CORONA VIRUS BENEFITS - London Borough of ...

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CORONA VIRUS BENEFITS - London Borough of ...
Winter Edition 2020

Welfare Benefits Team
In this edition
we cover
Help and advice
Test and Trace self-
isolation payment
Support for workers
who are sick, self-
isolating or furloughed
Support for self-
employed people
Benefits Information
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
Employment and
Support Allowance
(ESA) and Jobseekers
Allowance (JSA)
Disability Benefits and
Child Benefit
Universal Credit
Tax Credit and Pension
                            Welcome to the Welfare Benefits Team corona virus and benefits factsheet. We
Housing Benefit and         have reviewed the changes to existing benefits and the implementation of new
Council Tax                 benefits, as a result of new legislation laid down by the government in response to
Benefit appeals and         the COVID-19 pandemic.
tribunals; free school      We have tried to ensure this information is correct at the time of writing
meals                       (November 2020). Please contact us for further updates:
Fuel, debt recovery
New employment              HELP AND ADVICE
support                     Council tenants can call our advice line for help and advice on 020 8753 5566
Support and advice

Whilst every effort
                            Debt advice
has been made to            The welfare benefits team offers personal   Crosslight and London Credit Union. These
provide accurate            budgeting support for all tenants who       organisations also offer free, independent
information, this           want to get on top of their finances and    advice to people who are experiencing
factsheet is for guidance   gain control of their money. Call our       difficulties:
only and should not         advice line for an appointment. We can      Crosslight:
be considered an            also refer to our partner organisations,    Credit Union:
authoritative statement
of the law.                  For further information contact:
CORONA VIRUS BENEFITS - London Borough of ...
2 | Welfare Benefits Team Factsheet Winter Edition 2020

Access to jobcentres is limited, with
members of the public only admitted
if they are invited or directed to do so
with a booked appointment. DWP’s
Visiting Service has suspended all
routine face-to-face home visits but
will be prioritising visits for customers       Support for workers, unfit for        • and be currently receiving
who are most vulnerable, after a risk       work, self-isolating, unemployed,            Universal Credit, Working Tax
assessment in each case.                    furloughed, made redundant                   Credit, income-based
 Don’t call us we’ll call you               and £500 test and trace support           • Employment and Support
                                            payment                                      Allowance, income-based
 People making new claims for                   To be eligible for a test and trace
 Universal Credit no longer need                                                         Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income
                                            support payment you must have                Support, Housing Benefit and/or
 to call the DWP as part of the             been asked to self-isolate by NHS
 process. Instead DWP staff will call                                                    Pension Credit.
                                            test and trace either because you
 claimants if they need to check any        have:                                        It is administered by
 of the information provided as part                                                  Hammersmith and Fulham Benefits
                                            • tested positive for coronavirus
 of the claim, as well as messaging                                                   dept. and only applies to those
                                                or have recently been in close
 them on their online journal to                                                      who test positive, or are a traced
                                                contact with someone who has
 confirm details.                                                                     contact, on or after 28 September.
                                                tested positive;
 Government Gateway account to                                                        For more information, see Public
                                            • be employed or self-employed;           Health England guidance - Stay at
 confirm their identity.
                                            • be unable to work from home             home guidance for households with
 Anyone who is unable to get online             and will lose income as a result;     possible or confirmed coronavirus
 can still call the DWP as normal.                                                    (COVID-19) infection.

