Coronavirus and benefits - guidance and legislation

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.

The guidance and legislation covered here was mainly created during the first twelve or so months of the pandemic and reflects the key changes. Since then, other amending legislation has been brought in - mainly to reduce or terminate the measures. Some have been extended. Those changes have been tracked in the Coronavirus and benefits what the changes mean for you web pages. Therefore this page has been retained for reference and historical purposes and will be removed at some stage.

Coronavirus and benefits - what the changes mean for you

Get advice - Benefits and money advice in Newcastle - including details about the Jobcentre and other DWP contacts


Government guidance

Independent guidance


Government guidance

Coronavirus and claiming benefits

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.

See the guides to claiming ESA on our benefit information page

Council Tax and Council Tax Reduction in Newcastle

Newcastle City Council webpage

DWP guidance for professionals (Touchbase):

Advice for decision making staff guide

Internal guidance to DWP staff including recent memos (ADM's) on coronavirus and benefits - Universal Credit and so on

Decision makers guide staff guide

Internal guidance to DWP staff including recent memos (DMG's) on coronavirus and benefits - other benefits

LA Welfare Direct bulletins: 2020

DWP guidance to Local Authorities

Tribunal service for social security appeals

Guidance on how the tribunal service (who deal with benefit appeals) will use telephone and video technology during the coronavirus outbreak

See also Tribunal service daily operations summary and courts and tribunals planning and preparation

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 We will respond to all emails as soon as possible.

Further Information: Visit to appeal a benefit decision online.'

Get help with benefits and pensions if you have accessibility needs

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

Find out what you can do if you’re struggling because of coronavirus

Click through to government advice depending on your situation

Supported living services during coronavirus (COVID-19)

6 August 2020.Guidance for providers of supported living settings.

Coronavirus: Returning to work

6 August 2020. This Commons Library Briefing Paper discusses issues relating to returning to work as the Government re-opens the economy. It provides an overview of relevant health and safety law and a discussion of Government guidance on working safely in the context of Covid-19

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Local authority Emergency Assistance Grant for Food and Essential Supplies - 4 August 202

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for people receiving direct payments – 31 July 2020

Guidance for current students – 31 July 2020

Guidance for prospective students – 31 July 2020

Job Retention Bonus

Coronavirus (COVID-19): what to do if you’re employed and cannot work

Coronavirus (COVID-19): what to do if you’re self-employed and getting less work or no work

Coronavirus (COVID-19): what to do if you were employed and have lost your job

Coronavirus (COVID-19): what to do if you’re already getting benefits

DWP advice for those wanting to claim a Sure Start Maternity Grant

DWP advice for deaf people who use BSL and the Video Relay Service

DWP complaints procedure

See also

Guidance for employees, employers and businesses

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

Check if you can claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

Other Universal Credit guidance:


Universal Credit and your Claimant Commitment

Claiming Universal Credit and other benefits if you are a refugee

Urgent actions refugees need to do to claim Universal Credit and other benefits, once they have been granted leave to remain in the UK.

Universal Credit and prison leavers

Information for prison leavers, work coaches and probation officers about Universal Credit.

Universal Credit: further information for couples

Universal Credit and homeless people

Universal Credit if you have a disability or health condition

Universal Credit: further information for families

Independent guidance

NEW Extensive legal guidance on returning to work including for disabled people

By a team of barristers - Cloisters Chambers 

Guidance on the virus and benefits

By Disability Rights UK

Coronavirus and your money

By the Money Advice Service

Coronavirus guidance

By Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG)

Coronavirus, welfare benefits & money

By Contact - for families with disabled children

House of Commons guides to coronavirus and ...

Benefits, redundancy, Job Retention Scheme, returning to work, Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, rough sleepers, no recourse to public funds and a lot more

Coronavirus guidance

By Age UK

Coronavirus and Benefits

By Housing Systems


By Child Poverty Action Group

FAQs about coronavirus and your employment rights, and what financial support might be available

By Working Families

The Public Law Project has set up a microsite on the UC claimant commitment.

The information has been updated due to the Covid-19 crisis and the Public Law Project team have written a short set of FAQs about applying for Universal Credit and signing claimant commitments during this time.

There is information for claimants and printable leaflets. The aim is to get each claimant commitment tailored to personal circumstances in order to avoid sanctions.


Social Security (Coronavirus) (Further Measures) Regulations 2020 No. 371

  • 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 were suspended, initially for three months. Suspension ended 30 June 2020 - see written answer my minister.
  • JSA claimants or a child of theirs who have or may have coronavirus, can still get JSA

Explained in DWP guidance ADM Memo 04/20 and DMG Memo 06/20 and for Housing Benefit changes, HB Circular A7/2020

Coronavirus Act 2020

Includes some benefit measures including:

Working Tax Credit basic allowance increased from £1,995 to £3,040 a year from April 2020

Also see Coronavirus Act 2020: equality impact assessment

Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit (Coronavirus Disease) Regulations 2020 No.289 

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)

Explained in DMG Memo 04/20.

The Social Security (Coronavirus) (Prisoners) Regulations 2020 No. 409

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 25 April 2020. See also press release.

How payments from Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) and Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) are treated by Universal Credit - SI. No. 522/2020

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.

New legislation changes regarding Tax Credits and coronavirus

In force 23 May 2020

A number of changes have been made to the tax credits rules in response to coronavirus. These include:

  • treating people as in work if stopped or reduced hours temporarily due to coronavirus, (including if the claimant or a member of household is shielding) and for a further period of up to 8 weeks if return to work and intend to resume sufficient hours;
  • clarifying that the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and other government support for self-employed due to coronavirus counts as trading income for self-employed claimants;
  • payments instead of free school meals are disregarded as income;
  • allowing key workers more time to report changes of circumstances.

See AskCPAG for more detailed information on these changes and how tax credits may be affected by coronavirus.

New legislation. Deemed to be sick for SSP if been in contact with a person with coronavirus…

In force 28 May 2020. A person can be treated as sick for SSP if been in contact with a person with coronavirus and who is self-isolating for 14 days from the latest date on which that contact occurred, or a date specified in the latest notification.

SSP extended for people self-isolating

In force from 5 August 2020. NHS guidance tells people to self-isolate for 10 days so SSP is extended from seven to 10 days.

The reg SI.No.829/2020

SSP extended for those self-isolating prior to going into hospital for surgery

 SI.No.892/2020 – in force from 26 Aug 2020

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