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.
See the guides to claiming ESA on our benefit information page
Newcastle City Council webpage
Coronavirus special 21 August e.g. Access to work improvements, social distancing badge, extra support for working families affected by coronavirus
Coronavirus special 24 July e.g. reintroduction of medical evidence requirement for new claims initally
Coronavirus Touchbase special about re-opening Jobcentres and so on 3 July 2020
Roundup of DWP announcements 23 March 2020
Touchbase covers coronavirus and benefits, employment and so on with links to above government information - March 2020 edition 140
Internal guidance to DWP staff including recent memos (ADM's) on coronavirus and benefits - Universal Credit and so on
Internal guidance to DWP staff including recent memos (DMG's) on coronavirus and benefits - other benefits
DWP guidance to Local Authorities
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
6 August 2020.Guidance for providers of supported living settings.
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
Guidance for current students – 31 July 2020
Guidance for prospective students – 31 July 2020
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
Other Universal Credit guidance:
Urgent actions refugees need to do to claim Universal Credit and other benefits, once they have been granted leave to remain in the UK.
Information for prison leavers, work coaches and probation officers about Universal Credit.
By a team of barristers - Cloisters Chambers
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
Benefits, redundancy, Job Retention Scheme, returning to work, Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, rough sleepers, no recourse to public funds and a lot more
By Age UK
By Housing Systems
By Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)
By Child Poverty Action Group
By Working Families
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.
- 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
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.
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.
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