Financial support and guidance for individuals
In this section
- Statutory Sick Pay and Universal Credit
- Other changes to welfare benefits
- Help with rent and council tax
- Council Tax Discretionary Hardship Fund
- Support on mortgage, loans and credit cards
If you are too ill to work, you can get £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), which is paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.
If you are self-isolating because of the coronavirus, you can now claim SSP. This is applicable from Friday 13 March 2020 and includes individuals who are caring for people self-isolating in the same household and therefore have been advised to do a household quarantine.
In addition, there has been a further relaxation of the Minimum Income Floor for all self-employed claimants affected by the economic impact of the coronavirus, ensuring their Universal Credit (UC) award will increase to reflect their lower earnings.
To check your sick pay entitlement, you should talk to your employer, and visit www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay for more information.
- When does SSP apply?
The government is legislating for SSP to be paid from day 1, rather than day 4, of your absence from work if you are absent from work due to sickness or need to self isolate because of the coronavirus. Once the legislation has been passed, this will apply retrospectively from 13 March. You should talk to your employer if you are eligible for SSP and need to claim.
- Do I need a sick note?
From Friday 20 March onwards, those who have the coronavirus or are advised to self-isolate will be able to obtain an "isolation note" by visiting NHS 111 online and completing an online form, rather than visiting a doctor. For coronavirus cases this replaces the usual need to provide a 'fit note' after 7 days of sickness absence. Isolation notes will also be accepted by Jobcentre Plus as evidence of your inability to attend.
Extension of Statutory Sick Pay to those who are self-isolating and those in the same household caring for self-isolaters - payable from day 1 not day 4.
Contributory Employment and Support Allowance will now be available from day 1 not day 8 for eligible people unable to work because they are directly affected by the coronavirus or self-isolating.
WHO TO CONTACT: your employer or Jobcentre Plus
- What if I am self-employed or not eligible for SSP?
If you are not eligible for SSP - for example if you are self-employed or earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week - and you have the coronavirus or are advised to self-isolate, you can now more easily make a claim for UC or new style Employment and Support Allowance.
- What if I am self-employed and receiving Universal Credit?
If you are self-employed and receiving Universal Credit and you have the coronavirus or are advised to self-isolate, the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed. This change took effect on 13 March 2020 and will last for the duration of the outbreak, to ensure that self-employed UC claimants will receive support.
WHO TO CONTACT: If you need to claim Universal Credit but have the coronavirus or are self-isolating, you will now be able to claim and to access advance payments upfront without needing to attend a Jobcentre Plus. Please visit the DWP website for more information.
If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have the coronavirus or are advised to self-isolate.
From Monday 6 April 2020, there will be an increase to the Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element of £86.67 per month (equal to £20 a week) for one year. This measure will apply to all new and existing Universal Credit claimants and is in addition to the planned annual uprating in benefits in line with CPI of 1.7%. Universal Credit is administered by the DWP and Working Tax Credit by HMRC.
Assistance with council tax
The Council Tax Reduction (CTR) scheme to help those in difficulties reduce their council tax payments and the government has made available extra support to those already in receipt of this reduction. Existing recipients could receive an additional sum of up to £150 towards reducing their council tax payments.
There is no need to apply for this extra help if you already receive council tax reduction, the £150 reduction will be applied automatically. We will issue revised bills later in May beginning of June detailing any payment requirements from July onwards.
For residents not currently in receipt of council tax reduction, help may be available through the scheme with the additional government support also available to new applicants. Please find details below of how to apply.
If you are not entitled to help through the scheme, we will look sympathetically on residents struggling with payments, treating each resident individually with regard to their circumstances. The first option considered will be extending the standard 10 month instalment plan to 12 months or delaying the start of payments until other benefits or government support comes into payment. In some cases the help may involve reviewing income and expenditure details to develop a suitable payment plan which will be reviewed regularly.
In addition to council tax, Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) are payments that can be awarded on top of housing benefit and Universal Credit, and provide support with rent deposits and/or rent in advance and shortfalls in rent and/or rent arrears.
Universal Credit has replaced a variety of benefits previously offered and is a payment to help with your living costs. You may be able to get it if you are on a low income or out of work. The application for Universal Credit is done through the government website and can be accessed through the DWP website.
Housing benefits can help you pay your rent if you are unemployed, on a low income or claiming benefits. More information can be found on the government's housing benefit webpages.
Food bank vouchers will continue to be issued by Citizens Advice for those most in need, including those referred through care professionals.
Assistance with rents
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates that are used to decide Universal Credit and housing benefit for private renters increase from 1 April 2020. In most of the country, the rates will be set at the 30th percentile of market rents. LHA rates are set by geographical areas known as Broad Market Rental Areas (BMRA). Most of Hillingdon is covered by the Outer West London BMRA.
You can view the LHA rates on our local housing allowance page.
The local housing allowance rate is set according to the number of bedrooms your household needs.
This increase is in addition to any support provided by local authorities through Discretionary Housing Payments.
Please note that you will not need to contact the council as we will update the relevant resident's benefit entitlement automatically once more detailed government guidance is received.
- If you wish to claim assistance with your rent or general living expenses, please contact the DWP for more information.
- If you are of working age, help with rent is part of Universal Credit. You claim Universal Credit from the Department for Work and Pensions rather than from the council. Rules have been temporarily relaxed for anyone making a new claim and advance payments are available whilst a claim is being decided.
More information on universal credit can be found on the DWP website.
- If you are in supported accommodation, temporary accommodation or are a pensioner and you require help with rent via Housing Benefit (general living expenses are still dealt with by the DWP), for benefits queries - visit our benefits pages or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The government announced in the Budget on 11 March that it would provide local authorities in England with £500m of new grant funding to support economically vulnerable people and households in their local area.
If you are experiencing financial difficulties in meeting your mortgage repayments because of the coronavirus, you may be entitled to a mortgage or rental holiday for 3 months. This includes landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties because of the coronavirus.
If you are a tenant experiencing financial difficulties because of the coronavirus, the government will ensure you do not face the threat of eviction for at least 3 months:
- The government has agreed with mortgage lenders that they will offer repayment holidays of 3 months to households in financial difficulty due to the coronavirus.
- This will also apply to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties because of the coronavirus.
- The offer of a payment holiday can be made available to customers who are up to date with payments and not already in arrears.
WHO TO CONTACT: Customers who are concerned about their current financial situation should contact their lender at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss if this is a suitable option for them.
- Emergency legislation will be taken forward so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a 3-month period. This applies to private and social renters.
- At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants' individual circumstances.
WHO TO CONTACT: If your landlord is not abiding by the new rules, please contact our Housing team on 01895 556666
If you are experiencing difficulties paying back personal loans or credit card bills as a result of the coronavirus, you should read the following information:
- The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) called on lenders to use flexibility built into their rules to support consumers, taking into account their individual circumstances. Many major lenders have already made statements to this effect.
- If you agree a payment holiday with your lender, they should record these in such a way that will not impact on your credit score.
WHO TO CONTACT: If you are experiencing difficulties paying back loans or credit card bills because of COVID19, you should talk to your lender.
Discount scheme for over-65s
We would like to remind older residents that it is very important that you do not come into the Civic Centre in Uxbridge to access services in person.
We offer a discount scheme on council tax for households where the taxpayer or their partner is aged 65 or over.
For more information
In order to ensure the continuity of services provided, by making sure that our staff remain healthy, please go online in the first instance:
- for council tax queries - visit our council tax pages or email email@example.com.
- for benefits queries - visit our benefits pages or email firstname.lastname@example.org