Coronavirus – Know Your Rights – Claiming Benefits

If you’ve been affected by COVID-19, you may be able to claim benefits or increase your current benefits.

This might be because you:
  • can’t work as you have COVID-19 or you’re following guidance to stay home – this is called ‘self-isolating’
  • are earning less because you can’t go to work
  • are self-employed and you’re earning less
  • have lost your job
If your employer has told you not to work, you might be able to keep being paid. You should check if your employer can pay 80% of your wages as part of the government job retention scheme. If you are not a UK citizen, you might still be able to claim benefits – check the rules for the benefit you want to apply for. If you need further advice contact us by phone on; 020 7373 4005 or email us;

Check if you can get Statutory Sick Pay

You might be able to claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you have coronavirus symptoms or you’re following the government guidance to self-isolate. You are not eligible for SSP if you’re self-employed. The government guidance states you will need to have coronavirus symptoms yourself or be living with someone who does. For more information read the government guidance on GOV.UK. You are entitled to SSP from the first day you were ill, or you started to self-isolate. It will be paid in the same way as your wages.

To get SSP, you need to:

  • be an employee
  • earn more than £118 a week
  • meet the other rules to get SSP; seek further advice by phoning Nucleus on 020 7373 4005 or complete the online enquiry form.
  • If you’re an employee, you should also check your contract of employment (COE) as your contract may have a more generous sick pay scheme than SSP employer might pay you.
  • If you’re self-isolating and can’t work from home, you should still claim SSP or check your COE for sick pay entitlement or contact your employer.
If you’re on a zero hours contract and you’ve already been offered work with an employer, you might still be able to get SSP. You’ll need to meet all the normal eligibility rules too. You’ll only get SSP for the work you’ve already been offered. You can also check your rights to sick pay if you are affected by COVID-19 on the ACAS website. ACAS gives free information to employees and employers.

If you’re self-employed or can’t get SSP 

You might be able to claim contribution-based or new-style Employment Support Allowance (ESA) if you have COVID-19 symptoms or you’re self-isolating. You’ll need to have paid enough National Insurance contributions for 2 tax years – in 2020 the tax years are 2017-18 and 2018-19. If you are entitled to new style ESA, you’ll be paid from the first day you were sick or self-isolating. You may also be able to get ESA if you’re caring for a child who has coronavirus or who’s been told to self-isolate. If you’re struggling to pay your bills, you might be able to get extra help from your local authority by applying to the council tax hardship fund. Visit the COVID-19 HUB website for further information on additional schemes for those particularly vulnerable due to age and/or health conditions, including the Local Support Payment scheme. RBKC Local Support Payments telephone number is 020 7745 6464. For further information check RBKC website or telephone Nucleus on 020 7373 4005.

If you’ve not claimed benefits before 

You may be entitled to claim Universal Credit as well as SSP. You may still be entitled to Universal Credit (UC) if you’re self-employed. You can claim Universal Credit online or by telephone; the telephone number to claim Universal Credit is 0800 328 5644. You may experience delays in making a claim for UC due to the unprecedented number of people now claiming. If your UC claim is delayed as a result of problems with the UC website, you may request your claim to be backdated explaining your reasons for the delay.  Many people have reported problems uploading ID validation documents that would normally be taken to your local JCP to upload. If you are experiencing difficulties you can write a note in your UC journal, or phone DWP helpline. There should also be a button to click on if you are having problems uploading your id validation documents and DWP should respond to assist you. If you are entitled to UC, your claim will be awarded from the first day of your claim, but it will take 5 weeks to receive your first payment. You may request an advance payment, but this must be repaid and is usually deducted from your ongoing UC award. UC is generally paid monthly. UC is an income-based benefit therefore other income and capital is taken into account when assessing your claim. However, from 6/04/20 there has been an increase in the standard UC element for a single claimant aged 25 or over to £409.89 a month and for a couple/joint claim for those 25 and over is £594.04. Your housing costs are included in your claim for UC.

Remember that you need to claim Council Tax Support from your local authority if you need help to pay your Council Tax. You can also apply to RBKC Hardship Fund.

For further advice please phone us on 03000125464.