The Job Retention Scheme
The Coronavirus Job Retention               and the employee’s salary or not.         furloughed employees back part-
Scheme went live on Monday                     Wages under the scheme were            time.
20 April 2020.                              backdated to 1 March and the              NB - to enable the introduction of
    If an employer was unable to            scheme was open until 31 October          part-time furloughing, and support
cover staff costs due to COVID-19,          2020.                                     those staff already furloughed to
financial support was made available                                                  return back to work, claims from
from the government, to reduce the           From          employers had to           July onwards were restricted to
risk of redundancies.                        August        take on responsibility     employers already using the scheme
    If an employer accessed the              2020          for the payment            and employees furloughed by
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme,                          of employer                June 10th (except those returning
they had to classify one or more                           national insurance         from maternity or paternity leave).
of their employees as ‘furloughed                          and pension                In the case of part-time working,
workers’. This meant the workers                           contributions,             the furlough payment is made in
were kept on the payroll and                               whether furloughed         respect of hours not worked, and the
could not undertake work for that                          or not;                    monthly cap will be proportional to
employer.                                    From          the government have        hours not worked.
    Employees to be furloughed had           September     only paid 70 per cent          The government paid employees’
to be employed and on the PAYE               2020          of wages, up to a cap      wages through the scheme if a
payroll and received wages by 19                           of £2,187.50;              business was forced to temporarily
March 2020.                                                                           close because of the COVID-19
    The employer could contact HM            during        the government will        outbreak.
Revenues and Customs (HMRC) to               October       pay 60 per cent of             Where an employee has been
claim a grant of up to 80% of the            2020          wages up to a cap of       furloughed, they are permitted
employee’s wages and staff costs,                          £1,875.                    to work for another employer, if
up to a maximum of £2,500 per                                                         contractually allowed, and this will
month per employee. The employer               To ease the transition to the          not affect the grant that they can
could choose to use this scheme and         scheme then being brought to an           claim under the Scheme.
also choose whether to fund the             end, from 1 July 2020, employers
difference between this payment             were given the flexibility to bring

 For further information contact:
CORONA VIRUS BENEFITS - London Borough of ...
Welfare Benefits Team Factsheet Winter Edition 2020 | 3

The bonus will see businesses
receive a one-off payment of £1,000
for every previously furloughed
employee if they are still employed
at the end of January 2021. A policy
statement published by the HMRC
gives employers further details on
eligibility requirements and how they
can claim the bonus.

                                        The self-employed income
Job Entry                               support scheme (SEISS)
Targetted                               On 26 March 2020, the Government
                                        announced a scheme to support
                                                                                     the scheme, or would be except
                                                                                     for COVID-19
Support                                 self-employed people affected by
                                        the COVID-19 outbreak. This scheme
                                                                                 • intend to continue to trade in the
                                                                                     tax year 2020-21 and have lost
(JETS)                                  allowed self-employed people to
                                        claim a taxable grant worth 80%
                                        of their trading profits up to a
                                                                                     trading/partnership trading profits
                                                                                     due to COVID-19
New employment programme to                                                          The applicant’s self-employed
                                        maximum of £2,500 per month for 3        trading profits must also be less
support those left jobless due to       months.
COVID-19                                                                         than £50,000 and more than half
                                            A self-employed individual or        of their income must come from self-
    Job Entry Targeted Support          a member of a partnership could
(JETS) will target certain universal                                             employment.
                                        apply if they:                               Self-employed parents, whose
credit and JSA claimants who have       • have submitted an income tax
been out of work for at least 13                                                 trading profits dipped in 2018/19
                                            self-assessment tax return for the   because they took time out to have
weeks. JETS will provide intensive          tax year 2018-19
employment support to universal                                                  children, could claim for a payment
credit claimants in the ‘All Work-      • traded in the tax year 2019-20         under the self-employed income
related Requirements’ group and         • are trading when they apply to         support scheme (SEISS).
New Style JSA claimants who have
been unemployed for at least 13
                                         The original Self-Employment Income
                                         Support Scheme has been replaced
                                         The second and final stage of the Scheme has now closed. Those eligible
                                         were able to receive a grant worth 70% of their average monthly trading
                                         profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months’ worth of profits,
                                         and capped at £6,570 in total. HMRC has published guidance on deciding
                                         if a businesses has been adversely affected by coronavirus. The claim for
                                         the second and final grant had to have been made on or before 19 October

