Chwilio'r wefan
English
£ pound sign

Coronavirus - benefits update

Benefits update in relation to Coronavirus 3 April 2020.

 

Benefits for people in work

Benefits for people who are looking for work

Benefits for people who are sick

Disability benefits

Child benefit

Coronavirus - students and coronavirus

 

 

Benefits for people in work

For the first 7 days of sickness employees can self-certify.  After this period of time you usually have to provide a fit note from your GP.  If you are displaying symptoms of Coronavirus and those who or have been told to self-isolate because of this disease a self-isolation note can be obtained: https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/

Employers are asked to use discretion on the evidence they require. Those who choose to self-isolate in case they come in to contact with the virus would not be considered sick.  It would be good practice for employers to facilitate homeworking for these people.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-covid-19

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-guidance-for-employees#furloughed-workers

If you're off sick for any other reason, you can get a fit note from your GP or hospital doctor. If your employer agrees, a similar document can be provided by a physiotherapist, podiatrist or occupational therapist instead. This is called an Allied Health Professional (AHP) Health and Work Report.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is £94.25 until it rises to £95.85 from 6 April 2020

https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/

You must be an employee to qualify for Statutory Sick Pay, you do not have to have a written contract of employment.  SSP is paid for the first 28 weeks of sickness or until your contract of employment ends; claimants will then have to claim a sickness benefit.  Two or more periods of sickness that are separated by eight weeks or less are linked and treated as one single period.  Your employer cannot dismiss you from employment to avoid paying you SSP but dismissal on grounds of sickness is not necessarily illegal and employees needs to get advice from their union regarding possible unfair dismissal.

SSP rules have been extended, to pay from the 1st day of sickness and not the fourth and to cover:

  • individuals who are unable to work because they have been advised to self isolate;
  • people caring for those within the same household who display COVID-19 symptoms and have been told to self isolate.

People who are/were employed and receiving Tax Credits

Are you affected by the coronavirus?

If you do not have enough money to live on you may be advised to claim Universal Credit.  A claim for Universal Credit will stop any award of tax credits or housing benefit you receive and you may not even be entitled to this benefit and you will not be able to reclaim tax credits or housing benefit.  You should get advice before you make a claim. Especially if you are a student and were receiving tax credits or have savings of £16,000 or more.

If you meet the qualifying criteria for working tax credit (i.e. depending on your circumstances working either 16/24/30 hours); you are treated as still being in work for the first 28 weeks of sickness when:

  • You are being paid Statutory Sick pay
  • Being paid new-style contributory Employment and Support Allowance
  • You are incapable of work due to pregnancy
  • Receiving national insurance credits because you are incapable of work or have limited capability for work.

If your work has ended completely or your hours of work have reduced to less than 16/24/30, you can still qualify for tax credits during the 4 week run on.

If you have been laid off or put on short-time working the four week run-on starts after an initial period of up to four weeks, or after you have been notified that you will not be able to return to work, or your work hours have permanently reduced. 

If you are a furloughed worker or you are self employed and still trading (ie you haven't completely closed down your business), HMRC are stating that you do not need to notify them of a reduction in your hours. You will continue to be treated as working for the following 8 weeks when the situation will be reviewed. https://www.litrg.org.uk/tax-guides/coronavirus-guidance/coronavirus-employees-work-changes#toc-if-my-work-changes-how-does-that-affect-my-tax-credits-. However, if your employment ends and you no longer have a contract of employment, or you are self employed and cease self employment and no longer intend to continue trading you will no longer be entitled to Working Tax Credits after the 4 week run on.

If your income has changed/reduced and you are already receiving Housing Benefit, you need to notify them of a change of your income.

A change of your earnings is not a change of circumstances that you have to report for tax credits; however by reporting this change you are reducing the risk of being over or underpaid when they finalise your award at the end of the financial year. If you have had a change to your earnings and want your tax credits recalculated you should ring Tax Credits on 0345 300 3909, however the first £2,500 of any increase or decrease are disregarded.

Childcare costs within Working Tax Credit

To qualify for help with childcare costs you must be entitled to Working Tax Credit and your child must be in approved childcare.  You can continue to receive the childcare element within Working Tax Credit if you stop paying for childcare costs for less than 4 week;  After 4 weeks any change of £10 in charges needs to be reported.  If you are still paying for childcare, but your child is no longer attending due to the necessity to stay at home, HMRC have said that these costs will be covered.  We are awaiting further guidance.

People who are/were employed and receiving Housing Benefit / Council Tax Reduction

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction are means tested benefits. If you have any change in your income (it decreases or increases) it is important that you tell us as soon as possible and we will reassess your entitlement to this benefit and to prevent any underpayment or overpayment.
Please email us at benefits@swansea.gov.uk  

People who are/were employed and claiming Universal Credit

If you are working and claiming Universal Credit and have been infected with Covid 19 or you are required to self-isolate you will be treated as having limited capability for work.  You will not be required to submit fit notes to the Department for Work and Pensions nor will you be called for a work capability assessment.  As you will be treated as having limited capability for work, your work related requirements will be work focused interviews and work preparation. 

You should write all changes on your journal and keep the Department for Work and Pensions informed of your situation.

People who are/were employed and not claiming ANY benefits above

If you are claiming benefit for the first time because you have been infected with Covid-19 or you are required to self-isolate you will be treated as having limited capability for work.  This means that you will not have to provide fit notes nor have to attend a work capability assessment. 

There are two benefits that you may be entitled to claim:

New-style Employment and Support Allowance.

