Income and personal finance

HM Government COVID-19 guidance for employees and personal finance

Universal Credit helpline: 0800 328 5644

Detailed Universal Credit information is available here.

***Please find below a summary of the key points from government guidance. However, be aware this information was last updated on Friday 27th March. While it will be updated as and when there is new information, please bear in mind that it may be out of date by the time of reading and you should always check the government's live guidance.***

 

What protections are available?

No business has to lay people off. To protect jobs, grants will be paid to employers to cover 80% of wages. This has never happened before. There's no limit on the funding available, and wages can even be backdated.

 

Should I work from home?

Detailed government employer guidance is available here.

Everyone should try to follow social distancing measures as much as is pragmatic. This means work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this.

 

Will my employer be obliged to pay me while I stay at home? 

Statutory Sick Pay will be payable if you are staying at home on government advice, not just if you are infected by coronavirus.

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. 

If you need to provide evidence to your employer that you need to stay at home due to having symptoms of coronavirus an Isolation Note can be obtained from NHS 111 online. If you live with someone that has symptoms, an Isolation Note can be obtained from the NHS website.

 

What if I have a 'zero hours' contract?

You may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay. Check with your employer in the first instance.

If you're not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, you may be able to apply for Universal Credit  or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Universal Credit and the Working Tax Credit will be increased by £1,000 this year.

 

What if I’m self-employed?

Detailed government guidance for self-employed people can be found here.

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

Self-employed sick pay: you can now access Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees.

You can apply for Universal Credit  - the government have changed certain rules governing this benefit during the coronavirus period.

Self-employed tax: the next self-assessment payments will also be deferred until January 2021.

 

What if the whole family has to stay at home so we have no income?

If no one is getting Statutory Sick Pay, the family can apply for Universal Credit - the Government have changed certain rules governing this benefit during the coronavirus period. Universal Credit and the Working Tax Credit will be increased by £1,000 this year.

 

What if I lose my job?

No business has to lay people off. To protect jobs, grants will be paid to employers to cover 80% of wages. This has never happened before. There's no limit on the funding available, and wages can even be backdated. This scheme aims to support all those employed through the PAYE system, regardless of their employment contract, including those on zero-hour contracts or agency workers.

For those do who, sadly, lose their jobs, Universal Credit and the Working Tax Credit will be increased by £1,000 this year. This will benefit over 4 million households.

 

What help is there for paying my bills?

You can read more about help with mortgage payments and/or rent on my website here.

You can read more about help with energy bills on my website here.

You can read more about help with council tax here: basingstoke.gov.uk/covid-19-council-tax or here: hart.gov.uk/the-council/news/hdc-coronavirus-update-payment-break-council-tax

 

What financial support can I get?

The government have made a number of changes to benefits and sick pay and may take more steps over the coming days and weeks. The following two organisations provide detailed support and advice about your money in light of coronavirus and new government measures.

  • This up-to-date guide from the Money Advice Service is easy to follow and filled with good advice about sick pay and changes to claiming your benefits during this challenging time.
  • The advice and benefits and grants calculators at Turn2Us are useful to get support if the coronavirus has had a negative impact on your finances.

 

I'm worried about paying my tax - is there any help?

HMRC dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559

Monday - Friday: 8 am - 8 pm; Saturday: 8 am - 4 pm

Yes. A dedicated COVID-19 helpline for businesses and self-employed is being run by HMRC supported by 2,000 staff, who will discuss possible remedies such as:

  • agreeing an instalment arrangment
  • suspending debt collection proceedings
  • cancelling penalties and interest

 

Page last updated 27th March 2020.