Benefits and COVID-19
If you are unable to work due to COVID-19 there may be financial help available.
Self Isolation Support Grants
From 12th October the Scottish Welfare Fund will be administering the Scottish Government Self Isolation Support Grants (SISGs).
The purpose of the grant is to assist people in receipt of low incomes to self-isolate to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This should support people to be able to afford to comply with the Test & Protect Service's requirement for them to self-isolate during the 14 day period.
If you are struggling financially and need some short-term assistance to help with the cost of food, fuel and other essential items such as nappies or toiletries until your next payment of benefit or until you are paid your wages you may be eligible for a Crisis Grant.
It is extremely important that you contact us, under the circumstances preferably by email, to get the right advice for your situation, benefits advice for self-employed people can be more complex:
The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has been extended from 1 November 2020.
To be eligible for the extension you must:
- have been previously eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme first and second grant (although you do not have to have claimed the previous grants)
- declare that you intend to continue to trade and either:
- are currently actively trading but are impacted by reduced demand due to coronavirus or
- were previously trading but are temporarily unable to do so due to coronavirus
The extension will last for six months, from November 2020 to April 2021. Grants will be paid in two lump sum instalments each covering a three-month period.
The first grant will cover a three-month period from 1 November 2020 until 31 January 2021. The Government will provide a taxable grant calculated at 80% of 3 months average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £7,500 in total.
The second grant will cover a three-month period from 1 February 2021 until 30 April 2021. The Government will review the level of the second grant and set this in due course.
The grants are taxable income and also subject to National Insurance contributions.
The online service for the next grant will be available from 30 November 2020.
If you are not covered by this scheme there may be other support available.
If you have paid National Insurance (NI) contributions you may be able to claim New Style Employment & Support Allowance (NS ESA) to replace your income depending on your situation:
- If you are self-isolating, shielding under NHS advice or unwell you may qualify for NS ESA if you have paid enough NI contributions. The position is less clear if you are social distancing. If you haven't paid enough you may be in a position to pay voluntary contributions so that NS ESA can be paid, although you will have to wait 8 weeks before your NS ESA can be paid. It is important to make sure that your NI contributions are up to date for State Pension too.
- NS ESA is paid fortnightly in arrears.
If you don't pay NI contributions or haven't paid enough you may qualify for Universal Credit (UC) to replace your income:
- Making a claim for UC will end any claims for legacy benefits that are in payment. Legacy benefits are Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit and Housing benefit. If you are receiving any of these benefits please seek our advice before claiming UC.
- If you were to claim Universal Credit then you will not receive your first payment for five weeks but you can apply for an advance payment, if you wish to do so.
Perth and Kinross Council's local partners can offer free support with a wide range of business matters.
Working and not claiming benefits
- If you cannot work due to COVID-19 and are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) you will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of your illness. SSP will be payable if you are staying at home on Government advice or shielding under NHS advice, not just if you are infected by COVID-19.
- If you are a gig worker and/or on a zero hours contract, you may be entitled to sick pay. Check your eligibility for SSP.
- If you have been told to self isolate and your employer needs a note you can get an isolation note online.
- If you are not eligible to receive sick pay depending on your income, savings and make up of your household, you might have entitlement to UC.
- If you have made enough NI contributions you may be entitled to NS ESA or NS JSA.
- If your employer cannot cover staff costs due to COVID-19 they may be able to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and pay you 80% of your regular wages up to a monthly cap of £2,500.
- If you are made redudant you may have benefit entitlement and should contact us for advice.
- If you need advice on workplace rights ACAS provide free and impartial advice to employers and employees.
- Perth and Kinross Council's Employment Connections Hub offers support and advise to job seeking clients with all aspects of employability skills in Perth.
Help with Rent & Council Tax
- If you are already receiving Housing Benefit then you may simply have to report a change of circumstances to the Housing Benefit Team by calling 01738 476049 or emailing Housing Benefit.
- If you haven't been receiving Housing Benefit then you may be entitled to UC.
- If you have been receiving UC then you should report a change of circumstances via your UC Journal.
- Depending on your income and savings you may be entitled to Council Tax Reduction.
Help with mortgage
- Please contact your lender to enquire about payment breaks.
- If you are claiming certain benefits you may be entitled to Support for Mortgage Interest.
Already claiming benefits
- The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have temporarily suspended all face-to-face assessments for health and disability-related benefits.
- If you have made a claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), UC or Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) but do not have a date for an assessment appointment, you do not need to do anything. You will be contacted shortly by telephone or letter to let you know what will happen next.
- If you are already receiving PIP, ESA, UC or IIDB you will continue to receive your current payments as normal.
- If you have made a new claim or wish to make a new claim, DWP will continue to take claims for all benefits.
Jobcentre Appointments and Claimant Commitments
- If you have a jobcentre appointment but are staying at home on Government advice or have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you will not be sanctioned if you tell DWP in good time. If you have a Claimant Commitment, it will be reviewed to make sure it is still reasonable.
- If you are staying at home as a result of COVID-19, your mandatory work search and work availability requirements will be removed to account for a period of sickness.
- If you're already claiming UC and think you may have been affected by COVID-19, please contact your work coach as soon as possible either through your online journal or by calling the UC helpline.
- If you are in work and already claiming UC, and are staying at home on Government advice, you should report this in the usual way via your online journal. If this means you are working fewer hours, the amount of UC you receive will adjust as your earnings change.