are unable to work or your income has reduced, you may be entitled to some additional benefits.
- If you are not already getting any benefits, you may be able to claim Universal Credit - Check if you can claim Universal Credit.
- When you make a new claim for Universal Credit you can receive up to a month’s advance up front. This will include an amount towards your housing costs so remember to pay your rent.
- You should claim Universal credit online. If you cannot verify your identity online the Universal Credit team will phone you to help you verify your identity.
- If you can't apply for Universal Credit online you might be able to apply for Universal Credit over the phone from Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm. Someone else can call for you. Telephone: 0800 328 5644 or Textphone: 0800 328 1344. Calls to these numbers are free.
You can only use this option in certain situations. You might be eligible if you:
- don't have regular access to the internet
- aren't confident using a computer or smartphone
- have problems with your sight
- have a long term physical disability or mental health condition which stops you from applying online
- have a physical condition that stops you from using a computer or smartphone
- can’t read or write.
It can take a while to get through to someone. Tell the person you speak to why you can’t apply online. They’ll ask you some questions to check you’re eligible before going through the next steps of the application with you.
If you need help to claim Universal Credit you can contact the Help to Claim Service on 0800 144 8444. Advisers are available 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
If you need a British Sign Language interpreter, call the textphone number: 18001 0800 144 8 444. An adviser can arrange for an interpreter to translate for you over a video call.
- If you already get Housing Benefit and Working Tax Credits contact Nottingham City Council and HMRC to let them know your income has reduced as your benefit income should then increase.
- If you are getting Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), check if you can top up your income with Universal Credit.
Fuel and energy advice
Customers with pre-payment meters will receive financial help if they cannot leave the house to top up after energy suppliers reached a deal with the government.
Households with pre-payment meters have to top up at a Post Office or shop, although some suppliers allow people to top up online. Customers cannot use their gas and electricity if their pre-payment meter is not topped up but the government has said no one will be cut off during the pandemic.
If you have a pre-payment meter and are unable to leave your house you can contact your gas and electricity supplier to discuss other options.
That could mean sending someone else to top up your card at a Post Office or participating retailer. Among other options are having a pre-loaded gas or electricity card sent you in the post, or having funds added to your meter credit directly by your supplier.
Those in financial distress can request to have debt repayments and bill payments reassessed, paused or reduced if needed. No credit meters will be disconnected during the outbreak.
Advice from our Energy team
Although we are currently unable to complete home visits, we will be operating a telephone service for support with energy related or fuel debt enquiries. Please call us - Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5pm on 07947 523831.
Free meals if your children are off school
For those children who must stay at home and would normally receive free school meals, you can access a voucher or gift card for several major supermarkets every two weeks and you will be able to collect your voucher or gift card from your school. More details here: Meal vouchers
Child benefit for newborns
The HMRC have announced that parents of newborn's can claim child benefit without first registering child’s birth.
This new measure has been introduced to make sure that people are able to claim while register offices are closed due to coronavirus outbreak
First time parents will need to fill in Child Benefit Claim form CH2 and send it to the Child Benefit Office, and that they should add a note to the claim if they have been unable to register the birth because of COVID-19.
Parents already in receipt of child benefit can also complete the form, or they can add their newborn’s details over the phone on 0300 200 3100.
Free prescriptions for Universal Credit claimants - at last!
Seven years after the first claims for Universal Credit were made, the back of the prescription form will finally include a tick box so that Universal Credit recipients can claim free prescriptions. If you qualify, please remember to tick it so you don’t get a penalty for claiming your free prescription charges.
There's more information about which Universal Credit claimants qualify for free prescriptions here.