Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.
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Coronavirus: Summary of Measures
Summary of measures

General

Job Retention Scheme that provides a grant to employers to enable them to pay the wages of their workforce who remain on payroll but who are temporarily not working during the Coronavirus outbreak. Click here.

Self-Employed Income Support Scheme that provides self-employed people who are eligible for the scheme a taxable grant. Click here.

New test and trace support payment for low-income workers. From 28th September 2020, the payment of £500 is for people in receipt of certain benefits who normally work, but who are having to self-isolate at home, who are unable to work from home and are not being paid by their employer. Ignored as income for UC, Tax Credits, HB etc

JSA and UC work availability and work search requirements were suspended for 3 months from 30th March 2020 - however since 1st July 2020 new claimants are expected to sign claimant commitments that include work search. Click here.

All requirements to attend appointments at the Jobcentre in person were suspended for 3 months, starting from Thursday 19 March 2020. Jobcentres remained open, but only for the most vulnerable claimants, such as homeless people, and by appointment only. Since 1st July 2020 Jobcentres are open to more claimants, although still restricted. Click here

The DWP initially postponed all face-to-face medical assessments for UC, ESA, PIP and IIDB until 19th June 2020 - with paper and telephone assessment replacing some. On 22nd June they announced an extension of reviews and reassessments whilst they review what activity they can restart. Click here

The DWP suspended recovery of certain debts from 3rd April 2020 for 3 months. On 3rd July 2020 these debts started to be collected again. Click here

Council Tax Hardship fund reduces Council Tax Bills by up to £150 for anyone in receipt of Council Tax Support / Rebate. Click here

Rules to provide support for those children eligible for free school meals who were not attending school could - generally in the form of a voucher - were put into place. These  continued during the 2020 summer holidays and for some during the Autumn half term. Click here

In England and Wales certain prisoners who are being released early due to the Coronavirus do not fall under the definition of 'prisoner' and are thereby able to claim means-tested benefits (or be included in a claim for means-tested benefits). Click here

The part of the Funeral Payment that covers the costs of additional expenses such as flowers, car hire, the funeral ceremony and funeral director charges for making the arrangements increases to £1,000 (from £700) for all deaths on or after 8th April 2020.

Many General Register Offices running a very limited service. Temporary measures has been put in place that means new parents can still claim Child Benefit without having to register their child’s birth first. Click here

Statutory Sick Pay

Payable from day 1 of sickness (rather than day 4).

As getting a fit note could be problematic, employers are urged to use their discretion about what evidence, if any, they ask for.

Where claimants need one, they are able to get an ‘isolation note’ from the NHS 111 Online service.

Those classed as 'self-isolating' are treated as being incapable of work. Special rules were in place for those 'shielding'.

Click here for more details.

New-Style Employment and Support Allowance

Payable from day 1 of sickness (rather than day 8)..

Not required to produce a ‘fit note’ or 'isolation note'.

Those 'self-isolating' are treated as having a limited capability for work.

Click here for more information.

 

Jobseekers Allowance

Those getting Jobseekers Allowance are treated as being capable of work when 'self-isolating'. This period is not therefore counted as a period of sickness and a JSA claimant will not lose entitlement to Jobseeker’s Allowance because of Coronavirus. 

 

Carers Allowance

Carers will remain entitled to Carers Allowance if they have a temporary break in caring as a result of isolation due to, or infection or contamination with, Coronavirus of either the carer or the person cared for. 

In England and Wales this concession remains in place until 12th November 2020.
Regulation 9 of The Social Security (Coronavirus) (Further Measures) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/371)

In Scotland this concession remains in place until 3rd December 2020
Regulation 2 of The Carer’s Allowance (Coronavirus) (Breaks in Care) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 (SSI 2020/117)


Maternity Allowance, SMP, SAP, SPP, SSPP, SPBP

Regulations in force from 25th April 2020 apply where a person is a furloughed employee for the purposes of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and provide that normal weekly earnings (or average weekly earnings in the case of Maternity Allowance) are to be calculated to take into account the sums which a person would have earned if they had not been on furlough during the relevant period. It is expected that this provision will end when the Job Retention Scheme ends.

