Corona-Finance: Benefits

Corona-Finance: Benefits

I’ve been told to claim Universal Credit. Where do I even start?

Start by checking to see if you are eligible here:

If so, complete the online application here:

The system is currently dealing with a heavy backlog, so get the claim in as soon as possible.

One quick tip: The DWP have said the UC application website is least busy after 9pm (with the absolute quietest time at 4am). If possible, complete your claim after 9pm for the smoothest process.

The digital skills people at LearnMyWay have lots of information about UC and how to manage a claim in the form of a short course here:

And, of course, Quids in! has a guide to the whole system available in its Store here

How do I claim Employment and Support Allowance?

First, check if you are eligible. You can find that info here:

If you are eligible, you can call jobcentre plus to make a claim: Telephone: 0800 169 0350.

It may be that you can claim for Universal Credit instead, in which case, check you’re eligible here:
And apply online here:

I’m self-employed or on a zero hours contract. Can I get statutory sick pay? If not, what can I do if I need to self-isolate?

To get SSP you need to be an employee (not self-employed) and earn an average of £118 per week. For those of us that can’t claim SSP, the government announced they are making it easier to claim Universal Credit and ESA (Employment and Support Allowance). Some of the measures that have been put in place to make claiming easier include:

Not needing to provide a ‘fit note’ to make a new claim for UC or ESA;
A month’s UC paid upfront as an advance without needing to attend the jobcentre;
The seven day wait for new ESA claimants has been reduced, and will now be payable from day one.

More info:

Also, the government have now announced that self-employed workers may be able to receive a one-off grant in June. The grant (The Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme) is available to self-employed workers who have an average trading profit of less than £50,000 over the past three tax years. Or, if we have only been self-employed for one year (2018/19 tax year) our earnings must be less than £50,000.

The grant is only available to people whose self-employed earnings make up more than half of their annual income. The government will be in touch directly with those of us who are eligible for the grant. The grant will cover a three-month period (March – May) and will cover 80% of lost earnings up to £2,500 per month (so £7,500 in all).

More info on The Coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme is available on the government’s website:

As a furloughed worker, I won’t get my pay until government pay it to my employer, because they’re a family business and can’t afford it as not trading at the moment. If I claim new style Jobseeker’s Allowance, will it prevent me from getting my 80% pay through the furloughed worker scheme. Or will it have no impact? I know I can’t work and have any work earnings, but can I claim jobseekers earnings, in which case I’ll get full benefits until my furloughed pay and then have that lump sum too?

You can take on temp work if you get permission from your employer in advance. If you need money now you can apply for UC and they will look at your individual case.

Apply for Universal Credit online here:

Have the benefit caps been removed?

No. Although there have been calls by charities and campaigners for a suspension of the benefit cap to help ease financial hardship during the current crisis, this has not been a measure announced by the Government.

To find out more about the benefit cap click here

I don’t have much in savings but does my house (or my car) count as an asset that will affect whether I am eligible to claim?

Assets are not taken into account when claiming Universal Credit, but savings of £6,000 and up are. Owning your own home and car will not stop you claiming UC. In fact, there may be some extra benefits you can apply for as a part of the Universal Credit claim.

This info is from the government in relation to UC:

Owner-occupiers who are leaseholders can get help with service charges paid as a housing element within Universal Credit. Although you normally have to serve a waiting period of approximately nine months from the date of your Universal Credit claim before you can receive this help.

Help with mortgage interest payments is available in the form of a loan on which you will be charged interest. This is separate from your claim for Universal Credit. Please read our Support for Mortgage Interest Loan guide for more detailed information about this loan

Read more here:

I’ve been offered an emergency grant of £500 but I’m worried, will it affect my benefits claim?

According to our friends at Turn2us, the grant should be treated as a ‘gift’ unless it increases our savings or investments to over the £6,000 limit. It’s more complicated if we have between £6,000 and £18,000 stashed away.

There is a factsheet about grants on the Turn2us website here:

If a grant is not treated as a grant, appeal and make reference to the Turn2us information.

Has benefit debt recovery been suspended?

The Government has announced that debt recovery is due to be suspended as soon as possible. Historical Tax Credit debts, Benefit Overpayments and Social Fund repayments are intended to be included in the suspension but do not currently include Universal Credit Advance repayments.

For more details click here:

I’ve lost my income due to coronavirus. I can’t pay my rent. What help is available?

Check if you can get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

If not, you may be entitled to benefits, so check and apply as soon as you can. Check here to see what benefits you can apply for.

You can check if you are eligible for Universal Credit here and you can apply for Universal Credit here:

There is also information on applying for New Style ESA here

The government has put a hold on all new evictions for 3 months, and it is always worth discussing your situation with your landlord. For more information on your rights as an employee, check here

And for housing advice, check the Shelter website

I am claiming Universal Credit. I have followed government advice to self-isolate or been infected with Coronavirus. Will this affect my claim?

If we are claiming Universal Credit (UC) and have (or may have) contracted coronavirus and are self-isolating, we’re not expected to search for work. Nor are we expected to be available for work, the way UC claimants usually are. We must contact our Work Coach as soon as possible to let them know, either through the online journal or the UC helpline.

Advice is changing all the time and the period of self-isolation this covers could vary. Same applies if we usually search for work at a public place, like a library, which are all currently shut down.

More info on the Gov website here:

Updated 06/04/2020

Will I be sanctioned if I’m claiming Universal Credit and can’t attend a jobcentre appointment because of Coronavirus?

No. For three months (minimum, this may be extended) no-one is expected to attend appointments in person at the jobcentre. This goes for all of us who currently claim benefits, and for all new claimants too. But we must contact our Work Coach as soon as possible to let them know if we’re unable to work due to coronavirus, either through the online journal or the Universal Credit helpline.

Updated 06/04/2020

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