I'm getting Universal Credit to top up my wages. But I've had to self-isolate - is there anything I should do?
Contact your Work Coach – let them know that you are self-isolating. Provide an 'isolation notice' from NHS111 online
and request that you be treated as having a ‘Limited Capability for Work’ as someone who has a notifiable disease as per paragraph 3 of Schedule 8 of the UC regulations 2013, and, if your award does not already include a work allowance, you may now be entitled so request that this is included as this would increase your UC award. Keep looking at your UC account / texts and watch out for any ‘to-do’s’ – make sure you do complete any given to you. Keep your Work Coach informed of your situation. If you are not a 'furloughed worker' and you are likely to be off work for more than 7 days, provide the ‘isolation note’ to your employer.
I’m on UC, been working but I’ve been told that there’s no work for me for the next few weeks and I’m not protected by the Job Retention Scheme. The children are at home, but no one is ill. What should I do?
You should let your Work Coach know that you do not have any hours at present and they will review and probably set up a new claimant commitment for you. You should not be expected to look for work at the current time - the government has said work search requirements are suspended for all UC and JSA claimants until the end of June 2020 (and that could be extended). You must ensure you accept this new claimant commitment online within 7 days, otherwise your claim could be closed.
The next time your UC is assessed – at the end of your Monthly Assessment Period - it will be based on any wages that were received during that Monthly Assessment Period. So if your work income has dropped you should see an increase in your UC award.
You may become eligible for free school meals, if your earnings are less than £616.67 in any Monthly Assessment Period. You can ask the school / LA for free school meals: while schools are shut, the government have announced a voucher system for children who aren’t in school. If you qualify for free school meals for a child, you will keep that entitlement until they finish the level of education (ie. primary / secondary / further) which they are in at the time when Universal Credit is fully rolled out (now expected to be 31st December 2023).
If you cannot wait until you receive your next Universal Credit payment, you could request a Change in Circumstances Advance. Whether you receive one will be up to the DWP and it is a loan that would be repaid over 6 months out of your future UC payments.
Keep checking your texts or emails for messages from your work coach.
I’m off work at the moment due to self-isolating, but I still need to pay for my child care. Universal Credit usually pay 85% of the cost – will they still do so when I’m not actually going into work?
If you’re receiving Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), the UC rules still class you as working, so you will continue to qualify for the Childcare Costs Element of UC. But you will still need to report the childcare costs and notify UC once they are paid.
If you don’t qualify for SSP then it will depend on how quickly you go back to work. If you are back within a couple of weeks you should see no difference, but if you are off more than a month, you might find that your Childcare Costs Element stops. You could try asking your Work Coach if the Flexible Support Fund could help – explain that if you lose the childcare place you’d have to give up work.
I get Contribution Based ESA (in the support group) and Personal Independence Payment and have done for years. My partner usually works part time but has been temporarily laid off because of the Coronavirus outbreak and is going to get just 80% of her wages. We're going to struggle to pay the rent. Do we have to claim Universal Credit?
If you have been on ESA for years, it is probably ‘Old Style’ Contribution Based ESA. This means that you may be eligible for a top up from Income Related ESA, depending on how much your partner is still earning (and assuming the DWP don't treat you are still working your normal hours). But this would provide any help towards paying the rent.
If you are getting Daily Living PIP, and your partner spends 35 hours a week caring for you, then - depending on your partner's earnings - she may be able to claim Carers Allowance for looking after you. This would give you an extra £67.25 a week, but this would depend in her wages.
You may be better off on Universal Credit - the assessment would include a Standard Allowance (the UC personal allowance has increased by £20 per week for the year April 2020 - 21 (unlike ESA)), LCWRA Element and a Housing Costs Element and possibly a Carer Element too. Because you have a limited capability for work, there would be a work allowance, meaning more of your partner's wages would be ignored when your UC is calculated. Your ESA (and any Carers Allowance) would count as income when UC is calculated.
Ideally you need a benefit check to decide what is best for you.