The Maternity Allowance, Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay, Statutory Shared Parental Pay and Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (Normal Weekly Earnings etc.) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/ 450)


Pension Credit

Claims have been able to be made online since 4th May 2020. This change is intended to relieve pressure on the DWP's telephony system and to allow people to claim state Pension Credit without having to leave their home.

Universal Credit

Standard Allowance increased by £20 a week for 12 months from 6th April 2020. Click here.

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) changes from 1st April 2020 – pay for at least 30% of market rates.
This means a ‘re-set’ of LHA rates, which have, in the main, been frozen since 2015. Click here
And hotels and bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) used in the ‘Everyone In’ initiative in England (and similar provisions in Scotland and Wales) to accommodate homeless people and rough sleepers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak may fall under the definition of 'hostel' when considering exemption from the Shared Accommodation Rate. Click here

Minimum Income Floor (MIF) suspended for everyone during the Coronavirus outbreak. Click here

Claimants aren't required to produce a 'fit note' or 'isolation note' to prove they have Coronavirus or are 'self-isolating'.

Those who have contracted Coronavirus or are 'self-isolating' AND have written notification that they are not allowed to go to work (we assume an 'isolation note' is enough) are treated as having a Limited Capability for Work (LCW) and therefore entitled to a work allowance if treated as having LCW on date their UC award is assessed

The managed migration pilot that was running in Harrogate has been suspended - click here

For more information on Coronavirus and Universal Credit - click here.

Working Tax Credit

The basic element of Working Tax Credit is increased by £20 a week for 12 months from 6th April 2020.

For more information on Coronavirus and Tax Credits - click here

Where a claimant has been furloughed or has seen a reduction in their hours  - and this is a temporary measure due to the Coronavirus outbreak  - then they will be treated as working their normal hours  - ends when Job Retention Scheme ends..

Tax Credits 

Time limit for critical workers to report changes of circumstances for Tax Credit purposes extended from one month to three. Ends when Job Retention Scheme ends.

Housing Benefit

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) - for private tenancies - changed from 1st April 2020.This means a ‘re-set’ of LHA rates, which have, in the main, been frozen since 2015. Some claimants have seen a dramatic increase in their award. However for some this means they are now subject to the Benefit Cap. The change in LHA rates has been described by the government as a 'permanent uplift".

And hotels and bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) used in the ‘Everyone In’ initiative in England (and similar provisions in Scotland and Wales) to accommodate homeless people and rough sleepers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak may fall under the definition of 'hostel' when considering exemption from the Shared Accommodation Rate. Click here

Increase in the ’30 Hour’ earnings disregard (given to the majority of claimants who are either getting Working Tax Credit or meet the rules for it) from £17.10 per week to £37.10 a week up until 5th April 2021.

For more information on Coronavirus and Housing Benefit click here

 

Scotland

The Scottish Government has temporarily changed eligibility for a number of social security benefits to help people who are impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak. 

The move is to ensure people who can’t get an application in on time due to things such as illness or caring responsibilities can still get the support that they need. 

Taken from here

Best Start Grant - If someone does not get any other benefits, they normally need to be under 18 to be eligible for Best Start Grant. If they could not apply before they turned 18 because of disruption caused by COVID-19, an application will still be considered.

Pregnancy and baby payment - A baby normally needs to be under six months old for a parent to be eligible for Pregnancy and Baby Payment. If they could not apply before the baby turned six months old due to the disruption caused by COVID-19, an application will still be considered.

Early Learning Payment - A child normally needs to be between two years old and three years six months old for a parent or carer to be eligible for Early Learning Payment. If they could not apply before then due to the disruption caused by COVID-19, an application will still be considered.

Funeral Support Payment - If a person could not apply for Funeral Support Payment within six months of the funeral taking place due to the disruption caused by COVID-19, an application will still be considered.

Young Carer Grant - A young carer normally needs to be under 19 years old. If they could not apply before they turned 19 because of disruption caused by COVID-19, an application will still be considered.

Carer's Allowance Supplement - additional payment of £230.10 for the period 1st April to 30th September 2020.

Council Tax Reduction  - earnings disregard increased to match the increase in Working Tax Credit. Up to 3rd April 2021.

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