Universal credit advice for customers
What do I do if Coronavirus affects my ability to work?
In line with government guidance, Job Centres have now closed, however support around Universal Credit (UC) can still be accessed online and over the phone. If you are making a new claim for UC, advances are available and can be claimed online here, or by calling the helpline on 0800 328 5644.
For all self-employed UC claimants, the minimum amount you can earn has temporarily been relaxed. This will make sure that self-employed claimants continue to be supported by the benefit system by basing their UC award on their actual earnings. If you are self-employed, you can apply to the government’s Income Support for the Self-employed Scheme to receive up to 80% of your earnings or a maximum of £2,500 per month. Please read this guidance for more advice.
The HMRC has a set up a helpline to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay tax due to coronavirus (Covid-19). You can call the HMRC helpline on 0300 4563 565.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is now available for eligible people who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 or are unable to work because they are self-isolating, in line with government advice. This also applies if you live in the same household caring for self-isolators and will begin from the first day you self-isolate. SSP is treated as earnings and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will automatically be informed of any SSP you receive and will adjust your benefits accordingly. If you have been required by law to self-isolate then you will be treated as having a Limited Capability for Work and may be entitled to claim for a work allowance.
The Contributory Employment and Support Allowance will be now be available from day one not day eight if you are eligible but unable to work because you are directly affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating.
From 6 April 2020, the government will increase the UC standard allowance and Working Tax credit basic element by £86.67 per month for one year. This measure will apply to all new and existing UC claimants and is in addition to the planned annual rise in benefits in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 1.7%. Customers already claiming UC will benefit straight away, as well as new claimants who become unemployed or whose earnings or work hours decrease because of Covid-19. Please check the gov.uk website for the most up to date information.
Can I still make a claim for UC if affected by Coronavirus?
Yes, government has issued advice telling people to making a Universal Credit claim, even if you think you may be affected by coronavirus. You can apply for Universal Credit online, or by calling 0800 328 5644.
If you have a final salary due in the next few days, it may be worth waiting until after you’ve received that payment before making your claim. If you have any questions, please contact us on 0333 400 8222 and we will be happy to provide you with further advice.
Following your application for UC you would normally be invited to attend an appointment at the Job Centre, however because they are closed all communication will now take place over the phone or online.
- If you need to self-isolate you will be treated as having a 'Limited Capability for Work'. This applies to you if you have been diagnosed as having the virus, are showing symptoms of the virus, or if you have to self-isolate because someone in your household may have the virus.
- Please check the latest information on the gov.uk website for the most up to date information.
- If you are claiming Job Seekers Allowance or UC as a jobseeker, let your work coach know if you are self-isolating and agree a new claimant commitment. Use your journal to send messages as much as possible because the phone lines are currently very busy.
- UC claimants who are treated as having a 'Limited Capability for Work', including those receiving Statutory Sick Pay, due to the Coronavirus on the day their UC is assessed will be entitled to a work allowance.
- SSP will be paid from day one of your absence from work, if you are self-isolating. For more information go to https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay.
- If you are not entitled to SSP you may be entitled to a New-Style Employment and Support Allowance. If applicable, this will be paid from day one of your absence.
- If you are self-employed and claim UC and have had to self-isolate, the Minimum Income Floor will be removed from your award while you are in self-isolation and for the whole of the Assessment Period when you stop self-isolating.
- If you are self-isolating and need to make a new claim for UC, contact the UC helpline on 0800 328 5644 to inform them - the DWP have said that they will not require you to attend the Job Centre for your New Claim Interview or Advance Payment.
- If you are self-employed, you can apply to the government’s Income Support for the Self-employed Scheme to receive up to 80% of your earnings or a maximum of £2,500 per month. Please read this guidance for more advice.
- The government has promised to give local authorities £500m to help people affected by the coronavirus to pay their council tax bill. Please check your Local Authority website for more information.
We are here to help you and can give you advice on rent and your benefits. Please keep us updated on your situation so that we are able to signpost you to the help you might need.