                                               For further information contact:
CORONA VIRUS BENEFITS - London Borough of ...
4 | Welfare Benefits Team Factsheet Winter Edition 2020

scheme for
people from
1 November
The SEISS Grant Extension offers
support from November 2020
to April 2021 for self-employed
individuals who were previously
eligible for the original SEISS.
• The extension provides two
    additional grants, each covering a
    three-month period.
• The first grant will cover the
    period from 1 November 2020
    to 31 January 2021 and will
    be based on 40% of average             • They declare that they are
    monthly trading profits, capped            impacted by reduced demand             Entitled To benefits calculator also
    at £3,750.                                 due to coronavirus in the              enables people to see how any SEISS
• The second grant will cover the              qualifying period. The ‘qualifying     grant will affect future UC payments
    period from 1 February 2021 to             period’ for the first grant under      as well, due to something called the
    30 April 2021. The government              the extended scheme is from 1          ‘surplus earnings rule’. This applies
    will set the level of this grant and       November 2020 to the date of           where a universal credit claimant
    provide details in due course.             the claim.It is anticipated that       has an increase in their earned
                                               ‘reduced demand’ will be defined       income that takes them outside of
• The grants are subject to Income             more narrowly than the ‘adversely      entitlement to universal credit by
    Tax and National Insurance.                affected’ requirement of the initial   more than £2,500. Earnings above
Self-employed individuals are eligible         SEISS grants.                          this level can reduce subsequent
for the grant extension if:                    More details are expected soon.        entitlement, not just in the month it
• They were previously eligible for        As this is an extension and not an         is received.
    the SEISS. But applicants for the      entirely new scheme, it is anticipated         The DWP have confirmed that
    grant extension do not need to         that some of the qualifying                anyone getting a payment from the
    have claimed the previous grants       conditions for the initial SEISS grants    Bounce Back Loan Scheme will have
    under the SEISS.                       will continue to apply.                    that loan treated as a business asset
• They declare that they are                   Self-employed people, whose            so it will not affect any means-tested
    currently actively trading and         capital and current income is low          benefits as either income or personal
    intend to continue to trade. This      enough, may also be able to claim          capital.
    means that businesses which have       Universal Credit and/or a Council              Self-employed people who are
    closed during lockdown will need       Tax Reduction whilst waiting for           sick or self-isolating may be able to
    to resume trading if they wish to      payment and won’t have to repay            claim new style employment and
    make claims under the extended         any of the benefit received when           support allowance, universal credit
    scheme.                                SEISS payments are received. The           and a council tax reduction.

 New HMRC                                                         People receiving
 helpline                                                         direct payments
 0800 024 1222                                                    New guidance has been
                                                                  published for people who
 This is for people who run                                       buy care and support
 businesses or are self-                                          through a direct payment
 employed and are affected                                        in order to know how and
 by the COVID-19 outbreak.                                        when they can use the CJRS
                                                                  to furlough employees.

 For further information contact:
CORONA VIRUS BENEFITS - London Borough of ...
Welfare Benefits Team Factsheet Winter Edition 2020 | 5

Welfare Benefits Information
The Government introduced a new Test and Trace Support Payment on 28 September.
• To be eligible for a Test and Trace            JSA, Income Support, Housing      will be able to make a backdated
  Support Payment, you must:                     Benefit or Pension Credit.        claim.
  - have been asked to self-            • There is some very limited             • On-line or telephone application
     isolate by NHS Test and Trace          discretion outside of eligibility      are required, giving details of:
     either because you’ve tested           criteria                               - a notification from NHS Test
     positive for coronavirus or have   • Payment is £500, as a lump sum,              and Trace with a Unique ID
     recently been in close contact         which is subject to income tax but         number;
     with someone who has tested            not                                    - a bank statement;
     positive;                          National Insurance contributions and       - proof of employment/self-
  - be employed or self-employed;       it will not count as income or savings         employment, which also
  - be unable to work from home         for benefit purposes                           confirms that they cannot
     and will lose income as a          • It is in effect from 28 September,           work from home whilst self-
     result;                                with local authorities expected            isolating.
  - and be currently receiving              to have systems in place by 12   
     Universal Credit, Working              October and the scheme will run            covid-19/help-residents-facing-
     Tax Credit, Income-based               until 31 January 2021.                     hardship-or-difficulties/self-
     Employment and Support             • Only individuals who tested                  isolation-support-payments
     Allowance, Income-related              positive on or after 28 September

