We know this is an unsettling time for many of us and we’re here to help as much as we can. If you need any advice about claiming benefits or where you stand if your earnings have stopped, please contact the Advice Team at Southway.

The best way to do this is email adviceteamreferrals@southwayhousing.co.uk leaving details about your situation, contact details, and whether you would prefer an email or call. The team will get in touch with you as soon as possible and you won’t have to wait in the phone queue or use your credit.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) is causing significant disruption across the country and this is likely to continue for some time. In response to this, the Government has made several changes to the welfare benefits system to help people cope with a reduced or loss of income.

As part of the 2020 budget, the Government announced measures to speed up access to some benefits for those affected by Coronavirus. They are also providing additional funds to local authorities.

Here is the latest information to help you maximise your income through this uncertain time.  

If you are sick or advised to self-isolate

Temporary Benefit Regulations have been brought in to ease the conditions for Work Capability for Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit for a period of 8 months, starting 13th March 2020:

  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

    SSP is paid by your employer if your earnings are at least £118 per week (£120 per week from April 2020). SSP is paid at a flat rate of £94.25 per week (£95.25 per week from April 2020), though your employer may increase this rate depending on your employment contract with them.

    If this isn’t enough to meet your living costs, you can claim Universal Credit to top up your income as it may pay towards your Housing costs (i.e. your rent).

    If you are currently receiving some Housing Benefit, you need to notify Manchester City Council Revenues and Benefits of the change in your income so they can review your award.

    You need to be aware that if you claim Universal Credit your claim to Housing Benefit will end, as well as any claims you have made for Tax credits. Universal Credit will replace all of these. 

    In most cases, SSP has three waiting days, so payment starts from the fourth day of absence. The Government has announced, however, that SSP will now be paid from day one for those affected by Coronavirus. Presently, no legislation has been passed to authorise this. 

    After seven days’ absence, your employer will expect you to provide a medical certificate regarding your condition (also referred to as a ‘fit note’).

    To continue to receive SSP, you must be deemed as incapable of work. This could mean that you have an infection, disease or combination of the two and your doctor has stated you should not work, even as a precaution. 

    The Government has now extended these qualifying factors to cover those who are not ill but have been advised to self-isolate, by either their doctor or employer, in line with government guidance. 

    If you have been advised to self-isolate, you will be able to obtain a fit note by contacting 111 rather than visiting your GP.

  • New Style Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and New Style Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)

    You will only be entitled to claim these benefits if you have paid enough National Insurance Contributions in the previous 3 tax years. 

    There is a seven-day waiting period but this has been lifted for ESA claims if you are infected, in isolation or caring for a child.

  • Self Employed

    If you are self-employed you can claim ESA, if you have a disability or are unable to work due to a health condition, including the Coronavirus.

    Normally, ESA is not paid for the first 7 days after your claim is accepted. However, new regulations have been put in place in which you will receive payment on the first day of your claim if you are infected, self- isolating or caring for a child. For the first 13 weeks of your claim, you need to be unable to carry out your current job.

  • The minimum income floor: Self-Employed UC claimants

    If you are self-employed and have been claiming UC for a certain period (usually 12 months), your award is calculated as if you were earning the national minimum wage for the number of hours you are supposed to work, even if your income is lower. This is the ‘minimum income floor’. 

    If you are treated as having limited capability for work under the new regulations for Coronavirus, the minimum income floor will not be applied on your first assessment when you return to work.

  • Claiming Universal Credit

    If you have a low income, including existing claims for JSA or ESA, you can claim Universal Credit to increase your income and to help pay your rent and living expenses.

    If you are infected with Coronavirus, in isolation or caring for a child who is infected or in isolation, you are regarded as having limited capability for work under the temporary regulations.

  • Backdating UC

    Your claim to UC can be backdated for up to one month. If you delayed making a claim because of an illness, you will need to provide medical evidence of this. If you are making a joint claim, you must prove that both you and your partner were unable to claim any earlier than you did.

    You should make a claim as soon as you can. If you are already in receipt of UC or Housing Benefit, you will receive a backdated payment in full if you report your change of circumstances within one month.

  • Face to face meeting for benefit claims

    Before most UC claimants can receive their first payment, they must attend a face to face assessment meeting to validate their identity. The Government has now promised to allow people who have been advised to self-isolate to access UC and advanced payments without having to attend the Job Centre. 

    For ESA claimants who have to book an appointment at the Job Centre, no announcements have been made as of yet.

  • Sanctions

    Claimants advised to self-isolate will not be sanctioned if they contact the DWP before the appointment that they are unable to attend. You can do this by contacting your work coach.

  • Council Tax Support

    As of 24th March 2020, the Government has confirmed that a £500 million Hardship Fund for local authorities will be used to provide some relief to households struggling to pay council tax due to the Coronavirus.

    The Hardship Fund will support those in receipt of Local Council Tax Support by reducing their liability for council tax for 2020 - 2021.

    If you are in receipt of Council Tax Support, or you are struggling to pay your council tax as a result of Covid-19, you should contact Manchester City Council as soon as possible.

  • Self-employment Income Support Scheme

    On 26th March, the Government announced that funding is available to support self-employed people whose income has lowered or stopped due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

    The Self-employment Income Support Scheme will provide claimants with a taxable grant worth 80% of their trading profits, up to £2,500 per month for the next three months. If necessary, the scheme will be extended.

    If you are registered as self-employed, HMRC will contact you directly and invite you to apply to the scheme online. Currently, you cannot apply without being contacted by HMRC beforehand.

    For more information on the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, visit Gov.uk

Contact us

If you need any advice about claiming benefits or where you stand if your earnings have stopped, please contact the Advice Team. We’re here to help as much as we can.