As we are currently operating a restricted service, we ask that you please take your time to read through the guidance sections that apply to you before contacting us.

You may be concerned about how coronavirus will impact your income, family or travel plans.

We’ve prepared the table below to help you through while our face-to-face service is suspended.

This page is updated regularly, so please check back.

Disclaimer: Information on this page is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We will endeavour to provide the most accurate information possible, but during this period information is likely to change at short notice.

BEWARE – there is already evidence of an increase in scams – some include texts asking for bank details to arrange a mortgage holiday and requests to click links because packages couldn’t be delivered.

Work and benefits

Situation

1. If you are employed and you need to self-isolate

Action

If you are employed and meet certain conditions your employer should pay you Statutory sick pay.

Other benefits to consider

  • UC
  • CT Support

Check updates on waiting days in the ‘new claimant’ section below.

Situation

2. If you are employed and you need to self-isolate – but not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay

Action

If you are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay you may be entitled to other support

Bath Job Centre is advising that new claimants call the ESA helpline and make an application over the phone. ID will be validated by biometric questions 0800 328 5644 (it does say UC helpline when answered, but there is an option if you hold on)

Consider New Style ESA
Other benefits to consider

  • UC
  • CT support

Situation

3. If you are self-employed and you need to self-isolate 

Self-employed claimants on Universal Credit who are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus will not have a Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) applied for a period of time while affected. 

 

Action

Consider New Style ESA

Other benefits to consider

  • UC
  • CT support

Check updates on waiting days in the ‘new claimant’ section below.

VAT payments due between now and the end of June will be deferred. No VAT registered business will have to make a VAT payment, normally due with their VAT return, to HMRC in that period. Income tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021

 

Situation

4. If you are self-employed or working in a Partnership and lost income due to Coronavirus.

If you have not submitted your Income Tax Self-Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19, you must do this by 23 April 2020.

You do not have to stop working to claim this.

Action

The Government has announced the Self-employment Income Support Scheme.

You cannot make a claim until June 2020 so you may need to claim another benefit in the meantime, such as Universal Credit.

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme is not available to everyone, the conditions are:

  • have submitted your Income Tax Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19.
  • traded in the tax year 2019-20.
  • are trading when you apply, or would be except for COVID-19.
  • intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-21.
  • have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19.

Your self-employed trading profits must also be less than £50,000 and more than half of your income come from self-employment. This is determined by at least one of the following conditions being true:

  • having trading profits/partnership trading profits in 2018-19 of less than £50,000 and these profits constitute more than half of your total taxable income.
  • having average trading profits in 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 of less than £50,000 and these profits constitute more than half of your average taxable income in the same period.

If you started trading between 2016-19, HMRC will only use those years for which you filed a Self-Assessment tax return.

Situation

5. If you are told to not come to work by your employer (not through self-isolation)

Action

First check if you can do your work from home.

If this is not possible consider whether this comes under Lay-offs and short-time working

Other benefits to consider

  • UC
  • New Style JSA
  • CT support

The Government announced a scheme of Friday 20th whereby employers can apply for support to pay up to 80% of wages for people who are not able to work due to the virus. Please contact your employer to discuss this option if you have already been sent home because this pay protection can be backdated to 1st March

Situation

6. Will I need to transfer from Working Tax Credit to UC

Action

You have a month to tell Tax Credits about a change of circumstance, including

  • Hours go below eligibility limit (usually 30 or 16)
  • Childcare costs change or stop

May be able to make a new claim only if claiming severe disability premium or eligible in the last month otherwise will need to apply for UC if claim stops.

Consider a benefit check to see if they would be ‘better off’ on UC.

Remember once they are in UC there is no going back.

Situation

7. Your employer wants you to use holiday pay while you are off work

Action

Your employer has a right to tell people when they need to take annual leave, for example if they close the workplace.

Situation

8. If you need time off to look after someone, because they are self-isolating due to symptoms

Action

Anyone sharing accommodation with someone who has symptoms of Coronavirus should also be self-isolating.

Useful links

Refer to sections 1, 2 and 3 above

Situation

9. If you need time off to look after someone who is self-isolating (social distancing), but not because they have symptoms

For example, your children are sent home from school or you have an older relative

Action

Employees are entitled to reasonable time off work to help someone who depends on them.

No statutory right to be paid for this.

Check contract to see if there is any contractual carer’s leave.