                                               For further information contact:
CORONA VIRUS BENEFITS - London Borough of ...
6 | Welfare Benefits Team Factsheet Winter Edition 2020

Employees who are too ill to work,           A person is classed as self-                reintroduced, either in the case of
or who are following government          isolating if they:                              local lockdowns or nationally, and
guidance to self-isolate, may be         • have symptoms of COVID-19 and                 individuals receive a notification
eligible for SSP from their employer,        have used the NHS111 online                 advising them to shield, they will
unless the employer has a more               service and they have been told             be eligible to receive SSP again if
generous scheme in place. The                by a healthcare professional they           they meet all eligibility criteria.
amount is £95.85 pw. from April              have symptoms of COVID-19 or                Guidance (updated 15 October)
2020, but the employer may top this          they live with someone who has          now states that people in England
up with contractual sick pay. SSP can        symptoms of COVID-19 and the            should shield (and can claim SSP or
be paid for up to 28 weeks.                  above applies                           Employment and Support Allowance
An employee on SSP may also top          • A person who has been notified            on those grounds) if they have
up their income by claiming universal        that they have had contact              received a letter from their doctor or
credit.                                      with a person with coronavirus          health authority because:
    Statutory Sick SSP over the              (COVID-19) is also eligible if they     • they are in an area with local
qualifying period must be £120               are self-isolating, for 14 days             restrictions that include advice
per week or more to qualify.                 from the latest date on which               to shield; and they need to
Someone can still qualify if they only       that contact occurred, or a date            shield because they are “clinically
recently started work and have not           specified in the latest notification.       extremely vulnerable” and are
received 8 weeks’ pay yet. To check                                                      at very high risk of severe illness
entitlement, visit           • Individuals who are clinically
                                             extremely vulnerable are no                 from coronavirus.
statutory-sick-pay                                                                       An employee does not have
    If an employee wishes to dispute         longer required to shield since 1
                                             August. This means those who            to provide a fit note for the first 7
a decision to refuse SSP, they should                                                days of sickness or self-isolation.
contact the Statutory Payments               are unable to work from home
                                             but can work on site should do          After 7 days, people with COVID-19
Disputes Team: 03000 560630.                                                         symptoms and people who are self-
    SSP is paid from the first day           so, providing the workplace is
                                             COVID-safe. Individuals will no         isolating can get an isolation note
a person is sick with COVID-19 or                                                    online at which they can send to
self-isolating. The 3 “waiting days”         longer be eligible for SSP on the
                                             basis of being clinically extremely     their employer.
are abolished but not for anyone
claiming SSP for any other reason.           vulnerable. If shielding guidance is

 For further information contact:
CORONA VIRUS BENEFITS - London Borough of ...
Welfare Benefits Team Factsheet Winter Edition 2020 | 7

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
For details see’s employment                                               supported by medical evidence. Any
and support allowance guidance.                                                   assessments for fitness for work will
Universal Credit claimants                                                        be done over the phone or by an
should now apply for New Style                                                    evidence review, not a face to face
Employment and Support Allowance                                                  interview.
online or by phone instead of                                                         For claims in existence prior to 10
through their online account.                                                     July 2020, medical evidence will be
    Workers, who are sick or self-                                                introduced gradually and DWP will
isolating, and whose earnings are                                                 be writing to all of those claimants
insufficient to qualify for SSP, may                                              advising the date from which they
be entitled to new style ESA, if                                                  are required to provide evidence.
they have paid sufficient national                                                    The New Style Employment
insurance contributions. Self-                                                    and Support Allowance detailed
employed people, who cannot claim                                                 guide on has been updated
SSP, may be due ESA instead.                                                      to include details of the evidence
    From 13 March 2020 until 12          • caring for a child or qualifying       customers will need to provide
November 2020, claimants ‘affected           young person who is a member         if they are claiming New Style
by COVID-19’ do not have to serve            of the person’s household and        Employment and Support Allowance
7 waiting days before they can be            who is in isolation or infected      because of coronavirus
paid ESA. The regulations state that         with coronavirus disease.                Reassessments of existing ESA
a person is affected by coronavirus          However, the requirement to          awards is soon to be re-introduced
disease (COVID-19) if they are:          provide medical evidence to support      by telephone, not face to face.
• infected or contaminated with          claims to Employment and Support         ESA claimants are encouraged to
    coronavirus disease or;              Allowance that was deferred is now       contact the Jobcentre if their health
• in isolation (because they have        being reintroduced on a phased           deteriorates and they believe they
    been advised to isolate by NHS       basis. All new claims received from      are entitled to the ESA support
    111 Online) or;                      10 July 2020 for ESA must now be         component.

