Coronavirus and your income
Help for employees
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - extended
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was introduced to prevent the need for your employer to make you redundant. If you’re enrolled on the scheme you would be classed as a furloughed worker, which means you are kept on your employer's payroll, rather than being laid off.
The CJRS will now run until the end of September 2021.
Until the scheme is reviewed in January 2021, HMRC will pay 80% of your wage to your employer up to a cap of £2,500. Your employer will need to cover National Insurance and minimum pension contributions.
Your employer can also bring you back to work on part time basis. This will enable your employer to bring you back to work for any amount of time and any shift pattern, whilst still using the CJRS to claim for the usual hours that you haven’t worked.
To be eligible for the extended CJRS, you will need to have been on your employer payroll by 30th October 2020.
- Your employer will need to agree any hours that they expect you to work with you.
- Your employer should keep a new written agreement that confirms the new furlough arrangement.
- A flexible furlough agreement can last for any amount of time and as many agreements can be entered into as necessary.
- There will be no minimum period for which you have to be furloughed.
In work and need to self-isolate?
Test and Trace Support Payment scheme
If you are on a low income and are asked to self-isolate, you may receive a payment of £500. Payment can be backdated:
- from 28 September 2020, if you live in England; and
- from 23 October 2020, if you live in Wales.
- you have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace and have a unique ID number (or you have been notified of exposure by the NHS contact tracing app if you live in Wales);
- you are employed and your employer can confirm you are unable to work from home, or you are self-employed and you can show that you are unable to run your business without social contact; and
- you are claiming at least one of the following benefits: Universal Credit, Working tax credit, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Pension Credit or Housing Benefit.
In Wales, from 14 December 2020, you can also claim the payment if you need to take time off work to look after a child who has been formally told to self-isolate. More information can be found on the gov.wales website.
If you don’t receive one of the qualifying benefits, local authorities may still be able to make a payment to you if you are on a low income and could suffer financial hardship from not being able to work
Contact your local authority to make a claim. The payment won’t affect any other benefits and you can make further claims if you meet the criteria.
Statutory Sick Pay
The Government has announced changes to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for people affected by coronavirus who have to self-isolate. SSP will now be paid from the first day of sickness rather than the usual fourth day of sickness. You can claim SSP if:
- you've been told by the NHS that you have come into contact with someone who has coronavirus or shows coronavirus symptoms;
- you live with someone within the same household who has coronavirus or shows coronavirus symptoms; or
- someone in your ‘support bubble’ has coronavirus or shows coronavirus symptoms.
More information can be found on the GOV.UK website.
SSP is £95.85 per week and can be paid for up to 28 weeks. To qualify, a worker must earn at least £118 per week.
If you are not eligible to receive SSP, you can claim Universal Credit and/or new style Employment and Support Allowance.
- New style Employment and Support Allowance can now be claimed from day one of illness.
- If you are claiming Universal Credit, you can do so without having to attend a jobcentre.
Visit Turn2usfor more information about benefits and how to claim them.
If you are unable to claim Statutory Sick Pay but coronavirus means you are too sick to work, you may be able to claim new style Employment and Support Allowance, as long as you have paid enough National Insurance contributions in the last two to three years.
- New style Employment and Support Allowance will now get paid from day one of your claim rather than the usual day eight.
- You can now claim new style Employment and Support Allowance online.
- Income and savings that you or your partner have will not affect your claim.
If you are able to work but have lost your job or work less than 16 hours per week, you may be able to claim new style Job Seekers Allowance as long as you have paid enough National Insurance contribution in the last two to three years.
- You can get new style Jobseekers Allowance for up to six months and it will be paid every two weeks.
- Income and savings that you or your partner/spouse have will not affect your claim.
If you aren’t able to get new style Employment and Support Allowance/new style Job Seekers allowance, or you can but need extra financial help, you will need to make a separate application for Universal Credit.
Important: Universal Credit can affect other benefits
Making a claim for Universal Credit may mean that you lose other benefits you currently get, such as tax credits.
Once you make a Universal Credit claim, your tax credit claim will stop and you cannot go back to tax credits. Before you apply for Universal Credit, try to get advice from a benefits adviser to check if you will be better off claiming Universal Credit. You can look for a local benefits adviser on the Turn2us website.
- Universal Credit is based on your household situation so your or your partner’s income and savings may affect how much you will get.
- If you are making a new claim for Universal Credit you do not need to call anyone. Claims can be made online. If anything needs checking the DWP will call you back.
- There is a five week wait to receive your first Universal Credit payment. You can receive a month’s advance which you then pay back.
You can use Citizens Advice Help to Claim service if you need additional support when making a Universal Credit application. Visit Turn2us for more information about benefits and how to claim them. They have a benefits calculator to help you find out what you may be able to claim.
Already claiming benefits?
If you are claiming Universal Credit or Job Seekers Allowance you may need to meet certain requirements to continue to receive the benefit. This could be job searching, periods of time at work or attending regular meetings or assessments. Due to coronavirus these requirements were temporarily suspended, however they have now restarted. Call the Jobcentre Plus if you're worried about going to an appointment in person due to coronavirus.
If coronavirus means you are unable to carry out a task, you should phone the office paying the benefit to explain why. If you are claiming Universal Credit, inform your work coach and explain what has happened in your online journal.
The Government has confirmed that if you are claiming sickness and disability benefits you will no longer need to attend face-to-face assessments until further notice. This will apply if you receive Personal Independence Payments (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Industrial Injuries Disability Benefit and possibly Universal Credit.
You will keep getting ESA until you have a medical assessment. The DWP may try to assess you by looking at medical records and speaking to you on the phone.
You can find more details on GOV.UK.
The Government has also temporarily changed the way they work out Universal Credit for self-employed people on low incomes. You can contact the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644 for more information.
Post Office Card Accounts - cash delivery of some benefit payments
You may be able to have your Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) benefit payments delivered in cash to your home by Royal Mail Special Delivery if:
- you have a Post Office Card Account;
- live in England; and
- cannot leave your home because of shielding reasons.
The National Shielding Service and DWP will decide whether this is suitable. If you haven’t already been contacted but feel that this service would help you, contact the DWP and ask whether you can be included in this scheme.
From 6 April 2020 the standard allowance in Universal Credit was increased by £20 per week. This increase will continue until the end of September 2021 and apply to new and existing claimants. The exact amount you will receive will depend on your situation.
The basic element in Working Tax Credit was also increased by £20 per week. This has been extended for a further 6 months and will be paid as a one-off £500 payment. To be eligible for the payment, on 2 March 2021 you would need to have been:
- receiving Working Tax Credit only;
- receiving both Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit; or
- receiving Child Tax Credit and are eligible for Working Tax Credit but do not get a Working Tax Credit payment because your income is too high.
If eligible, you will automatically receive the £500 payment by the end of April 2021.
If you rent privately, the maximum amount of help that you can get for your rent through Housing Benefit or Universal Credit depends on several factors, such as the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate for the area you live in and the type of accommodation that you need. LHA rates have been increased across the UK. To find the rate that applies to your area, go to the Directgov website.
To find out more about how these changes may help you, please visit Turn2us. They have a benefit calculator to help you find out if and how much you may be able to claim.