Are you worried about your financial position because of the Coronavirus?

Posted 23 March 2020

We understand that this is a time of uncertainty, so we have pulled together advice for you if you have been affected by the Coronavirus and need benefits advice. This is an evolving situation so the advice below is the position as at 19 March. 

What is the Government position?

As at 19 March, the government has announced temporary changes to some benefits:

If you are unable to work because you have symptoms of Coronavirus, or because you are following government guidelines to 'self-isolate' then you will be entitled to claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from the first day you are unable to work.

SSP is paid by your employer if you earn at least £118 per week. You can get £94.25 per week of SSP for up to 28 weeks.

If you are self-employed or otherwise ineligible for SSP, you can now more easily make a claim for two benefits.  These are Universal Creditor and 'New-Style' Employment and Support Allowance:

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a means-tested single, monthly payment to help with your living costs, including your rent. It replaces 6 existing benefits: Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), and income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). If you are already claiming any of these benefits, a claim for Universal Credit may affect your entitlement so please seek further advice before making a claim.

In Universal Credit currently, the rules for self-employed people have been relaxed for workers affected by Coronavirus so that your actual earnings are taken into account, rather than applying the 'Minimum Income Floor' (in which it is assumed that your earnings are the equivalent to full time at minimum wage, even if your actual earnings are lower than this amount).

What is Employment and Support Allowance?

'New-Style' Employment and Support Allowance can be claimed if your health limits your ability to work. It can be claimed if you have paid and/or been credited with National Insurance contributions in the last 2-3 years (this can be through employment or self-employment). It differs from Universal Credit because most of your income is not taken into account, and your savings also do not affect how much you can receive. 'New-Style' ESA is paid to you fortnightly.

More detailed information can be found at the following websites:

Universal Credit

Employees, benefits claimants & businesses

Citizens Advice

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