New-style (or contributory)                                                        Child
Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)                                                        Benefit (CB)
and Universal Credit (UC) if                                                       If you did not claim CB in the
looking for work                                                                   past because you or your partner
                                                                                   earned over £50,000 and did not
From 30 March 2020, jobseekers           hours.” Claimant commitments              want to be taxed on it, you can
no longer had to look for work or        must be reasonable for the ‘new           revoke that decision if your income
be available to start work. JSA and      normal’, acknowledging the reality        has now fallen. Call 0300 200
UC claimants did not have any work       of a person’s local jobs market and       3100.
search requirements placed upon          personal circumstances to prepare             HMRC has announced that
them and were not required to be         them for getting back into work.          parents of new-borns can claim
able and willing to immediately              Claimants can now make an             child benefit without registering
take up paid work. However, since        appointment to see their work coach       the birth if General Register
1 July the DWP have reintroduced         if they can’t get the help they want      Offices are closed as a result of the
the requirement for claimants of         online or over the phone.                 coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
universal credit, new-style and legacy       JSA claimants can have up to          First-time parents will need to fill
jobseeker’s allowance to accept a        two, 2-week periods of sickness           in Child Benefit Claim form CH2
claimant commitment as part of any       and one, 13-week extended period          and send it to the Child Benefit
new claim. Claimant commitments          of sickness within any 12-month           Office and should add a note to
are a signed declaration regarding       period, before losing entitlement         the claim if they have been unable
the how the claimant is going            to JSA. From 30 March 2020, these         to register the birth because of
to carry out job seeking activity.       sickness periods do not include any       COVID-19. If people are already in
For existing claimants, DWP will         time when a claimant is infected          receipt of child benefit, they can
review and update their claimant         with COVID-19, in isolation, or           complete the form or add their
commitment as capacity allows,           caring for a child or qualifying young    new-born’s details over the phone
to “provide tailored support to          person who is a member of the             on 0300 200 3100.
help them find work or increase          claimant’s household.

                                                For further information contact:
CORONA VIRUS BENEFITS - London Borough of ...
8 | Welfare Benefits Team Factsheet Winter Edition 2020

 Allowance (CA)
 Carers retain their entitlement to
 CA during any temporary break in
 caring as a result of isolation due
 to infection or contamination with
 coronavirus, whether this applies
 to the carer or the person being
 cared for. This concession is due
 to end on 13 November 2020.
 The support can also be being
 provided by non-contact means
 e.g. phone or social media. Any
 payments received from the Job
 Support or SEIS schemes will be
 counted as earnings for carers
 allowance purposes.

