There are a lot of changes to people's personal circumstances at the moment and changes in the support available. We've listed below some helpful advice and guidance on where to find further financial information and support along with some frequently asked financial questions and answers.

 If you need any help or advice with your rent account or if you are worried about a change in circumstances due to loss of earnings, please contact us on 0800 678 1228. We can assist with income maximisation and tenancy sustainment issues. It is important you keep in touch with us if you are experiencing problems.

Our benefits calculator is up to date with all the latest Coronavirus benefit changes. Give it a try to see what you are entitled to. 

Please note that the government has announced emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation during the coronavirus crisis. Please remember this is suspend and not erase - if you don't pay your rent the arrears will accumulate. Please contact us so we can help or get in touch with some of the links below.

If you currently pay your rent in cash, we would ask that you consider making alternative arrangements in the meantime e.g. card payments or online payments. We may contact you to discuss this further.

Q: I work full time and my employer has advised me to self- isolate for 14 days. Am I entitled to claim any benefits?

A: Your employer should pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from the first day you were advised to self- isolate. SSP is £94.25 per week. If you are not entitled to SSP and or need help with rent costs you may be able to claim Universal Credit. Entitlement will depend on your household income. There is currently no need to provide medical evidence or attend a work capability assessment. If you do get an appointment to attend a Job Centre contact them immediately to explain your situation to avoid a sanction.

Q: I have lost my job/or laid of temporarily with no income. Can I claim anything?

A: You should make a claim for Universal Credit. Claims can be made online at https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit. You can access the claim form online, on your local authority website or by telephoning them. If you do not have access to a computer or ipad, please call Universal Credit on 0800 328 5644. You may also be able to claim for a reduction in your council tax.

Q: How do I make a claim to Universal Credit (UC)?

A: Claims can be made online by accessing https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit, you will need to create a username, password and answer two security questions. You will then be sent a code by email which you need to enter in the appropriate box which will then allow you to complete your claim. You must provide details of your rent and service charge amounts separately on the claim to confirm your total monthly rent charge. Please contact your Neighbourhood Officer if you are unsure how much these are. Couples need to make individual claims to Universal Credit therefore both need to have email addresses and create passwords and security questions. Although the claims are made individually, they must be made at the same time and the claims are joined together for entitlement purposes. If you are self-isolating or are infected with Coronavirus please let DWP know so that your ID can be verified without the need to attend the Job Centre. If you do get an appointment to attend a Job Centre contact them immediately to explain your situation to avoid your claim being closed. If you are unable to complete an online claim, please contact Universal Credit on 0800 328 5644.

The Citizens Advice Bureau’s “Help to Claim” service can support you in the early stages of your Universal Credit claim, from the application, through to your first payment. Their National helpline number is 0800 023 2581

Q: When will I receive my first Universal Credit payment?

A: One month plus one week from the date of claim. e.g. for a claim made to Universal Credit 18th March, the first payment will be made 24th April. Any subsequent payments should be paid on the 24th of each month.

Q: I have no money to keep me going until I get a payment from Universal Credit. What do I do?

A: You can claim an advance from Universal Credit. This must be paid back at an agreed amount. You may also be able to claim for a Scottish Welfare Fund crisis grant from your Local Authority. This is usually payable in the form of food and utility vouchers. If you require a food parcel you can contact your local foodbank. If you need advice or help with this please contact your local housing office or CAB

Q: Will I need to attend the Job Centre if I am self- isolating for any claims I make to benefits?

A: Currently, anyone self- isolating or infected with Coronavirus, will not be required to attend the Job Centre for the initial interview with the Job Coach and ID interview. The work search and work availability requirements for Universal Credit will be temporarily switched off also. Please contact Universal Credit on 0800 328 5644 and make them aware you are self- isolating, failing to do this may result in your claim not being processed or if you have an ongoing claim, prevent a sanction.

Q: I am self-employed and due to current situation have no work or I am having to self- isolate, what can I claim?

A: Claim Universal Credit online at https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit, or by calling 0800 328 5644. Currently Universal Credit have suspended the minimum floor income, (an assumed level of income) applied for a period of time. Alternatively, you can make a claim to Employment and Support Allowance Contribution online at https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance or call 0800 328 5644 or Jobseekers Allowance Contribution online https://www.gov.uk/jobseekers-allowance/how-to-claim or call 0800 055 6688. The 7 waiting days for Employment and Support Allowance for new claimants suffering from coronavirus or required to self-isolate will not apply, so it will be payable from day one.

Q: I work a 0 hour contract. If I self- isolate will I get SSP?

A: People on zero-hour contracts may be eligible for SSP. It will depend on how many hours you have worked regularly and the income received, but in the first instance contact your employer directly to find out if you are entitled.

Q: I am on partial housing benefit due to my earnings, but my income has reduced/stopped. How do I make up the difference to pay my rent?

A: Contact your local authority benefit team and advise them of your change in circumstances. If you are unable to do this your local authority should have a change of circumstances online form which you can complete. Your entitlement to housing benefit will then be amended to reflect your change in income. If your income reduces, your entitlement to housing benefit will usually increase.

Q: I am currently on Universal Credit and my income has reduced/stopped. How will Universal Credit know?

A: Let Universal Credit know by inputting a note on your online journal, detailing how and when your circumstances changed, and your Universal Credit award should be adjusted accordingly. You can ask for a further advance until your Universal Credit is adjusted but remember any advances will be recovered by deductions from your ongoing Universal Credit award.

Q: I am in receipt of Personal Independence Payment or Employment and Support Allowance and I completed a review form recently. Will I be called in for a face to face medical assessment?

A: The Department for Work and Pensions has taken the precautionary decision to temporarily suspend all face-to-face assessments for health and disability-related benefits. This is aimed at reducing the risk of exposure to coronavirus and safeguarding the health of individuals claiming health and disability benefits, many of whom are likely to be at greater risk due to their pre-existing health conditions. 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.

Q: I feel like my situation is critical, I have no one to assist and I don’t know where to turn for help.

A: Contact us on 0800 6781228 and request a referral to a local advice service. One of our advisers will contact you as quickly as possible to discuss your situation and provide you with any necessary advice or available assistance.

Useful Advice and Links

If you are worried about the short-term impact of COVID-19 on your employment then you can contact the PACE helpline on 0800 917 8000.

Our on line benefits calculator is up to date with all the latest Coronavirus benefit changes. Give it a try to see what you are entitled to.

More detailed advice can also be found on the following three key websites: 

https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/coronavirus-what-it-means-for-you

https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-support-for-employees-benefitclaimants-and-businesses