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Coronavirus

We will do our best to keep up to date with changes, but as Government Guidance, the Law and Regulations are changing from day to day.

We can't always guarantee that this will be as up to date as possible.

The best place to keep up to date with any recent changes in law or policy is:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Am i extermely vulnerable? Can i get help?

On this page, we will be referring to extremely vulnerable people. The government is, at this point, classifying some people as vulnerable to Coronavirus and some as extremely vulnerable.

The NHS has put together some guidance on who is vulnerable and who is extremely vulnerable and the differences in advice

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/advice-for-people-at-high-risk/


It is confusing, but it is an important difference. The guidance at the moment means that to get some help, or to be in isolation and be off sick, you need to be extremely vulnerable.

The government has put together guidance about who fits what category, including an easy read guide here.

To register yourself as extremely vulnerable, so that you could get help with things such as shopping from NHS volunteers, go to this link

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable

There is guidance on social distancing, including those who are defined as vulnerable (but not extremely vulnerable) here.

There is also specific guidance for people who are pregnant available here

What do i do if i'm not extermely vulnerable? When can i leave the home?

If you are vulnerable but not extremely vulnerable then click here for NHS guidance.

You can read the government's guide to social distancing here.

The government has created a Frequently Asked Questions List, including when you can leave home. It is available here

 

Should i be in isolation?

The NHS has set up an 111 online service, where you can get an isolation note. To this this click here.

This is proof that you are currently not meant to medically leave the house.

This is specifically for those people with symptoms or who have been exposed to the Coronavirus

For sick pay, sickness benefits or time off work, you may need this or another sort of medical proof. Your first step, other than this, would be contacting your GP.

If you are worried you have the symptoms of Coronavirus, please follow the NHS guidance:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/symptoms-and-what-to-do/

If you are worried about yourself or someone you know, who is extremely vulnerable. Then Public Health England has produced guidance about how to protect yourself or others. Then please click here

 

My employer says that i cannot go to work? What is Furlough? What if my job has already stopped?

If your workplace has closed or your employer cannot offer you work because of the Coronavirus, they may talk to you about being furloughed.

If they haven't you can bring it up with them and discuss it.

Being Furloughed is when both you and the employer agree that you can be kept as an employee, but put on leave from work.

When certain conditions are met, the government will give the employer a grant that will cover 80% of your monthly earnings up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

This is called the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The specifics are covered here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Am I Included?

This scheme doesn't just include employees. It also includes:

  • Casual Workers
  • People on Zero hours contracts; and
  • Agency Workers

If someone else (i.e your employer or agency) has to pay your national insurance, you will probably be included.

What if I've already lost my job? Can I be furloughed?

If you have lost your job since the 28th February, for example through redundancy, then you're employer could re-hire you.

Then the government would allow them to use this scheme to pay you.

The employer may not be aware of this. So write to them and explain that they could use the government scheme to keep you and the government will cover the costs.

This would allow them to take you back on after the crisis.

Further Help

More is explained on the Citizens Advice website here:

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/coronavirus-if-your-employer-has-told-you-not-to-work/

Benefits

You may be able to claim benefits, such as Universal Credit, while you are on a reduced salary.

Check out our pages on Benefits and Universal Credit.

Or call us on our Adviceline, details below or available here.

 

I'm self-employed what help can i get?

The government has set up the Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Anyone who is eligible, should be able to get a grant (that is taxable) worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next three months.

At the moment you cannot apply directly for this scheme.

HMRC is looking through it's register of self-employed people and trying to identify those who are eligible and contacting them directly.

There is information about the scheme here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

When will I get it?

You may not get help until June, so you may need to claim benefits in the meantime.

Get advice about whether you are eligible and whether you may have to repay some benefits if you get a grant by contacting us.

Go our benefits page, click here

or go to our Universal Credit page, click here

 

 

I've got Coronavirus symptoms or been told by my doctor to self-isolate, can i get sick pay?

You should be able to get sick pay if you meet one of the two conditions:

  • You have the Coronavirus, have symptoms or have been contaminated with the virus; or
  • You have been medically told to self-isolate, and you cannot work from home.

Step 1:

Get an isolation note from the NHS:

https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/

This should be sufficient proof of sickness for your employer. This only applies to people with symptoms or who could have been exposed to the virus and need to self-isolate

Step 2:

Check if you are entitled to any contractual sick pay, for example 100% of your salary, 80% of your salary etc. You'll find out about this through your contract or a document such as a sickness policy.

If you aren't entitled to extra pay through your contract, most workers can get statutory sick pay.

You'll have to meet some eligibility criteria (for example how much you earn)

Click here to see whether you might be entitled

Will it include all my days sick?

Statutory Sick Pay should start from the first day of sickness if it is related to the Coronavirus

I've already been off sick for a few weeks?

You can backdated statutory sick pay when related to Coronavirus, until the 13th March 2020.

I'm worried my employer can't afford to pay me?