Disability Living                        Universal Credit (UC)
Allowance,                               UC is a means-tested benefit that is
                                         replacing tax credits, housing benefit,
                                                                                   use) a phone or go online.
                                                                                       Watch this video about making a
Personal                                 income support, and the income-
                                         related versions of ESA and JSA. It
                                                                                       New out-of-work UC claimants
Independence                             has a savings limit (£16,000) and         will now be required to look for
Payment and                              people who live together as a couple
                                         have to claim and be assessed jointly,
                                                                                   work and could in theory therefore
                                                                                   be ‘sanctioned’. A sanction is a
Attendance                               on a month by month basis. It can         penalty, where benefit payment is
Allowance                                be paid on its own, or as a top-up to
                                         other benefits or earnings, including
                                                                                   suspended for a specified period
                                                                                   of time. Existing claimants will be
Personal independence payment (PIP)      furlough pay.                             asked to update their claimant
claimants now have up to 3 months            The families of NHS and               commitment once contacted by
to return their PIP2 claim form after    social care workers who die               the Job Centre. However, with
they have made their initial phone       from coronavirus, and receive             effect from 22 July 2020, anyone
call to start the claim.                 compensation under the NHS                transferring to Universal Credit from
Face-to-face assessments for all         and Social Care Coronavirus Life          income support or income-related
sickness and disability benefits         Assurance Scheme, will find that the      ESA and JSA will have two weeks
have been temporarily suspended.         £60,000 lump sum breaches capital         ’run-on’ of those legacy benefits,
Assessments for new claims will          limits rules for most benefits such as    and housing benefit, whilst waiting
either be paper-based or conducted       universal credit and housing benefit.     for their universal credit to start.
over the phone.                              Guardian article – UK families        This should reduce the need for an
    Almost all other reassessments       bereaved by Covid lose eligibility for    advance payment.
were postponed in April 2020 for at      welfare benefits.                             Self-employed claimants no
least 6 months. Reviews of existing          Workers, who are sick or self-        longer have to attend an interview
Attendance Allowance and DLA             isolating, and whose household            with a case manager at the start of
claims for those aged 65+ began          income and capital are low enough,        their claim to see whether they are
again on October.                        may qualify for UC. UC can also           ‘gainfully self-employed’.
    If a claim is being made for         be paid on top of the Job Support         Minimum Income Floor (MIF) is
someone terminally ill, the DWP has      Scheme, SEISS, SSP or new style           a notional level of self-employed
opened an e-mail facility to allow the   ESA, if their household income and        earnings used to calculate the UC
relevant form (DS1500), which is a       capital are low enough.                   award. It is used by DWP when
certificate from the GP or consultant,       Claiming UC can be done by            the actual net profit from self-
stating that the claimant has a          creating an on-line account at gov.       employment is lower than the MIF.
terminal illness and is not expected     uk or via the phone 0800 328 5644.        This has now been temporarily
to live for more than 6 months, is       The demand on the DWP is huge             removed, which means the
to be e-mailed to them, rather than      and delays are inevitable. Claimants      claimant’s actual self-employed
posted. The DS1500 will only be          are no longer required to attend          earnings are used in the calculation
accepted if it’s sent in from a          face-to-face meetings with work           of UC, even if they are low (or zero)
GOV.UK email address.                    coaches. Jobcentres remain open,          due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The
The DS1500 should be sent to the         but with a limited service, and will      MIF is due to be reintroduced in
following email address:                 continue to support people who do         March 2021              not have access to (or are unable to
 For further information contact:
CORONA VIRUS BENEFITS - London Borough of ...
Welfare Benefits Team Factsheet Winter Edition 2020 | 9

                                                                                  To get PC, the claimant has to be
                                                                                  over state pension age. If part of
                                                                                  a couple, they BOTH need to be
                                                                                  over pension age. If one of them is
                                                                                  under pension age, and they need
                                                                                  help with rent or to replace lost or
                                                                                  reduced earnings, they would need
                                                                                  to claim UC. Pension credit can now
                                                                                  be claimed on-line via

