This page will be updated when appropriate. Last updated 18 May.
The Money Advice Service has published advice for those experiencing financial hardship because of COVID-19 here.
Charnwood Borough Council, working with John Storer Charnwood, has launched Charnwood Community Action to help support local residents. If anyone (who is not on the NHS list) would like help with shopping, medicine delivery or a friendly chat over the phone, they can register for support here.
More information about Charnwood Community Action and volunteering can be found here.
Age UK has produced a guide about COVID-19 for older people which includes more information about the symptoms of the virus, what people should be doing and how they can help keep themselves and others healthy and well.
Age UK also have the Call in Time initiative which is a free telephone friendship service for people 60 and over. Users will be matched with a like-minded person who is keen to make a new friend, and receive a phone call every week. More information about this service can be found here.
Going to Work
The Government has not required any other businesses to close except shops selling non-essential goods and other leisure premises. Indeed, it is important for businesses to carry on.
Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.
Sometimes this will not be possible, as certain jobs require people to travel to, from and for their work – for instance if they operate machinery, work in construction or manufacturing, or are delivering front line services. Employees who cannot work from home can still travel for work purposes, provided they are not showing COVID-19 symptoms and neither they nor any of their household are self-isolating. This is consistent with advice from the Chief Medical Officer.
Employers who have people in their offices or onsite should ensure that employees are able to follow Public Health England guidelines including, where possible, maintaining a 2 metre distance from others, and washing their hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available.
The Government has published full guidance on going to work here.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
Employees can get £94.25 per week SSP, for up to 28 weeks, if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are self-isolating in line with Government advice. Employees should speak to their employer to see whether they are eligible.
SSP is payable from day 1 for affected individuals and, if evidence is required to cover self-isolation or household isolation beyond the first 7 days of absence, then employees with symptoms of COVID-19 can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online and those who live with someone who has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website.
The Government has published further guidance for employees here.
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
The SEISS will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) who have trading profits up to £50,000 and have lost income due to COVID-19.
This scheme will allow those who are eligible to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed. More information about this and how to apple can be found here.
Those earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week, as well as those who are not eligible for SSP or the SEISS, and who have COVID-19 or have been advised to stay at home, can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit (UC) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
The Government is increasing the standard allowance in UC and the basic element in Working Tax Credit (WTC) for 1 year from 6 April. Both will increase by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating. This will apply to all new and existing UC claimants and to existing WTC claimants.
From 6 April, the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will also be temporarily relaxed to support those who are self-employed through the economic impact of the outbreak and allow them to follow Government guidance on self-isolation and social distancing. This change will apply to all UC claimants and will last for the duration of the outbreak.
People are able to claim UC and access advance payments upfront without the current requirement to attend a jobcentre if they are advised to self-isolate. Special arrangements have been put in place for people who are already in receipt of benefits and who cannot attend reassessments or jobcentre appointments because they are required to stay at home or are infected by COVID-19. More information about this here.
Contributory ESA will be payable, at a rate of up to £57.90 to those who are under 25 and up to £73.10 a week to those who are over 25, for eligible people affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating in line with advice from day 1 of sickness.
If employers cannot cover staff costs due to COVID-19, they may be able to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to avoid redundancies.
Employers who intend to access the scheme will discuss with their employees becoming classified as a furloughed worker. This would mean that employees are kept on their employer’s payroll rather than being laid off.
To qualify for this scheme, employees should not undertake work for their employer while they are furloughed. This will allow their employer to claim a grant of up to 80% of the employee’s wage for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. Employers could choose to fund the differences between this payment and their employee’s salary, but does not have to.
If an employee’s salary is reduced as a result of these changes, they may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit. More information about this here.
The Government intends for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to run for at least 3 months from 1 March 2020, but will extend it if necessary.
The Government has announced that it is deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. This deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020/21 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the Government as normal.
For Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.
All self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.
Those who have missed a tax payment or who might miss their next payment due to COVID-19 can call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559. Those who are worried about a future payment are asked to call HMRC nearer the time.
Financial Hardship Fund
The Government has announced a new £500 million Hardship Fund so Local Authorities can support economically vulnerable people and households. The Government expects most of this funding to be used to provide more council tax relief, either through existing Local Council Tax Support schemes, or through similar measures.
Any questions regarding this fund should be directed to Charnwood Borough Council.
Schools are now closed except for children of key workers and vulnerable children. Children who do not fall into these groups should remain at home with appropriate care. More information about this can be found here.
GCSEs, AS and A levels have been cancelled this year. More information about the measures which have been put in place to ensure children get the qualifications they need and deserve can be found here.
Landlords will now have to give all renters 3 months’ notice if they intend to seek possession. This means that the landlord cannot apply to start the court process until after this period. This extended buffer period will apply in law until 30 September 2020 and both the end point and the 3 month notice period will be extended if needed. More information about this can be found here.
Tenants are still liable for their rent and should pay this as usual. If a tenant is facing financial hardship and is struggling to pay their rent they should speak to their landlord. In this unique context, the Government would encourage tenants and landlords to work together to put in place a rent payment scheme.
Renters, who are both in and out of work, may be able to get support for rental costs through Universal Credit (UC). More information about this here.
From April, the Government is increasing Local Housing Allowance rates to the 30th percentile of market rents. This applies to all private renters who are new or existing UC housing element claimants and to existing Housing Benefit claimants.
The Government has announced that those who have benefited from a Government backed Help to Buy equity loan will be offered interest payment holidays if they are struggling to pay due to COVID-19.
The Government has also agreed with mortgage lenders that they will offer repayment holidays of 3 months to households in financial difficulty due to COVID-19. This will also apply to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19. The offer of a payment holiday can be made available to customers who are up to date with payments and not already in arrears.
Customers who are concerned about their current financial situation should contact their lender at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss if this is a suitable option for them.
Loan Repayments & Bills
The Financial Conduct Authority has called on lenders to use flexibility built into their rules to support consumers who are experiencing difficulties paying back personal loans or credit card bills as a result of COVID-19, taking into account customers’ individual circumstances. Many major lenders have already made statements to this effect.
Those who are experiencing difficulties paying back loans or credit card bills because of COVID-19 should talk to their lender. Lenders should record payment holidays with in such a way that it will not impact on your credit score.
The Government has published guidance for people travelling and living overseas during the pandemic here.
Charnwood Borough Council has published information on changes to their services here.
Leicestershire County Council has published information on their key services and closures here.