COVID-19: Benefits service

Financial support and benefits 

Universal Credit

The Government has issued advice about coronavirus and claiming benefits, which will continue to be updated on the Universal Credit website.

The key points are:

  • If you cannot 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 be payable if you are staying at home on Government advice, not just if you are infected by coronavirus. This will apply from 13 March 2020.
  • In light of the current coronavirus outbreak, the Department for Work and Pensions has taken the precautionary decision to temporarily suspend all face-to-face assessments for health and disability-related benefits.
  • If you have a jobcentre appointment but are staying at home on Government advice or have been diagnosed with coronavirus, you will not be sanctioned if you tell DWP in good time.
  • If you are staying at home as a result of coronavirus, your mandatory work search and work availability requirements will be removed to account for a period of sickness.
  • If you are self-employed and claiming Universal Credit, and are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus, the Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) will not be applied for a period of time whilst you are affected.
  • If you are affected by coronavirus you will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance upfront without physically attending a jobcentre.
  • If you employ people, you are urged to use your discretion about what evidence, if any, you ask for when making decisions about sick pay.
  • If you have fewer than 250 employees, you will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay for employees unable to work because of coronavirus. This refund will be for up to 2 weeks per employee. 

Welfare rights advice

The Government has issued advice on support available for benefit claimants. Jobcentre appointments have been suspended for 3 months, starting from 19 March 2020. Jobcentres remain open and will continue to support people who are not able to use phones and online, including homeless people. If you do not currently claim, you may be entitled to help through benefits if you need to self-isolate because:

  • You have Coronavirus
  • You have Coronavirus symptoms, for example a high temperature or new continuous cough
  • Someone in your household has Coronavirus symptoms
  • You've been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111
  • You have to stay at home due government advice on Coronavirus.

Financial support

If you have been affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and feel you need financial support, you may be entitled to support through the Council’s Local support Payments. The Council has announced that it will boost this by £500,000, on top of funding from central government.

This is an existing scheme which the Council has had in place for a number of years, but the criteria are being expanded to ensure that we can help more people who have been severely impacted by COVID-19 and need our support to make ends meet. Further details on how to apply are on the Local support payments webpage.

You can also apply over the telephone on 020 7745 6464 between 8.30am and 5.00pm, Monday to Friday. We are seeing an increase in calls and are dealing with them as quickly as possible.