Businesses with less than 250 employees might be able to reclaim the cost of statutory sick pay from the government. Ask your employer to talk to HMRC if they are worried

 

I've been told i'm extermely vulnerable and need to stay at home, but i can't work from home. Should my employer pay me my usual wage, furlough me or should i get sick pay?

At the moment this is not a very clear situation.

If you find yourself having to "shield" yourself due to government guidance and your employer won't furlough you

Then take advice as soon as possible.

In the first instance, contact ACAS for employment advice, their details are:

0300 123 1100

Monday-Friday 8:00am-6:00pm

https://www.acas.org.uk/contact

Or contact us, we may need to take specialist support to answer and might not be able to answer straight away (we'd get back ot you)

You could call us on Adviceline or contact us through this website

 

What is Universal Credit? Can i claim it to help me?

Universal Credit is a benefit that can top up your income, if your household income is below a certain level (the exact amount depends on oury circumstances)

You can claim it for help supporting yourself, paying rent, looking after children as well as for other reasons

If you are already on one (or more) of the following benefits:

  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support

Then you should get a benefit check done to make sure that you won't be losing money going onto Universal Credit.

You could try it yourself online here

Or you can contact us on Adviceline (details lower down on this page) or complete an online benefits advice form here

How do I claim Universal Credit?

There is more detailed information on our Universal Credit page

You can find our how to apply here.

If you have questions before claiming, or need some help, click here.

How has Universal Credit changed due to coronavirus?

Increase in Universal Credit

Universal Credit is calculated by adding together different elements and then taking away your income.

One of these elements, the standard allowance has increased from the 6th April 2020 by more than £20 per week.

This should see an increase in payments for most Universal Credit claimants.

It should also mean that some people will now be entitled to receive Universal Credit, who weren't previously.

This is temporary, but (at the time of writing) the government has announced it will initially be for one year.

If you're not sure how you will be affected, or you think something has gone wrong and your benefit hasn't increased

Then you can complete a benefit check yourself here

Or you can contact us via Adviceline or complete an online enquiry form

People who are Self-Employed

The minimum income floor, which has affected some self-employed people. Is suspended from the 6th April 2020. This means that only your actual earnings, should be taken into account.

If this hasn't happened and you need advice then complete an enquiry form

Will I have to look for work?

For 3 months, from the 30th March, you will be treated as meeting any work conditions that you have been given by your work coach.

You will be treated as able and willing immediately to work if you would be willing to start work or attend an interview as soon as the law stops to apply (likely at the end of the crisis or lockdown)

What about my rent? Local Housing Allowance/Rent Cap

This is a restriction on the amount that Universal Credit will pay towards your housing costs, applying to private tenants.

This has been increased as of the 1st April 2020.

You can see the new Coventry rates by clicking here

Will my housing costs go up?

If you are a private tenant, then Universal Credit will work out how much help you get based on your rent or your local housing allowance/rent cap whichever is lower.

So if your rent was above the previous local housing allowance/rent cap, then you should see an increasein the amount you get towards your rent.

If you're note sure, either try a benefit check online here

Or call our Adviceline or complete an enquiry form

I think my Universal Credit should have increased? What do I do

You have one month from a decision to challenge it, there is more information about challenging Universal Credit here

Get advice if you need help

I get Housing Benefit, has this changed?

If you are receiving housing benefit and you are a private tenant then your housing benefit may increase.

The Local Housing Allowance, which is a limit on private rents, has increased from the 1st April 2020. For the new rates click here

The council will work out your housing benefit based on your rent or the local housing allowance, whichever is lowest.

So if your rent was higher than the previous local housing allowance, you should see an increase in how much housing benefit you get.

If you're not sure then complete a benefit check online or call us on our Adviceline or complete an enquiry form

If you think a mistake has been made, you have one month to appeal . To find out more click here

 

I get Working Tax Credit has that changed?

Your Working Tax Credits is made up of elements you are entitled to, and then calculated based on deducting your income.

From April 6th 2020, the basic element of working tax credits will increase by just over £1,000 for a year.

This should work out to be around £20 per week to your award.

Tax Credit calculations can be complex, so if you don't see the increase you are expecting. Then use an online benefit calculator or call us or complete an enquiry form

To have an accurate tax credit calculation, you'll need full details of your household income for 6th April 2019-5th April 2020 and what you expect to earn from 6th April 2020-5th April 2021 (or your best estimate)

I think my Tax Credits is wrong?

If you think the calculation is wrong, then you have 30 days to challenge the decision. See more here

If you need help call us or complete an enquiry form

Will Child Tax Credits increase?

At the moment it is only working tax credits that has increased. If you want to check whether you would be better off on Universal Credit call us or complete an enquiry form

 

What about Jobseekers Allowance?

New Style Jobseekers

If you are receiving "new style" contribution based Jobseekers Allowance, otherwise known as "new style JSA)

Then for 3 months, from the 30th March 2020. You will be treated as meeting any work conditions that you have in your claim.

This applies as long as you would be willing to start work or attend an interview once the law stops to apply (probably at the end of the crisis or lockdown)

Old Style Jobseekers/income related Jobseekers Allowance

This would be mainly income-based jobseekers allowance claims.

