Benefit advice

Coronavirus and claiming benefits

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This page provides information about coronavirus and claiming benefits.

If you’re in work and not claiming benefits

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.

Statutory Sick Pay will be payable if you are staying at home on Government advice, not just if you are infected by coronavirus. This applies from 13 March 2020.

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.

If you’re already claiming benefits

Changes to jobcentre appointments
People receiving benefits do not have to attend jobcentre appointments for three months, starting from Thursday 19 March 2020.

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 using your online journal or calling the Universal Credit helpline.

Changes to health assessments
In light of the current coronavirus outbreak, the Department for Work and Pensions has taken the precautionary decision to temporarily suspend all face-to-face assessments for health and disability-related benefits.

Changes to how much you’ll get
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 self-employed
If you are self-employed and claiming Universal Credit, and are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus, the Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) will not be applied for a period of time while you are affected.

If you’re making a new claim
Don’t delay making a benefit claim, even if you think you may be affected by coronavirus.

You can apply for Universal Credit online. If you need to make an appointment, call the number you are given when you submit your claim, and explain your situation. Jobcentre Plus staff are ready to support you if you are required to stay at home.
If you need to claim Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) because of coronavirus, you will not be required to produce a Fit Note.

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 are required to stay at home and want to apply for ESA, the usual seven waiting days for new claimants will not apply. ESA will be payable from day one.

If you have been working within the last two to three years and have paid and/or been credited with enough National Insurance contributions, you may be able to claim New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).

New Style JSA can be claimed on its own or at the same time as Universal Credit. Your savings and capital (or your partner’s savings, capital and income) are not taken into account when claiming New Style JSA.

If you are self-employed and are making a new application for Universal Credit, you will not need to attend the jobcentre to demonstrate gainful self-employment.

Useful links

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

If you need to provide evidence to your employer that you need to stay at home due to having symptoms of coronavirus you can obtain an Isolation Note from NHS 111 online.

Claiming the right benefit – direct customers to a benefits calculator.

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