Information for customers affected financially by coronavirus

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This is a difficult time for so many people.

We've tried to answer a couple of questions you might have if you're in employment and are ill or affected by coronavirus.

We've split this information into sections to make it easier for you to find what's relevant to you.

1 - Ill or self-isolating due to coronavirus


Employed


Self-employed


Assuming you cannot work from home:

  1. Are you entitled to contractual sick pay?
  2. Could you take annual leave instead?
  3. Check entitlement to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
  4. Check entitlement to benefits (section 4)

Your rights to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) depend on your employment status and earnings.

If you’re an employee and earn at least £120 a week, you will be able to get £95.85 per week for up to 28 weeks. Normally you must be off for at least four days in a row, but the government has announced SSP will be paid from the first day you are off sick if it is related to coronavirus.

If your employer refuses to pay SSP, or is not paying you the full amount, you should contact the HM Revenue and Customs statutory payment dispute team:

Telephone: 03000 560 630

Monday to Thursday: 8.30am to 5pm

Friday: 8.30am to 4.30pm

If you’re self-employed, a contractor, work on a freelance basis, in the gig economy or on a zero hours contract, your rights to sick pay and time off are much more limited.

Unless it has been agreed as part of your contract, you will not be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, sick leave or paid holiday leave.

If you are unable to get Statutory Sick Pay, you may be able to claim other benefits. See further below.

2 - Lost income due to coronavirus affecting employment


Employed– Furlough scheme


If your employer has no work for you, they can lay you off temporarily – this is known as ‘furloughing’. Since March 2020, employers have been able to apply to the HMRC for funding for 80% of a furloughed employee's wages, up £2,500 per month, which they must then pay to the employee. They can choose to top it up to full salary if they wish to but do not have to. Applications to this scheme remain open until the end of July 2020 in respect of periods of furlough which started no later than 10 June 2020. If employers want to start furloughing staff after 10 June 2020 they will not be able to access the government scheme.

From 1 July 2020 employers can bring back furloughed employees part-time and still receive funding from HMRC of up to 80% of the rest of the normal hours they would work. The scheme is currently due to be available up to the end of October 2020. Employees should continue to receive at least 80% of their normal wages, although in September and October employers will get less support from the government to do this.

Note that the way 80% of your wages is calculated depends on your pattern of pay and how long you have worked for that employer. If you are not sure if you are receiving the correct amount, contact our Benefits Team for advice.

If you are furloughed on reduced pay, you may also be eligible for Universal Credit or an increase in current benefits or tax credits to top-up your loss of income. Working Tax Credit claimants can continue to be treated as ‘workers’ despite not working due to being furloughed and do not need to report this to the HMRC.

Self-employed - Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)


If you are self-employed and your income has been affected due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for apply for the SEISS grant if you meet all the following criteria:

  • have submitted your Income Tax Self-Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19
  • traded in the tax year 2019-20
  • are trading when you apply, or would be except for COVID-19
  • intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-21
  • have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19
  • more than half your income comes from self-employment
  • have trading profits of less than £50,000 in the 2018/19 year, or alternatively an average of less than £50,000 across the 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 years (if you started trading since April 2016, those returns you have filed will be taken into account).

The HMRC should have contacted those who could be eligible to invite them to claim the grant. Applications for the first grant are open until 13 July 2020. The HMRC are planning on making a second and final grant available in August 2020. The first grant pays 80% of your averaged trading profits from 2016-2019 for a 3 month period, capped at £7,500 total. The second grant will pay 70% and is capped at £6,570.

The grants will be taxable and will be treated as self-employment income by means-tested benefits. This means that you may still be entitled to means-tested benefits even if you have been receiving these grants. Note that if you are claiming Universal Credit, the grants will count as income during the month in which you receive the grant, but may affect entitlement in future months too, depending on how much you received.

3 - Redundancy


If you think your employer may be considering letting you go due to not needing your role any more, or has already made you redundant, you might find it useful to read these guides on the Money Advice Service website.

You may also be entitled to claim benefits – see below and/or get in touch with our benefits advice team for help.

4 - Benefits for working-age people


Am I entitled to benefits?


If you have lost income due to coronavirus and are in receipt of any means-tested benefits like Housing Benefit, Council Tax Support/Reduction, Universal Credit or Tax Credits, you should report your loss of income to the benefit offices managing your claim to see if your benefits can be increased. You may also be able to claim additional benefits – see below for a list.

Free school meals vouchers

The government has announced a scheme for parents who are entitled to free school meals to access support when their child cannot attend school. Free school meals are generally available for those on means-tested benefits: click here for more information and how to apply. To access the vouchers, you should contact your child’s school.

Note the government has announced a one-year increase to the rates of Universal Credit, Housing Benefit and Working Tax Credits worth £1,000 starting from 6 April 2020. This means more people will be entitled to some help than before.

You may also be able to claim additional benefits – contact our Benefits Team for advice (and there is a list below):

5 - Benefits for pensioners


6 - Seek advice

If you (and your partner if you have one) have reached your state pension age, you may be able to claim Pension Credit (which provides an income top-up) and Housing Benefit (for help with rent) instead.

To claim Pension Credit, call 0800 99 1234 or you can claim online, unless you do not receive a state pension or you are claiming for dependent children, at https://apply-for-pension-credit.dwp.gov.uk/start

To claim Housing Benefit, contact your local authority.

If you are a couple and one of you is over their pension age and one is under, and you get Pension Credit or Housing Benefit, then you may be able to make a claim for the other. However, if you get neither, then you will need to consider the other benefits listed further above.


For further advice, our Benefit and Money Advice team may be able to help.

Visit their dedicated page to find out more.