You will be treated as available for employment and actively seeking employment automatically for 3 months from the 30th March 2020.

Sickness and Jobseekers

If you receiving jobseekers allowance and you are sick because:

  • You have been infected or contaminated with Coronavirus Disease; or
  • you are in Isolation; or
  • you care caring for a child or young person (who counts as a child for child benefit, tax credits or universal credit) who is a member of your household and is themselves infected or contaminated or in isolation

You may be asked to provide some medical evidence

So if you continue to meet the general rules of jobseekers allowance, other than that you are sick and unable to look for work (or in isolation) then you will still be treated as meeting all the rules for jobseekers.

So you won't be asked to claim another benefit and will continue to receive your jobseekers allowance

I rent my house, how has Coronavirus changed things? What's an illegal eviction?

Evictions

The government has temporarily changed the law regarding most notices for evicting tenants who rent from a landlord.

This applies whether you rent from a private landlord, a council or a housing association (such as Citizen or Orbit)

For most tenancies (but not all) then from the 26th March 2020 landlords will be required to give three months notice until the landlord can start court proceedings

In addition all court hearings are on hold until the 25 June 2020.

Keep up to date with changes here

My Landlord is putting pressure on me to leave

In almost all cases, a landlord needs to get a court order to remove you from your property.

Any attempt to get you to leave without a court order could be an illegal eviction.

Get help as soon as possible if you faced with this.

Call Shelter's helpline here, complete an enquiry form or contact the Coventry Law Centre for urgent help.

You can also contact Coventry Council's housing enforcement team who could take action against the landlord here

Do I still have to pay my rent?

At the moment the government hasn't announced anything that would freeze rents, so rent is still payable.

Check out our benefit or universal credit pages to see if you can get help with your rent.

I have or think i have care needs? Or need help as a carer? What has changed?

The government has relaxed laws which regulate social services, and what they have to do to assess and provide care to those who may have support needs or are carers.

Broadly this has meant that in most cases social services won't have a duty to assess or take action, but they continue to have the power to do so.

In addition they don't need to do a financial assessment, but if they choose not to they can't charge you.

They still have a responsibility to ensure that people's human rights are not breached, and so may have a duty to provide care where it looks like not doing so would breach these rights.

We couldn't (as of writing) find simple guidance on this, but there is detailed guidance on gov.uk here

There is also guidance on changes to Hospital Discharge here

I'm a Carer, how have my benefits changed?

If you are a carer and you receive carers allowance, then the rules have been changed to allow you to continue to be treated as a carer if there is a break due to the Coronavirus.

You should be continue to count as a carer (and receive carers allowance) if the only reason you can't care for the person you're looking after is because of either of the two reasons below:

  • You or the person you look after, are in isolation due to the Coronavirus; or
  • Either of you have been infected or contaminated with it

It will be likely that you'll still get the carers premiums on any benefits you get, if you still receive carers allowance.

If you're not sure, complete an enquiry form here

I have a mortgage and i'm struggling. What help is there?

During the current crisis, your mortgage lender should be willing to offer you a minimum of three month mortgage holiday if you are affected by coronavirus (including if you income has dropped because of it).

Get In touch with your mortgage company as soon as possible to discuss this, if this is something you might need.

You will need to check how this would affect future payments (they may be higher)

There is information here from the money advice service

If you're worried about how this will change future mortgage payments, or want to understand how it will, you might need to speak to a financial adviser about the implications. There may be a cost for this.

Find out more about how to get financial advice here

I'm struggling with my council tax, or have council tax debts? What is going to happen?

Firstly, if your income has dropped, then consider applying for council tax reduction which might reduce your bill. To find out how to apply go to the council's website

Coventry Council has also announced several ways it will be changing council tax during the Coronavirus:

  • You can ask to delay your council, you will pay between June and March, if you wish to do this they ask you to email them on counciltax@coventry.gov.uk
  • If you miss a payment during April or May. They will not take court action as long as the account is up to date by June. If you can’t bring it up to date by then, they ask you to get in touch with them to try and spread the payments, counciltax@coventry.gov.uk. If you need advice on whether this is affordable and options, come through to our debt team, enquiry form:
  • The council’s bailiffs (enforcement agents) which at the moment are Newlyn and Equita, have been told not to visit people in April and May about new or existing debts. They may phone or write to you.

To read this information on the council's website and find the telephone number click here

I'm still worried about bailiffs

If you need bailiff advice then complete an enquiry form

Or check the Citizens Advice website here

If the bailiff threatens to visit you during this time, contact us for advice or contact the council directly (if possible tell them the name and company of the bailiff)

Can i call you? What is your Adviceline number?

If you wish to speak to Coventry Citizens Advice over the phone, then either complete an enquiry form

Or you can call our Adviceline on:

0800 144 8884

Monday-Friday

9:00am-4:00pm

Calls should cost the same as an call to a local number.

If you ask us to call you back following an enquiry form, there will be no charge.

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