Working Tax Credit (WTC)
and Child Tax Credit (CTC)
No new claims can be made for                For 2020/21, HMRC will
tax credits. However, if a person is     automatically renew almost all tax
already getting CTC, and is working,     credits claims. Claimants will receive
they may be able to add WTC to it if     an auto renewal pack and will only
their income has fallen. This would      need to contact HMRC if their details
be as an alternative to claiming         differ from the pack. Some claimants
universal credit, and people should      will still be sent a reply-required
seek advice as to which is the best      renewal pack and will be expected
option for them.                         to complete it in the normal way.
    Workers already receiving WTC            Parents and carers in receipt of
can continue to receive it for 28        the childcare element of Working Tax
weeks, while they are off work           Credits who have continued to pay
and claiming SSP or new style ESA.       childcare fees despite their children
Workers already in receipt of WTC do     being unable to access childcare will
not have to report a drop in working     no longer get this help beyond 7
hours due to the COVID-19 outbreak       September.
but do have to report if they cease to       Working parents or carers who
be employed. A furloughed worker         are eligible for Tax-Free Childcare
is still employed. These regulations     or 30 hours free childcare but
(easements) for WTC customers will       have temporarily fallen below the
end when the Job Retention Scheme        minimum income requirement as a
ends in October, whether they have       result of the pandemic will continue
received payment through that            to receive financial support until 31
scheme or not. The claimant then         October 2020.
has 8 weeks to re-establish their            You can check your eligibility for
hours (as long as they don’t have a      Tax-Free Childcare or 30 hours free
permanent change in the meantime)        childcare in relation to coronavirus
and then if they don’t re-establish      (COVID-19) online. Parents and
their hours, they will get 4 weeks run   carers who are Working Tax Credits
on of Working Tax Credit before it       customers should check their
ends altogether.                         eligibility and updated guidance
    HMRC’s tax credits calculator was    relating to coronavirus online.
updated on 6 April 2020.

                                                For further information contact:
CORONA VIRUS BENEFITS - London Borough of ...
10 | Welfare Benefits Team Factsheet Winter Edition 2020

                                          Bereavement                              Council tax
                                          Social Fund funeral payments are         People may be able to get help
                                          available from the DWP, based on         with their council tax. Help with
                                          the income of the claimant. Apart        council tax is available either
                                          from the cost of a basic funeral,        through means-tested support or
                                          the previous £700 cap for the            various reductions, exemptions
                                          discretionary element has been           and discounts. People who have
                                          increased to £1,000 for all deaths on    claimed UC or other benefits
                                          or after April 8th. For more details     should make a simultaneous
                                          about this and the bereavement           application for support.
                                          support payment, see Coronavirus             A £500 million Fund is
                                          (COVID-19): help and support if          available to local authorities
                                          someone dies.                            across the UK, to provide council
                                                                                   tax relief to households affected
                                                                                   by COVID-19. This is called
Benefit cap                                                                        discretionary council tax support
                                                                                       To get help, worth £150 per
Some benefit claimants have a                                                      year, the applicant must be of
£20k a year (£23k in London)                                                       working age and getting means-
‘cap’ placed on the total                                                          tested council tax support.
amount of benefit income
they can receive. See
Benefit Caps and seek advice if
this applies to you. Also see Child                                               Benefit appeals
poverty action group mind the
gap briefing.                                                                     and tribunals
    Newly-unemployed claimants                                                    There are new processes in place for
have a 9 months grace period                                                      all benefit tribunals, as Her Majesty’s
before the benefit cap is applied if                                              Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS)
they have worked for the previous                                                 make their services coronavirus-
year. There are some exemptions to                                                compliant.
the cap if a member of the family is in                                               HMCTS will list all cases before a
receipt of PIP, DLA or Carers Allowance                                           triage panel or in some cases a single
and also if they are working.                                                     judge. If the appeal can be allowed,
                                                                                  then the panel will issue a decision.
                                                                                  The appellant can still apply for the
Housing                                                                           decision to be set aside if unhappy.
                                                                                  The matter would then be listed for
Benefit                                                                           a telephone hearing (see below) and
                                                                                  all options will be available to the
(HB)                                                                              next Tribunal, including disallowing
                                                                                  the appeal. Those appeals that the
No new HB claims can be made by                                                   triage panel feel unable to allow
people of a working age, unless                                                   on the papers will be listed for
they are being placed in temporary/                                               telephone hearings.
emergency accommodation –                                                             There will be no face-to-face
help with rent comes through UC           be due more benefit. This would         hearings during the current situation.
instead. However, if you are already      be as an alternative to claiming UC,    Where an appeal cannot be fairly
in receipt of HB and your income          and people should seek advice as to     and justly allowed ‘on the balance of
has fallen or stopped, you would          which is the best option for them.      probabilities on available evidence’,
                                                                                  judges are advised that they should
                                                                                  consider whether to:
Discretionary Housing                                                             • make directions to obtain further
Payments (DHP)                                                                        evidence (although obtaining GP
                                                                                      records or any other evidence is
The government has announced                 They should apply to their local         probably not an option during
an additional £40m in funding for         council housing benefit department.         this crisis); or
councils to spend on DHPs for people      Each council has its own online         • arrange a remote hearing when
who are struggling to pay their rent      application page. If the tenant is          a hearing needs to be held,
or other housing costs. To apply for a    turned down, they should seek               either online or by telephone or
DHP, a claimant must be receiving HB      advice from an independent advice           video, using the normal panel
or the housing costs element of UC.       agency.                                     composition where practicable.

