COVID-19 Benefits Advice

If you have been affected by COVID-19, whether it is through infection, self-isolation or social distancing requirements, below is advice on what to do if you were/are in work and/or self-employed. The latest information from the UK Government is available on the link below.

www.gov.uk - Coronavirus support for employees, benefit claimants and businesses

Please also see the link below for the latest Welsh Government advice:

https://gov.wales/work-skills-financial-support

https://gov.wales/get-financial-help-pay-your-bills-during-coronavirus-pandemic

Claim what's yours | GOV.WALES

For advice on the Discretionary Assistance Fund, please go to:

https://gov.wales/discretionary-assistance-fund-daf

Relaxation of Discretionary Assistance Fund rules extended

For the first 7 days of sickness employees can self-certify. After this period of time you usually have to provide a fit note from your GP. If you are displaying symptoms of Coronavirus and those who or have been told to self-isolate because of this disease a self-isolation note can be obtained.

Employers are asked to use discretion on the evidence they require.

Those who choose to self-isolate in case they come in to contact with the virus would not be considered sick. It would be good practice for employers to facilitate homeworking for these people.

You must be an employee to qualify for Statutory Sick Pay, you do not have to have a written contract of employment. SSP is paid for the first 28 weeks of sickness or until your contract of employment ends; claimants will then have to claim a sickness benefit.

Two or more periods of sickness that are separated by eight weeks or less are linked and treated as one single period.

Your employer cannot dismiss you from employment to avoid paying you SSP but dismissal on grounds of sickness is not necessarily illegal and employees needs to get advice from their union regarding possible unfair dismissal.

SSP is normally paid from the 4th day of your sickness. You will only be paid SSP for the first 3 days of your sickness if the period you were away from work because of Coronovirus started before 25th March 2022.

Further information is available on:

www.gov.uk - COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses

If you are receiving tax credits and there are any changes to your circumstances, you should contact HMRC within 1 month of the date of the change. You may qualify for the 4 week run on of Working Tax Credit. Further information is available on the link below:

https://www.gov.uk/changes-affect-tax-credits

Important: if there has been any change that means you are no longer claiming as a couple and need to make a claim as a single person or become part of a couple - this always means you have to make a new Tax Credit claim, which means you will usually need to claim Universal Credit.

https://www.gov.uk/how-tax-credits-affect-other-benefits

Changes in Earnings

A change of your earnings is not a change of circumstances that you have to report; however by reporting this change you are reducing the risk of being over or underpaid when they finalise your award at the end of the financial year. The first £2,500 of any increase or decrease in your earnings are disregarded and will therefore not affect your tax credit payments. If you have had a change to your earnings and want your tax credits recalculated you can contact them online:

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/tax-credits-enquiries

Childcare costs within Working Tax Credit

To qualify for help with childcare costs you must be entitled to Working Tax Credit and your child must be in approved childcare. You can continue to receive the childcare element within Working Tax Credit if you stop paying for childcare costs for less than 4 weeks; after 4 weeks any change of £10 in charges needs to be reported. If you are still paying for childcare, but your child is no longer attending due to the necessity to stay at home, HMRC have said that these costs will be covered. We are awaiting further guidance.

If you are already in receipt of Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction and your income (it decreases or increases) or circumstances have changed it is important that you tell us as soon as possible. We will reassess your entitlement to this benefit and this will prevent any underpayment or overpayment. This applies whether you are employed or self-employed.

Please email us at revenues@ceredigion.gov.uk or visit our Benefits page for more information.

You are required to report any changes to your income and should write all changes on your journal and keep the Department for Work and Pensions informed of your situation.

Department for Work & Pensions - Employment and benefits support

 

If you have not yet made a claim for any benefits then listed below are the options available to you.

New-style Employment and Support Allowance

If you are claiming benefit for the first time because you are sick, you will be treated as having limited capability for work and may be able to claim New-style Employment and Support. This means that you will not have to provide fit notes nor have to attend a work capability assessment.

