Benefits and COVID-19
If you are unable to work due to COVID-19 there may be financial help available.
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:
If your income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19 support may be available through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS):
- Provides a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
- HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant.
- Open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000.
- Open for an initial three months with people able to make their first claim by the beginning of June.
To be eligible you must:
- Be self-employed or a member of partnership;
- Have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19;
- File a tax return for 2018-19 as self-employed or a member of a trading partnership. Those who have not yet filed for 2018-19 have an additional 4 weeks to do so;
- Have traded in 2019-20; be currently trading at the point of application (or would be except for COVID 19) and intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021;
- Have trading profits of less than £50,000 and more than half of your total income come from self-employment.
HMRC will contact those that are eligible and invite them to apply one the scheme is operational. They are publishing guidance on (SEISS), which they will continue to update.
Grants are expected to start to be paid by the beginning of June. In the meantime 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 continue to pay you 80% of your wage up to £2,500 per month.
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 already have an assessment appointment arranged, you do not need to attend. Your assessment provider will contact you to discuss your appointment and explain the next steps to you.
- 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
- People receiving benefits do not have to attend jobcentre appointments for at least 3 months, starting from Thursday 19 March 2020. People will continue to receive their benefits as normal, but all requirements to attend the jobcentre in person are suspended.
- 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.
- If you are self-employed and claiming UC, and are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus, the Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) will not be applied for a period of time whilst you are affected.