Negotiate with your employer – see if they will pay you for the time off, possibly from annual leave.

Other benefits to consider

  • UC
  • CT support

Situation

10. If you don’t want to go to work because you are concerned about catching the virus.

Action

Employer should listen to the concerns and take any possible steps to help reduce risk.

Employer may be able to negotiate paid or unpaid leave.

Refusal to work could lead to disciplinary action.

Situation

11. You are worried because someone who is unwell has come to your workplace.

Action

You employer does not have to close the workplace but they must discuss this with Public Health England and do a risk assessment.

Situation

12. How to claim Universal Credit

Action

People receiving benefits do not have to attend jobcentre appointments for at least 3 months, starting from Thursday 19 March 2020.

People will continue to receive their benefits as normal, but all requirements to attend the jobcentre in person are suspended.

People can still make applications for benefits online if they are eligible.

Jobcentres remain open, and will continue to support people who are not able to use phones and online, including homeless people.

ID verification – should be able to do online.  If this is not working, first try Help to Claim.  They can often get people through verification 0800 1448 444.

If still stuck call DWP 0800 328 5644 option 1 and 1 again.  Can then book appt call to do verification over the phone.

Once you have verified your ID you will have access to your online journal and can request advance payment.

Useful links

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/universal-credit/

At the moment there is still a webchat facility for claimants on this link.

Situation

13. How to claim council tax support

Action

Eligibility, different schemes and application link and paper application form.

Travel 

Situation

If you are planning to travel outside the country

Action

Check the Foreign and Commonwealth office site for up to date information for each country.

Household and housing

Situation 

1. Can you still send your child to school?

 

What happens if your child’s school is closed?

Action

The government has issued specific information about school closures and what provision there is for Key Workers.

Please visit the Useful link for further details and to determine whether you are a Key Worker.

 

Situation

2. You are experiencing or are concerned about domestic abuse.

Action

During times of increased stress and money concerns (like Christmas) we often see an increase in contacts about domestic abuse. If someone is in immediate danger they should call the police. 

Useful links

Public site information https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/family/gender-violence/

 

Helplines from ASK

Situation 

3. Mortgage holidays

Action

Key points

  • Always speak to your lender – don’t assume you can take a payment holiday without getting authorisation first.  If it’s not authorised you could be charged late payments fees and additional interest. 
  • Your credit rating will not be affected if you take an authorised payment holiday.
  • Interest will still accrue on the balance, so your payments will increase slightly after the holiday,
  • This provision is intended for people who are affected by income drop relating to Coronavirus. Your agreement may allow you to have a payment holiday for other reasons so contact your lender if you want to discuss this
  • This is intended to be a short-term solution.  If you are having longer-term issues with affording your mortgage please get advice. 
  • Your lender is unlikely to agree to a mortgage holiday if you are already in arrears or have had a previous payment holiday, but please contact your lender so see what other options they can offer.

This provision has now been extended to landlords who have Buy to Let mortgage

Situation

4. Rent arrears

Action

Key points

  • No new possession proceedings can be started through applications to the county court from private or social landlords over the next 3 months, from 18th March 2020
  • No guidance has been given about applications made before 18th March, so we assume these will go ahead.  Please get advice immediately if your landlord is taking or threatening repossession action
  • This is a short-term solution intended to help people who are affected by the Coronavirus.  If you have an ongoing issue affording your rent, get help now.
  • It is unclear at present whether this relates to rent arrears only – see “Possession hearings” section regarding phone hearings.

Situation

5. Covid-19 guidance for landlords and tenants

Situation

6. Energy Supplies

Action

Customers with prepayment meters who are self-isolating or unable to leave their home should speak to their supplier about their options.  This may include:

  • Someone being sent to top up your prepayment card or token
  • Having funds added to your meter
  • Having a preloaded gas or electricity card sent to you in the post

No credit meters will be disconnected during the outbreak

https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-covid-19-and-your-energy-supply

Situation

7. Repossession hearings

Action

No new possession action for rent arrears can start, but existing hearings are going ahead, and are being scheduled as phone hearings.

The court will let you know if your hearing has been adjourned (put off to a later date), or if it will be held over the phone. If you are not comfortable dealing with the hearing on the phone you can ask for an adjournment instead. 

Situation

8. Bath & North East Somerset Council tax

Action

There are no changes to collection process so all Council Tax payments will be expected as normal and collection action will proceed as normal if people miss payments

Check your entitlement to Council Tax support.