To qualify for this benefit you must have met the national insurance contribution conditions and not be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay. This benefit can be paid after SSP even if you still have a contract of employment. This is a contributory benefit, and entitlement depends on your circumstances as the claimant. There are no capital or income rules except any occupational pension over £85.00 per week that is paid to you as the claimant can affect the amount you receive. Claimants may also qualify for Universal Credit to top up this benefit.

Further information is available at www.gov.uk - New Style Employment and Support Allowance.

Jobseekers Allowance

This benefit is made up of two elements 'New Style' Jobseekers Allowance and Income Related Jobseekers Allowance.

If your hours of work have reduced or you have been made redundant you may be able to qualify for 'new style jobseekers allowance'. To qualify you must meet the relevant national insurance contributions conditions. This is a contributory benefit, so entitlement depends on your circumstances. As it is not means tested, it doesn't matter about the income of your partner if you have one. Income that is taken into account is any earnings you receive for part time work (under 16 hours), less the relevant earnings disregards (usually £5) and occupational pensions of more than £50.00. Most other income is disregarded providing you continue to meet the basic conditions. New-Style Jobseekers Allowance is paid for a maximum amount of six months. Universal Credit is the means tested benefit that can top up any contributory JSA.

If you are receiving Income Related Jobseekers Allowance it either means that you are unable to claim Universal Credit because you meet the SDP gateway conditions or you have been claiming this benefit prior to full roll out of Universal Credit. Entitlement will continue providing you still meet the criteria or until you are managed migrated over to Universal Credit.

If you become sick whilst claiming Jobseekers Allowance you can continue to claim this benefit. The Job Centre can relax your work related requirements and treat you as available for work for up to two two-week periods of sickness in the last twelve months or up to 13 weeks, if you have been or expect to be unable to work for more than two weeks but not more than 13 weeks or you have already had your two two-week periods of sickness. Unfortunately to be treated as sick for Jobseekers Allowance you will require a fit note after seven days of self-certification. At the time of writing the Government has not changed the regulations like they have for Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance to relax this condition.

Universal Credit

If you do not have enough money to live on you may be advised to claim Universal Credit. A claim for Universal Credit will end entitlement to any of the other means tested benefits (Working Tax Credit; Child Tax Credit; Income Related Jobseekers Allowance; Income Related Employment and Support Allowance; Income Support, Housing Benefit) and. you will not be able to reclaim these benefits. You should get advice before you make a claim, especially if you are self-employed, a student or have savings of £16,000 or more.

Citizens Advice - Universal Credit

If you are receiving one of these benefits you are advised to have a better off calculation to check if you are better off staying on your current benefits with adjustments or claim Universal Credit.

Those needing to claim a means tested benefit (entitlement will depend on your capital, income of you and your partner) for the first time will now have to claim Universal Credit.

As soon as you submit a claim for Universal Credit any entitlement to legacy benefits ceases. You will not be able to re-claim Tax Credits, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income Related Jobseekers Allowance and Income Related Employment and Support Allowance even if you are not entitled to a payment of Universal Credit.  

Claims are made and managed online via a 'journal'.

https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/new-to-universal-credit/help-with-managing-your-money/

To qualify you must have less than £16,000 in capital and meet the means test. The means test will differ depending on your personal circumstances and what other income or earnings you have coming in and the amount of savings you have between £6,000 to £16,000. Claimants may qualify for this benefit if they are in work; not working; sick or have caring responsibilities.

Universal Credit can be the only income you have coming in or top up other income (e.g. statutory sick pay, new-style ESA) to the level that the Government says that you need to live on.

Statutory Sick Pay and other income is taken into account when calculating any entitlement to Universal Credit. For example, if you are single aged 25+ and have no dependent children and do not pay rent, at the time of writing it is our understanding that a work allowance will be applied within the calculation of Universal Credit, in this case, you could qualify for a payment of Universal Credit of up to £317.82 per month. You may qualify for more than this depending on your circumstances e.g. if you pay rent you are likely to get an additional amount to help with your rent payments.

