COVID-19 BENEFIT ADVICE

1. I am self employed and self-isolating what help can I get?

If you have paid NI Contributions for the last 2 years you may be able to claim the new style ESA.  You can find more information https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance/how-to-claim.  You should be able to claim from day one.  You may also be entitled to Universal Credit due to reduction of income for housing cost if renting.  The minium income floor will not apply.  To make a claim visit https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit

If you are self employed and already claiming Universal Credit, then the 'minimum income floor' for universal credit will be removed.  If you have been running your business for a year or longer when you claim Universal Credit, the Government work out your benefit payment based on the minimum income floor.  If you earn more than the minimum income floor you get less Universal Credit, while if you earn less than the minimum income floor you currently do not get any extra money to make up the difference.

Removing the minimum income floor means that some claimants will get extra money to make up for lost earnings, if they decrease due to the coronavirus.

HRMC has set up a dedicated COVID-19 helpline to help self-employed in financial distress due to tax liabilities to agree a Time to Pay Arrangement.  If you run a business or are self-employed and are concerned about paying your tax due to coronavirus, you can call HMRC's helpline for help and advice : 0800 0159 559

2. I am on a zero-hour contract? Am I entitled to any sick pay?

Agency, casual and zero-hour workers can get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they meet the eligibiity conditions.  This means you must earn an average of £118 per week.  If you earn less than that you may be able to claim the New Style ESA and/or Universal Creidt.

3. I am struggling to pay my rent, what help can i get?

You may be able to claim Universal Credit/Housing Benefit (dependent on age and type of housing) if your income has reduced.  If you already get some housing benefit towards your rent but are still struggling, you may be able to claim Discretionary Housing Payments.

4. I can't meet my mortgage payments, what shall I do?

Many banks have announced 3  months mortgage holiday.  This means they all should offer those struffling a three-month 'holiday', allowing customers a temporary break from having to make mortgage payments during this time.  You should contact your mortgage provider to arrange this.