COVID 19 Support and Information
The Benefits service is dealing with an increased volume of enquiries and claims and this is causing unavoidable delays. Please do not visit the Council. Request/send in information by email at firstname.lastname@example.org - put "Claim Ref" and your claim number in the subject line, e.g Claim Ref 12345 - or send by post.
Visit the Housing Benefit page to see if you claim help with your rent from us or Universal Credit. Visit the Council Tax Support page to see how to claim help with your Council Tax. Visit the Universal Credit page for advice about UC and how to claim.
If you have to visit us because you can't email us you can leave any documents in a sealed envelope with your name and address in the post box outside to the right of the entrance.
Please see below for a summary of additional measures the Government has put into place to help low income households during the current COVID-19 crisis.
You can find the latest National advice and guidance through the Government website. This includes information on other financial help and advice.
Test and Trace Support Payment
The Government has announced a scheme for people who are working, on a low income and will lose money if they self-isolate.
From 28 September 2020, low income workers will be entitled to a Test and Trace Support Payment of £500 if they:
- Have been told to stay at home and self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, either because they have tested positive for coronavirus or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive (there is an 8 digit ID code issued by NHS Test and Trace that MUST be supplied to us in order to qualify);
- Are employed or self-employed;
- Are unable to work from home and will lose income as a result;
- Are currently receiving Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit.
In addition, there is a discretionary payment available for people who fulfil the above criteria except:
- they are not currently receiving those benefits listed above; and
- they are on a low household income and will face financial hardship as a result of not being able to work while they are self-isolating.
This payment is designed to support people on low incomes, if they will lose income as a result of self-isolating, and to encourage them to get tested if they have symptoms. The Government says this is important to help stop the transmission of COVID-19 and avoid further restrictions. The scheme will last until 31 January 2021.
Those told to self-isolate on or after 28 September will be able to make a backdated claim for payment, as long as they apply within 14 days of the end of their self-isolation.
You can apply for the payment here.
Who is not eligible?
You are not eligible for the scheme if you:
- are quarantining after travelling abroad (unless you test positive during the 14 day quarantine period and are told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace);
- Continue to receive full wages while you self-isolate;
- Can work from home during a period of self-isolation;
- Your period of self-isolation ended before 28 September 2020;
- Have not received a notification from NHS Test and Trace telling you to self-isolate.
Extra Council Tax Support for working age households
Working age Council Tax payers who get Council Tax Support will be entitled to a further reduction in their Council Tax for 2020/21. We’ll credit your account with an extra £150, or if your balance is less than that, then until your Council Tax bill is zero.
We’ll process this automatically so you don’t need to contact us. If we assess your claim you will get a new bill, and if you are on Universal Credit you may get a new bill every month if your payments change. To get your new bill by email go to our “receive your bill by email” webpage or email email@example.com and put your council Tax account number in the subject line so that you get your amended Council Tax demand notice quickly.
Local Housing Allowance
If we still pay you Housing Benefit, we will be able to pay you a little more. Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates were increased from April to cover up to 30% of the market rent in your area. The new rates are available on our Housing Benefit page.
All our benefit claims have been adjusted and we notified you by email or letter.
Increase in the Additional Earnings Disregard
We recalculated entitlement for households where you or your partner work 16 hours or more per week, and you would be or are entitled to Working Tax Credit. This is because the basic rate of Working Tax Credit increased and this ensures you don't lose out on this in your Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support.