To qualify for this benefit you must have met the national insurance contribution conditions and not be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay.  This benefit can be paid after SSP even if you still have a contract of employment. This is a contributory benefit, and entitlement depends on your circumstances as the claimant. There are no capital or income rules except any occupational pension over £85.00 per week that is paid to you as the claimant can affect the amount you receive.  Claimants may also qualify for Universal Credit to top up this benefit.

Universal Credit

Those needing to claim a means tested benefit (entitlement will depend on your capital, income of you and your partner) for the first time will now have to claim Universal Credit unless they meet the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) gateway conditions

Universal Credit replaced Working Tax Credit; Child Tax Credit; Housing Benefit; Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance; Income Support; Income Related Jobseekers Allowance. 

To qualify you must have less than £16,000 in capital and meet the means test.  The means test will differ depending on your personal circumstances and what other income or earnings you have coming in and the amount of savings you have between £6,000 to £16,000.  Claimants may qualify for this benefit if they are in work; not working; sick or have caring responsibilities.

Universal Credit can be the only income you have coming in or top up other income (e.g. statutory sick pay, new-style ESA) to the level that the Government says that you need to live on.

Statutory Sick Pay and other income is taken into account when calculating any entitlement to Universal Credit.  For example, if you are single aged 25+ and have no dependent children and do not pay rent, at the time of writing it is our understanding that a work allowance will be applied within the calculation of Universal Credit, in this case, you could qualify for a payment of Universal Credit of up to £317.82 per month.  You may qualify for more than this depending on your circumstances e.g. if you pay rent you are likely to get an additional amount to help with your rent payments.

A claim for Universal Credit will end entitlement to any of the other means tested benefits (Working Tax Credit; Child Tax Credit; Income Related Jobseekers Allowance; Income Related Employment and Support Allowance; Income Support).  If you are receiving one of these benefits you are advised to have a better off calculation to check if you are better off staying on your current benefits with adjustments or claim Universal Credit. It is also important to know that under Universal Credit if you have a partner, both of you will have to have a signed claimant commitment which will outline what work related requirements you have to undertake in order to receive this benefit.

All claimants must sign a claimant commitment and if you are claiming because Covid -19 or the requirement to self-isolate your work related requirements for your claimant commitment will be work focused interview and work preparation.  The Department for Work and Pensions will tell you what to do.

Council Tax Reduction

Council Tax Reduction provides assistance to those who have a liability to pay council tax.  It is means tested so it will depend on the income and capital of you and your partner; but it can be claimed whether you are in or out of work.  This reduction is under claimed, so it is important that you check your entitlement to Council Tax Reduction.

If you are self employed

The Government have brought in a self-employment income support scheme that will cover the three months to May in the first instance and be available from the 1st June 2020.  The scheme will provide self-employed workers with a taxable HMRC grant of 80% of their average monthly profit over the last 3 years up to a maximum of £2,500 a month and will be paid in a single lump-sum payment. 

You can continue to do business whilst claiming this grant.

This scheme will be available to those with a trading profit of up to £50,000 in 2018/19 (or an average of less than £50,000 between 2016/17 and 2018/90 where the majority of their income came from self-employment and where they were already in self-employment with a tax return for 2019; and continue to be self employed and do not cease trading.

If you missed the deadline to return to file your tax return in January, you now have four weeks to do so.

Self-employed and claiming Universal Credit

If you are self-employed and your earnings have stopped / reduced and you may be entitled to claim Universal Credit - see below. BUT if you claim Universal Credit and were in receipt of tax credits and/or housing benefit, any award of tax credits will end and you will not be able to reclaim.  It is advised to check whether you would be better off remaining on tax credits (see above) or claiming Universal Credit. It is also important to know that under Universal Credit if you have a partner, both of you will have to have a signed claimant commitment which will outline what work related requirements you have to undertake in order to receive this benefit.

The minimum income floor that applied to those who had been self-employed for 12 months or more has been suspended.  This means that the actual amount of profit you receive from your self-employed earnings will now be used in the calculation of entitlement.

Support available to those who have been laid off, or hours or work have been reduced

https://www.gov.uk/lay-offs-short-timeworking/guarantee-pay

Working Tax Credit and reduction in hours of work

See information above on 'benefits for those in employment/self employment and receiving tax credits'.

'New-style' Jobseekers Allowance/Universal Credit

If your hours of work have reduced or you have been made redundant you may be able to qualify for 'new style jobseekers allowance' and/or Universal Credit.  See section below on 'benefits for people who are looking for work'.

Childcare costs

If you become liable to pay childcare costs for the first time you may be able to receive some financial support via Tax Credits (if you are already receiving Child Tax or Working Tax Credit); Housing Benefit or Universal Credit); or Universal Credit; and if you are receiving Housing Benefit, you should notify the local authority of these changes.

If you are liable to pay childcare costs to your childcare provider and your child is no longer able to attend due to the necessity to stay at home, HMRC have confirmed that for tax credits these will still be paid.

Students and coronavirus

Students' entitlement to benefits needs to be divided into what level of education and which students are entitled to benefits. This has not been changed by the current situation and coronavirus.

Coronavirus - benefits for people who are looking for work

For those looking for work there are two benefits that you may be claiming; Jobseekers Allowance or Universal Credit. To qualify for either of these benefits you must have a signed jobseekers agreement / claimant commitment outlining your work related requirements and what is expected of you.

Benefits for people who are sick

If you are sick there are two benefits that you may be entitled to claim.

Disability benefits

Benefits for people with a long term illness and/or disabilities.

Child benefit

Registering a birth of a child has currently been deferred.

Wedi'i bweru gan GOSS iCM