Advice and help about benefits and money


In this difficult time, there's support available immediately for all who need it, we appreciate many of you will find yourself suffering unprecedented financial hardship as a direct result of the ongoing coronavirus.

If you are in employment

Many employees will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they fall ill. Recent changes have been made to make this payable from the first day of illness.

The government has advised people who aren't entitled to SSP, including those who are self-employed, to claim Universal Credit (UC) or contributory ‘New Style’ Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

Depending on your circumstances you may be able to claim other means tested benefits. Use an independent benefits calculator to find out what you can claim.

Landlord and tenants

Read the guidance on how the current situation is effecting eviction procedures and health & safety standards in rented dwellings.

If you are a tenant experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19, and are having difficulty paying your rent the government has put in measures ensure you do not face the threat of eviction for at least 3 months:

  • landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least 3 months period. This applies to both private and social renters
  • all new evictions are suspended, and no new possession proceedings will be permitted during the period of national emergency.
  • at the end of this period or the of the national emergency, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances
  • In the meantime, if you are able to pay your rent you should continue to do so
  • If you are not able to pay your rent please let your landlord know so you can work out a plan and so that they can speak to their bank if they need to (banks have put in place measures to support those with mortgage during this period of uncertainty

Electrical Safety

From 1st July 2020 landlords must provide the electrical installation condition report (carried out within the previous five years) for the property for any new prospective tenant.

From 1st April 2021 landlords must have provided existing tenants with a copy of the report. If the report requires further action this must be completed within 28 days. If the Council asks for a copy of the report it must be provided within 7 days. Failure to comply with the regulations could lead to further action and a fine of up to £30,000.

More information on electrical installation condition reports (EICR) and to find a competent person.

Read the full regulations on the legislation.

Energy bills

Any energy customer in financial distress will be supported by their supplier, which could include debt repayments and bill payments being reassessed, reduced or paused where necessary, while disconnection of credit meters will be completely suspended.

Customers that are unable to top up their pre-payment meter are advised to contact their supplier immediately to discuss how they can be kept on supply.

General support

The Money Advice Service have up to date information and guidance:

ACAS have up to date advice for employers and employees.

Local advice and support

If you're struggling to pay your Council Tax bill, you may be eligible for Council Tax Support

If you're already in receipt of Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support, tell us about your change in circumstances so we can check your claim. You can also apply for extra help with your Council Tax by applying for Discretionary Council Tax Reduction

If you're struggling to pay your rent and aren't already receiving Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, you should apply for Universal Credit for support with housing cost

If you're in receipt of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing costs, you can also apply for extra help with your rent by claiming Discretionary Housing Payments

Additionally, there are a range of advice and support services across the city, with more information available.

Council Tax

If you have been financially affected by the Coronavirus and are unable to make your Council Tax payments, please contact our Council Tax team on 01622 602003 or email us where we will try to help you.

FAQ

I can't pay my mortgage, what do I do? 

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Contact your local bank or check to see if they have contacted you.  Most banks are offering a payment break of 3 months.

The DWP may be able to provide help with this.

If you’re a homeowner, you might be able to get help towards interest payments on:

  • your mortgage
  • loans you’ve taken out for certain repairs and improvements to your home

This help is called Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI). It’s paid as a loan, which you’ll need to repay with interest when you sell or transfer ownership of your home.

You usually need to be getting, or treated as getting, a qualifying benefit to get SMI.

How to apply?

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When you apply for a qualifying benefit, you’ll be asked extra questions about your housing costs to find out if you’re eligible for Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI). You might also be sent a form asking for more detailed information.

If you qualify for SMI, you’ll be offered a loan.

If you already get a qualifying benefit contact the office that pays your benefit to find out if you could get an SMI loan.

If you get or have applied for Income Support, income-based JSA or income-related ESA contact Jobcentre Plus on 0800 169 0310.

I am on a zero hours contract and have been laid off, what do I do?

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You may be eligible for Universal Credit to help with your living costs, apply for this using the link below

Apply online

You will have to apply as a couple if you and your partner live together but you do not need to be married.

You might also need to phone the Universal Credit helpline to book an interview with a work coach. You’ll be told if you need to do this after you apply.

Universal Credit Helpline: 0800 328 5644 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

I am self employed and am not earning enough to pay my bills

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You may be eligible for Universal Credit to help with your living costs; this includes help towards your rent, apply for this using the link below.

Apply online

You should claim for help with support with your Council Tax from the Council as you may be entitled to Council Tax Support.

For Universal credit you will have to apply as a couple if you and your partner live together but you do not need to be married. You might also need to phone the Universal Credit helpline to book an interview with a work coach. You’ll be told if you need to do this after you apply.

Universal Credit helpline Telephone: 0800 328 5644 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

The government has temporarily removed the Minimum Income Floor. If you are self employed and have low income levels your Universal Credit payment may be calculated using an assumed level of earnings, called a Minimum Income Floor. It’s based on what an employed person on minimum wage would expect to earn in similar circumstances.If you earn more than this, then your Universal Credit amount is based on your actual earnings.

The government has temporarily removed this minimum income floor and will calculate your Universal Credit based on your actual earnings.

I am off sick with corona virus - what are the rules?

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As part of the Government’s strategy to support people affected by this public health emergency, DWP is making a number of changes to its benefit processes to ensure people who need financial help have access to the benefit system.

Support for employees, benefits claimants and businesses

I have less income this month and cannot pay my rent?

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Whether your landlord is a private or social landlord, it is important that you keep in touch with them and let them know if you are going to miss a payment or not pay the full amount.

The DWP can help with rent costs and you should claim Universal Credit. This can include rent payments.

My landlord is going to evict me because I won’t be able to pay my rent this month?

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Whether your landlord is a private or social landlord, it is important that you keep in touch with them and let them know if you are going to miss a payment or not pay the full amount.

The DWP can help with rent costs and you should claim Universal Credit. This can include rent payments.

If legal action is being taken against you because you owe money, get free support and advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau

If you have been served an eviction warrant, or your home is about to be repossessed, call our homelessness prevention advisers.

Is there any financial help I can get with my Council Tax?

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If you need help to pay your council tax, whatever your age and circumstances, you should claim Council Tax Support.

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