All claimants, including your partner if you have one, must sign a claimant commitment, which will outline what work related requirements you have to undertake in order to receive this benefit. If you are claiming because Covid -19 or the requirement to self-isolate, your work related requirements for your claimant commitment will be work-focused interview and work preparation. The Department for Work and Pensions will tell you what to do.

Department for Work & Pensions - Employment and benefits support

If you are a couple and one of you is over state pension age and one of you is under state pension age in benefit terms this means you are a mixed aged couple - this means you are usually unable to claim Pension Credit and may need to claim Universal Credit - please seek advice first.

The Government have announced that once you have made a claim online, if they need any further information to process your claim, they will either request this via your online journal or call you.

Housing Benefit

No new claims (or re-claims) for legacy benefits, except Housing Benefit for some temporary or supported accommodation, can be made.

This is the only group of people who can now make a new claim for legacy benefits.  If you fall into this group you can make an application online:

http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/resident/benefits/application-forms/

Council Tax Reduction

Council Tax Reduction provides assistance to those who have a liability to pay council tax. It is means tested so it will depend on the income and capital of you and your partner; but it can be claimed whether you are in or out of work. This reduction is under claimed, so it is important that you check your entitlement which you can do by visiting our Benefits page.

Support available to those who have been laid off, or hours or work have been reduced

www.gov.uk - Lay-offs and short-time working

Childcare costs

If you become liable to pay childcare costs for the first time you may be able to receive some financial support via Tax Credits. If you are already receiving Child Tax or Working Tax Credit; Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction you should notify the local authority of these changes.

If you are liable to pay childcare costs to your childcare provider and your child is no longer able to attend due to the necessity to stay at home, HMRC have confirmed that for tax credits these will still be paid.

You are advised to self-isolate for a minimum of 5 days if you have tested positive for COVID 19.

If you self-isolating and are unable to work from home then financial support is available through two new schemes introduced by the Welsh Government.

Statutory Sick Pay Enhancement Scheme for Care Workers

This provides funding for care workers who only get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they have to self-isolate or do not get SSP at all. The funding allows your employer to pay you at your normal full pay for the duration of self-isolation.

Please follow the link (COVID-19 statutory sick pay enhancement scheme) for full details of this scheme which runs to 30 June 2022.

Self-Isolation Support Payment Scheme

A £500 fixed payment will be available to people on a low income who are unable to work from home and as a consequence will suffer a loss of income. 

This payment will also be available to parents or carers who have to stay at home as their child has been told to isolate by NHS Wales Test, Trace, protect service (TTP) as they have tested positive for COVID 19.

This Scheme is now closed and no further applications are being accepted. If you have applied before 01/08/2022 then this will be processed in due course.

Personal Independence Payment

Attendance Allowance

Disability Living Allowance

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

These benefits are for people with a long term illness and/or disabilities. To qualify you must have had or expect to have the condition for a 'qualifying' period and/or for a future period. These change depending on the disability benefit. Which disability benefit you claim will depend on a number of factors. They can be claimed if you are in work and/ or in receipt of other benefits.

The General Register Office have confirmed that Child Benefit can be applied for without a birth certificate and verification will need to be provided once the birth of a child has been registered. This should enable other means tested benefits, such as Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit to include child dependent increases, unless the new-born is a third or subsequent child in which case the two child rule will apply unless they are exempt.

However if you wish to register the birth of a child you can now request a face to face appointment with Ceredigion Council by using the link below:

http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/resident/births-deaths-marriages-civil-partnerships/

The Statutory sick pay enhancement scheme supports care workers who only get statutory sick pay (SSP) when absent or are not eligible for SSP.

It provides funding to allow employers to pay eligible workers at full pay if they can’t work due to COVID-19.  

This removes the financial disadvantage to care workers of staying away from work. This will help to protect our most vulnerable citizens.  The purpose of the fund is infection control.

The scheme runs to 30 June 2022.

For further information regarding eligibility and how to access the scheme please visit the Carer Workers Statutory Sick Pay Enhancement Scheme page.