All the schemes are listed here and a link to apply online.

https://beta.bathnes.gov.uk/apply-council-tax-support

Please be aware that the council are not taking phone calls on this and you must allow 28 days for a response to an email or letter

Situation

9. You need support from a food bank

Action

Please be aware that some food bank times have changed.

Access to foodbanks is by only with a voucher and by referral. 

Visit our page on food banks to locate your nearest one and find out when it is open, and contact us or another referral agency to discuss obtaining a voucher.

Food

Situation

10. Help with food for children who normally receive free school meals

Action

Schools can now provide a £15 weekly shopping voucher for every eligible child, to be spent at certain supermarkets while schools are closed due to coronavirus.

Schools can continue to provide meals for collection or delivery themselves, but where this is not possible, the scheme will allow schools to provide vouchers to families electronically, or as a gift card for those without internet access.

Visit this website for more information – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/voucher-scheme-launches-for-schools-providing-free-school-meals?utm_source=1e8e0f2f-de27-4ddc-8bb7-4c57b4725211&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

Situation

11. Can I move house at the moment?

Action

Moving house is not one of the reasons given when you can leave you house, so the answer is no at the moment.  Shelter has provided some advice on this – https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/coronavirus#Moving_home

Government guidance suggests that you can move house in exceptional circumstances.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

Situation

1. New claimants

Action

  • Those affected by coronavirus will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive an advance without physically attending a jobcentre.
  • The seven waiting days for Employment and Support Allowance for new claimants suffering from coronavirus or required to stay at home will not apply, so it will be payable from day one.

Situation

2. People already claiming benefits

Action

  • As of 25 March 2020, reviews and reassessments for disability benefits are being suspended for the next three months. The suspension will be kept under regular review and extended if necessary
  • Claimants who cannot attend a reassessment for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit will continue to receive their payments while their assessment is rearranged.
  • People who need to claim ESA or Universal Credit because of coronavirus will not be required to produce a Fit Note.
  • When claimants tell us in good time that they are staying at home or that they have been diagnosed with coronavirus, they will not be sanctioned. We will review their conditionality requirements in their claimant commitment, to ensure they are reasonable.
  • Claimants who are staying at home as a result of coronavirus will have their mandatory work search and work availability requirements removed to account for a period of sickness.

Situation

3. You own a business or are self-employed and need support.

Action

The government has announced the following support schemes (Use the link below for details on how to apply and further information):

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (All UK businesses are eligible)
  • deferring VAT and Income Tax payments (VAT – All UK businesses are eligible | Tax – All self-employed workers are eligible.)
  • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) (Follow the link below for eligibility criteria)
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England (Follow the link below for eligibility criteria)
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief (Follow the link below for eligibility criteria)
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 (Follow the link below for eligibility criteria)
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme (Eligible if you pay tax to the UK government and have outstanding tax liabilities)

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

Situation

4. Employees and self-employed people

Action

  • People who cannot work due to coronavirus and are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of their illness. We intend this measure to apply retrospectively from 13 March.
  • Statutory Sick Pay will be payable to people who are staying at home on Government advice, not just those who are infected, this measure will apply from 13 March. Employers are urged to use their discretion about what evidence, if any, they ask for.
  • If employees need to provide evidence to their employer that they need to stay at home due to coronavirus, they will be able to get it from NHS 111 Online instead of having to get a Fit Note from their doctor. This is currently under development and will be made available soon. 
  • Self-employed claimants on Universal Credit who are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus will not have a Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) applied for a period of time while affected. 

Business and self-employed tax helpline

Situation

HMRC has set up a helpline for business and self-employed people who are concerned about paying their tax.

Link also contains info about claiming a government business interruption loan.

Insolvency service change to contact details during outbreak

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/contacting-an-official-receiver

  • If you need to contact an Official Receiver please email the office that is managing your case. A directory of email addresses is available on our website
  • If you want to ask the Insolvency Enquiry Line ask about processes administered or regulated by the Insolvency Service (e.g. bankruptcies, debt relief orders and liquidations) you can use our online form to submit your enquiry and we will respond to you
  • If you have an enquiry about redundancy payments you can consult our online redundancy guidance which contains information about frequently asked questions. If the guidance does not answer your questions you can contact us by email
  • If you have a question about a Debt Relief Order you can contact us by email

After reading through, if you have any further questions our Adviceline is available. Click here to go to our contact page.