Coronavirus and benefits - guidance and legislation
General guidance by the government and by independent organisations, followed by the main legislation that has brought in some of these measures.
See our other coronavirus and benefits pages:
Coronavirus and benefits - what the changes mean for you
Coronavirus and benefits - news
Get advice - Benefits and money advice in Newcastle - including details about the Jobcentre and other DWP contacts
Pinned: Guidance about claiming benefits and those affected by coronavirus. Gets updated
For example, Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) improvements, changes to health assessments, what benefits you may be entitled to, £20 a week extra Universal Credit (UC) and Working Tax Credit from 6 April, Housing Benefit for private tenants improvement, changed arrangements for contacting the jobcentre, improvement in UC for the self employed, no need for a fit note (GP sick note) to prove sick if claiming UC or ESA and no waiting days for ESA. Jobseekers Allowance and possibly UC available for those losing their job. Also covered in legislation below.
New Style Employment and Support Allowance (NS ESA) - guidance
Includes link to new service to apply for NS ESA online and new eligibility conditions introduced because of coronavirus. See also a link to download the NS ESA claim form.
Newcastle City Council webpage
7 May 2020. New DWP staff guidance
Change to earnings condition so that a furloughed woman is treated as if her average earnings were what she would have been paid (had she not been furloughed)
Roundup of DWP announcements 23 March 2020
The latest Touchbase covers coronavirus and benefits, employment and so on with links to above government information - March 2020 edition 140
Guidance on how the tribunal service (who deal with benefit appeals) will use telephone and video technology during the coronavirus outbreak
7 May 2020.
'If you have a hearing listed, we will contact you and anyone else involved to discuss any changes, you do not need to contact us.
If you have an enquiry: Email email@example.com. We will respond to all emails as soon as possible.
Further Information: Visit www.gov.uk/appeal-benefit-decision/submit-appeal to appeal a benefit decision online.'
Government advice for those who have difficulty with:
- using the phone (includes advice on Relay UK, Textphone, Video Relay Service for BSL users, alternatives to the phone including a link to ‘home visits’)
- using a computer
- reading letters or filling in forms
- attending face to face meetings, and
- managing you own affairs
- And how to complain
Click through to government advice depending on your situation
Including sick pay (Statutory Sick Pay), furloughed workers (sent home due to coronavirus but kept on payroll with 80% of pay), claiming benefits in or out of work, self employed, help with rent. Gets updated
By Disability Rights UK
By Citizens Advice
By the Money Advice Service
By Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG)
By Contact - for families with disabled children
By House of Commons library
By the House of Commons library
By Age UK
By Housing Systems
By Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)
By Child Poverty Action Group
By Working Families
- For self employed claiming Universal Credit - the 'minimum income floor' rule (where a minimum income is assumed) is not applied plus other easements - until 12 November 2020. More details on the minimum income floor
- Carers can retain their Carers Allowance - if they have a temporary break in caring if the carer or cared for person gets coronavirus or is isolated due to it. NB. the government has confirmed that emotional support counts for Carers Allowance. More details from carersuk
- Universal Credit basic amount was increased by £20 a week from 6 April 2020. The basic amount you get depends on your age or if in a couple
- The basic amount of Working Tax Credit (WTC) also goes up by the same amount as Universal Credit above from 6 April 2020.
- Housing Benefit ignores a certain amount of WTC. To take into account the above increase in WTC, from 6 April 2020, the amount ignored was increased from £17.10 to £37.10 a week
- Help with rent is improved for some private tenants. The 'cap' on Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing costs for private tenants (known as Local Housing Allowance) was raised, from 6 April 2020, so some may get more help towards their rent
- Those claiming new style Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) or Universal Credit who are fit and able to work usually have work search requirements which includes being 'able and willing to immediately take up a job'. Those on old style JSA have to be available for work and actively seeking work'. These requirements are suspended, initially for three months.
- JSA claimants or a child of theirs who have or may have coronavirus, can still get JSA
Includes some benefit measures including:
Working Tax Credit basic allowance increased from £1,995 to £3,040 a year from April 2020
In force on 13 March 2020
For those affected by Coronavirus Disease, for example:
Removes the seven 'waiting days' for a claim to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
Suspension of the 'minimum income floor' in Universal Credit for self employed (where a minimum income is normally assumed)
Law amended to allow prisoners on temporary release due to COVID-19 to claim certain benefits and be included in someone else's benefit claim
Explained in guidance A8/2020
Furloughed workers planning to take paid parental or adoption leave will be entitled to pay based on their usual earnings rather than a furloughed pay rate. For example, Statutory maternity pay, adoption, shared parental pay and so on.
From 21 May 2020. Including:
- A SEISS payment is treated as self-employed earnings in the assessment period it is received
- A CJRS payment to an employer for their employees is ignored as self-employed earnings
- Where self-employed claimants receive Coronavirus support via a loan or grant, to aide with business recovery, these payments will be disregarded for a period of 12 months, for the purposes of UC
- The UC claim will not ‘close’ when earnings reduce UC to zero, instead they will be ‘treated as making’ a new claim for the following 5 assessment periods – so if become entitled again due to reduced income, UC can be paid without need for a new claim. A sort of ‘sleeping UC award’
Extra info from the explanatory memorandum that accompanies the regulations:
The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) allows self-employed people to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 a month to cover their earnings. It is available for 3 months, but may be extended
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme which was initially in place for 4 months starting from 1st March 2020, but has now been extended until the end of October 2020
Although the SEISS has been put in place since April 2020, payments from it are only expected to come through in May 2020. As a result, some self-employed people may have claimed Universal Credit (UC) since the beginning of the ‘lockdown’ to cover their living costs.
These Regulations therefore provide for the SEISS to be taken into account as self-employed earnings in UC in the assessment period in which a payment is received. In some cases, this may mean the support available via UC comes to an end but in others where incomes are low, UC will continue to ‘top-up’ the self-employed persons’ income until it is no longer needed.