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What benefits can you claim if you’re affected by the COVID-19 Coronavirus?

The information on this page was checked and was correct as of 3rd April 2020 AM. For further information and advice on your benefits claim, please see our Welfare Rights Service

What benefits can you claim if you are affected by Covid-19 ?

People’s jobs and income are being affected in many different ways – and the benefit’s system is very complicated. This is a quick guide to the main forms of help that may be available but if you aren’t sure what you should claim then we recommend getting advice.

If you’re in City of London, Hackney or Waltham Forest (and are aged 18 or over) you can ask us for advice and support with your benefits claim. Otherwise you can find out where to get advice in your area here.

Many people will need to claim Universal Credit – and we’ve got a guide to the main things to watch out for when claiming.

You’ll need to claim Universal Credit if you aren’t entitled to any other benefit, or if you are claiming another benefit but need additional help towards housing costs, or additional money because you are part of a couple or have children.

It can still make sense to claim Universal Credit and a different benefit – and we explain why.

If you are self employed and your income has fallen (or your business has had to close permanently)

The government is planning to help to some self-employed people whose income has fallenWe’re still waiting for full details but we know that it will only apply to people whose main income came from their self-employmentWorkers on zero hour contracts are not covered, but may receive help through their employers.  

Government help will be based on information from previous tax years, so people who are newly self-employed may not get the same help, or may find it more difficult to claim.  

Further information is likely to be available soon, however no payments will be made until June. If it isn’t possible to wait until June for a payment then it is likely to be best to make a claim for Universal Credit as soon as possible 

If you are currently employed but can’t work

Start by talking to your employer.

If you are sick and can’t work (or are self-isolating under government advice) you may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). You would get £94.25 a week, and it would be paid by you employer in the same way they pay your wages.

Only employees who have been earning over £118 a week can get SSP.

SSP can be paid even if you have savings or other income that mean you cannot claim income based benefits like Universal Credit. You may be able to claim Universal Credit on top if you need extra money to support your partner or children, or to pay housing costs.

If you can’t work because your place of work has closed the government may pay your employer up to 80% of your wages so you can keep being paid. This would also be paid in the same way your normal wages are paid. Some employers will only pay this when they receive money from the government so there may be delays.

Workers on zero hour contracts can be covered, if they are being  paid through payroll (with deductions for tax and National Insurance). 

Your employer may pay you more than this. You might have a contract that says you should be paid more than SSP when you’re off sick. And some employers may pay you full wages instead of the 80% offered by the government.  

You cannot receive help from this scheme if you continue to do any work for your employer. This means you need to think carefully before agreeing to reduce your hours.  

If you are no longer employed

If your employer has closed down, or told you that you no longer have a job you may be entitled to claim New Style Employment Support Allowance (ESA) or New Style JobSeeker’s Allowance (JSA)

Whether you can claim these benefits will depend on the National Insurance contributions you have paid over the last two to three years. (You can check your contribution record online or by phone).

ESA is paid if you have a long term sickness or disability that would limit the work you can do. ESA pays £73.10 a week (less if you are under 25) but can increase after 13 weeks depending on how much your illness or disability affects you.

JSA is paid if you are looking for work (and can be paid during short term sickness or self-isolation). JSA also pays £73.10 a week (less if you are under 25).

These benefits can be paid even if you have savings or other income that would mean you were not entitled to income based benefits. But you may be able to claim Universal Credit on top if you need extra money to support your partner or children, or to pay housing costs.