The Government has announced additional help for people whose household income has been affected due to coronavirus.
Cllr Ash Cartman, North Somerset Council’s executive member for finance, said: “There is lots of financial help available to assist people through these unprecedented times. I would like to reiterate the message around paying council tax – we would ask all those who are able to continue to pay their monthly instalments to do so as council tax provides a significant proportion of the council’s revenue and enables us to run important local services, many of which are under pressure during this difficult period.”
For people in work and not claiming benefits
If you are unable to work due to coronavirus and are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay you will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of your illness.
Statutory Sick Pay will also be payable if you are staying at home on Government advice, not just if you are infected by coronavirus. The changes to legislation regarding Statutory Sick Pay and coronavirus changed from 13 March 2020.
On 20 March 2020 the Chancellor announced a further package of measures including the job retention scheme which has been set up to help pay people’s wages.
If you are liable to pay Council Tax for your home, you may qualify for help through our Council Tax Support scheme. You can use our website to find out more and make a claim.
For other help including help with rent or mortgage payments visit the Universal Credit website.
You can view GOV.UK information for more details on financial support:
- New guidance for claiming new style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- New guidance for the self-employed
- Increase in Working Tax Credit awards
For people already claiming benefits
If you are already receiving Universal Credit and your household income is affected by coronavirus you should report the change through your online journal or by calling the Universal Credit Helpline on 0800 328 5644. If you are receiving other state benefits or tax credits you should report any changes to the relevant office dealing with your claim.
If you are currently in receipt of Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support from North Somerset Council you can tell us any changes about your household income. If you have any questions and need to get in touch with us, please use this form.
Extra help has been announced for people renting their home from a private landlord. This will be done through an increase in the local housing allowance rates used to work out Housing Benefit. We know the changes will apply from April 2020 and we are waiting for the Government to give us more detail on what the new rates will be. Residents do not need to contact us to request the increased local housing allowance rates. Once we have been given the new rates of local housing allowance we will automatically recalculate all relevant Housing Benefit claims and send notifications to confirm the new entitlement.
Extra financial help
The Government has announced it will provide local authorities with funding of £500m. This is for a Coronavirus hardship scheme to support vulnerable residents. Initial details were released to all local authorities on 24 March 2020. Most of the funding is to be used to offer extra support through each local authority’s own Council Tax Support scheme.
The intention is that every working age household in receipt of Council Tax Support will receive an extra award of £150 in the next few weeks. This will be in addition to any Council Tax Support already calculated for the period 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021. These awards will be applied to accounts as early as possible after the beginning of April. There is no need to apply for the extra help. Awards will be made automatically and new Council Tax bills will be issued in due course.
In the meantime, the council has two discretionary funds to support residents in need of extra financial help:
- A Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) is a payment to help with housing costs including rent payments, rent in advance and deposits. It can be paid to anyone receiving Housing Benefit or Universal Credit (UC) which includes the housing element. DHPs are used to provide temporary relief to families affected by welfare reform, such as the benefit cap and social sector size criteria, known as ‘bedroom tax’. It can also provide support for customers identified as vulnerable (for example those who are not able to work at the moment).
- A Welfare Provision Scheme which can assist vulnerable people in meeting their needs for subsistence or financial support where they are unable to meet their immediate short-term needs in the case of a crisis. This could be a family in a crisis with no other means and in need of food, or a household in need of help with credit for their gas and electricity. The scheme can also help those who require assistance to maintain their independence within the community. This could be a person leaving prison or someone who has experienced a house fire and have no access to basic furniture or essential white goods such as a cooker, or even for help with clothing.
Proposals have also been agreed to ensure vulnerable customers who may fall into debt remain supplied with energy while in self isolation.
Measures include ensuring prepayment and pay-as-you go customers remain supplied with energy through challenging times and supporting all customers in financial distress; and industry agreement signed by all UK domestic suppliers and will come into force immediately.
For more Coronavirus information go to: www.nsomersetlibdems.org.uk/coronavirus/