 For further information contact:
Welfare Benefits Team Factsheet Winter Edition 2020 | 11

                               Help with fuel costs
The Government and energy                 provided information and advice for          Ofgem has warned, in an
suppliers have agreed to new              individuals and families struggling to   open letter to energy supply
emergency measures to help                pay their bills during the COVID-19      companies, that it will not tolerate
prepayment customers during the           outbreak e.g.;                           ‘sharp practice or aggressive debt
pandemic, including posting cards         • British Gas Coronavirus update         collection’ as energy firms began to
loaded with emergency credit to                                                    restart debt management activities
those who are self-isolating, adding      • EDF Coronavirus update                 from 1 July 2020.
discretionary credit to meters, and       • EON Coronavirus update                     All water companies are halting
allowing users to nominate someone        • Npower Coronavirus update.             debt collection visits and are not
to top up for them.                                                                applying for any new court orders
    Utility companies have also                                                    during the current crisis.

Free school meals
and Healthy Start
Under normal circumstances, schools are not
expected to provide free school meals to eligible
children who are not attending due to illness,
isolation or if the school is closed. However, recent
concessions have been made by the government
that seek to ensure that all children will have access
to free school meals during the Christmas and Easter
holidays, with a number of further provisions being
made to provide support.
    Healthy Start vouchers, worth up to £6.20
per child, are available to pregnant women and
families who have a low income and have a child
under 4. See to get more
information about who qualifies and how to apply.

                                                  For further information contact:
12 | Welfare Benefits Team Factsheet Winter Edition 2020

 Advice to People
 Struggling with
 Essential Bills
 A news story on GOV.UK
 highlights and provides
 advice for those in difficulty
 with energy, water or
 telecommunications bills,
 or repayment commitments
 on credit cards, loans and
 mortgages, as a result of
 COVID-19. Contact our
 team for further advice and

Benefit debt
DWP stopped recovery action
associated with benefit
overpayments, tax credits debt, and
social fund loans, but NOT advance
payments of UC in March 2020.
Recovery action was reinstated
on 6 July.

New employment schemes
• Businesses will be given £2,000 for each new                Department of
  apprentice they hire under the age of 25. This is
  in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the              Work and Pensions
  Government already provides for new 16-18-year-
  old apprentices and those aged under 25 with an
  Education, Health and Care Plan.                            Coronavirus (COVID-19):
• A Job Retention Bonus Scheme - a one-off £1,000             • What to do if you’re already getting benefits
  payment to employers for each furloughed employee
  that remains continuously employed until 31 January         • What to do if you’re self-employed and getting
  2021.                                                         less work or no work
• £150m increase to the local DWP flexible support fund       • What to do if you were employed and have lost
  to address claimants’ specific barriers preventing them       your job
  from returning to work or provide training e.g. funding     • What to do if you’re employed and cannot
  travel to interview costs, equipment or clothing to start     work.
  employment or paying for replacement adult or child
  care to enable someone to undertake training, attend
  interviews or start work.                                   Further help and advice
• A Kickstart Scheme to provide 6 month placements            Department of Work and Pensions
  from Autumn this year. Funding available for each job       Universal credit helpline:
  placement will cover 100% of the National Minimum           0345 600 0723
  Wage for 25 hours a week – and employers will be
  able to top up this wage. The scheme will be focused        Online information:
  on supporting young people who are on Universal             •
  Credit and at risk of long term unemployment.               •
                                                                                                                 391.27. 2020.

 For further information contact:
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