CORONAVIRUS POLICY UPDATES

The government is announcing new measures to ease the financial burden of coronavirus every day. Here’s a roundup of what’s happened so far.

Social and privately-rented housing:

  • Emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation while this national emergency is taking place
  • No new possession proceedings through applications to the court to start during the crisis
  • Landlords will also be protected as 3-month mortgage payment holiday is extended to Buy to Let mortgages

Statutory sick pay (SSP): 

Emergency legislation is being brought forward for employees who are self-isolating because of coronavirus (COVID-19). They will be able to get SSP from the first day they are off work.

From Friday 20 March onwards, those who have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate will be able to obtain an “isolation note” by visiting NHS 111 online and completing an online form, rather than visiting a doctor. For COVID-19 cases this replaces the usual need to provide a “fit note” after seven days of sickness absence. Isolation notes will also be accepted by Jobcentre Plus as evidence of your inability to attend.

Mortgage payment holidays:

A three-month mortgage holiday is available to homeowners struggling financially during the outbreak. Contact your lender to discuss

Schools:

All schools closed from Friday 20th March until further notice except for children of key workers and vulnerable children. A list of key workers is here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision

Primary school assessments or secondary exams will also be postponed.

Free school meals:

Schools will be able to provide meals or vouchers for supermarkets or local shops. The total value of vouchers offered to each eligible child per week will exceed the rate it pays to schools for free school meals https://www.gov.uk/government/news/schools-colleges-and-early-years-settings-to-close

Self-employment, Universal Credit and the Minimum Income Floor:

If you are self-employed and receiving Universal Credit and you have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate, the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed. This change took effect on 13 March and will last for the duration of the outbreak, to ensure that self-employed UC claimants will receive support.

New-style Employment and Support Allowance:

If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate.

Local authority hardship fund:

The government has allocated £500 million to local authorities to provide support for people in financial hardship. More details will follow

Consumer credit:

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) called on lenders to use flexibility built into their rules to support consumers, taking into account customers’ individual circumstances. Many major lenders have already made statements to this effect

Salaries

Government grants will cover 80% of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month. Employers can top up salaries further if they choose to. This is backdated to the 1st of March. 

Benefits

The Universal Credit standard allowance and the Working Tax Credit basic element has been increased for the next 12 months by £1,000 a year. 

JobCentre appointments

All JobCentre appointments have been cancelled for 3 months.

Help for the self-employed

People who are self-employed will receive a direct cash grant of 80% of their profits, up to £2,500 per month. This is open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19 or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.

BESTWOOD ADVICE CENTRE FACTSHEETS

Bestwood Advice Centre have produced a range of factsheets about Coronavirus.

Take a look at the information at https://www.bestwoodadvice.org.uk/covid-19-useful-factsheets