The following support measures for individuals affected by COVID-19 were announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 12 March 2020 and were further extended in his Statement to the House on 17 March 2020:
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- If you are eligible for SSP, you are entitled to claim SSP from 13/03/20 if you are unable to work due to coronavirus or as a result of self-isolating. SSP will be paid from the first day of your illness.
- If you work in the gig economy or are on a zero hours contract, you may still be entitled to SSP. You can check your eligibility for SSP here.
- If you are self-employed then you should apply for Universal Credit. The requirements of the Minimum Income Floor have been relaxed to ensure that self-employed claimants are able to access support.
- If you are not eligible for SSP, you can:
- apply for Universal Credit You will not be required to provide a Fit Note and, if you are affected by COVID-19, you can receive up to a month’s advance without attending the jobcentre; and/or
- apply for new style Employment and Support Allowance. You will not be required to provide a Fit Note and the usual 7 day waiting days for new claimants will not apply to those affected by COVID-19. Instead, ESA will be paid from day one.
- If you have worked during the last 2 – 3 years and paid and/or been credited with sufficient NI contributions, you may be able to claim New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance. 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 already claiming benefits
- All face-to-face assessments have been temporarily suspended – if you already have an assessment date, you do not need to attend. You will be contacted by your assessment provider, who will explain the next steps to you. If you are awaiting a date for an assessment appointment, you will be contacted by telephone or letter to let you know what is happening next.
- If you have a jobcentre appointment but are unable to attend due to COVID-19 or self-isolating you will not be sanctioned if you notify DWP in good time. Your mandatory work search and work availability requirements will be removed during your period of sickness.
- If you are in receipt of Universal Credit but are unable to work due to COVID-19 or self-isolation, please notify your work coach as soon as possible via your online journal or by calling the Universal Credit helpline.
Mortgage Payment Holiday
- Mortgage lenders will offer support for those in difficulty as a result of COVID-19, including the option of at least a 3 month mortgage payment holiday.
- For further information, including eligibility and implications of a payment holiday, please see UK Finance’s website.
- To be used by Local Authorities to support economically vulnerable people and households e.g. provision of additional Council Tax Relief.
- Further information on the fund and its distribution is expected imminently.
The Chancellor has also confirmed that there is likely to be further measures announced in the coming days, particularly in relation to support for those who are self-employed or living in rented accommodation.
You can find further information on coronavirus and claiming benefits on the Department for Work and Pensions’ Universal Credit website.
You can keep up to date with the Government’s latest COVID-19 guidance here.