If you are recovering from a stroke, or staying at home due to coronavirus (COVID-19), your finances could be affected. This page gives details of the main ways you can get support. Plus some ideas for finding more information and individual advice.
Check the Understanding Universal Credit website to learn more about all the benefits available, including sick pay.
These benefits calculators are up-to-date with the changes due to the coronavirus:
- Entitledto benefits calculator
- Policy in Practice benefit and budgeting calculator
- Turn2Us benefits calculator
Get help and advice
- You can find advice online like the entitledto website.
- For individual advice, you can try Citizens Advice.
- Independent Age helpline is for older people 0800 319 6789.
Changes to benefits
Some benefit amounts have been raised to help people during this difficult time. If you are already claiming a benefit, it will be extended for three months from 23 March. If your circumstances change, tell the DWP online.
There won’t be any face-to-face assessments for benefits, and you won’t have to attend a jobcentre. If you start Universal Credit, you should get an advance payment immediately with no waiting period.
Read the government information about sick pay, including how to claim and how long you can get it.
Work and coronavirus (COVID-19)
If you’re employed
The main government website about coronavirus has a link to information about employment and financial support. This includes benefits, employment rights and self-employment. Things change regularly, so check for updates.
If you are self-isolating due to the infection, you should be able to get sick pay. You can get an online self-isolation note from NHS 111 for your employer if they ask you for one.
If you are following shielding rules (in the group of people who are extremely vulnerable to complications), your employer should support you with this.
If you are at higher risk of complications due to a stroke, your age or other health conditions, the government advice is to follow stringent social distancing measures. If you're unable to work from home due to the nature of your job, talk to your employer and find out what support they can offer.
Questions about work and coronavirus (COVID-19)?
ACAS has information for employers and employees, including people more at risk of complications. To talk through your options, call their helpline 0300 123 1100. If you’re a member of a union, speak to your rep. Read the government information for employees which includes guidance on sick pay and furlough.
Businesses and employers should all support staff to follow the rules on social distancing and shielding. This government information for employers sets out what they should do.
If you’re self-employed
The self-employment income support scheme provides grants for self-employed people who have lost income due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Eligible people will be contacted by HMRC. You can also claim Universal Credit.
If you’re having trouble paying your tax, contact the HMRC coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline.
Paying bills, rent and mortgage
Many businesses and services are trying to help people who can’t meet payments. There is more information about the help that’s available on the Money Advice Service website.
If you’re struggling to pay your credit card bill or utility bills, get in touch with your provider or lender to see if they can allow you to defer payments, waive fees, or offer any other form of support.
Gas and electricity
If you have a pre-payment meter and can’t top up, contact your supplier. Help is available including a pre-loaded card posted to you, or someone being sent to top up your card. Your supplier will explain how you can pay for the credit.
Help is also available for people on credit meters, including payment breaks and hardship funds. No meters will be disconnected during this period.
You can apply for a three month mortgage holiday by contacting your mortgage provider. This will change the amount or length of your future repayments. The Which website has more details about mortgage holidays.
If you have trouble paying rent, speak to your landlord. You can claim housing costs through Universal Credit or Housing Benefit.
Tenants are now protected against eviction by a new three-month notice period for eviction proceedings. And all evictions have been suspended for three months from 26 March. If a landlord takes a mortgage holiday, they should pass this on to their tenants.
Help from your local authority
Check your local authority website to see if you can get a council tax reduction. They may offer some help to people who can’t pay at the moment.
Local authorities may also offer some help with housing costs, vouchers and budgeting loans.
Free school meals and food banks
If your children are eligible for free school meals, the school will provide free meals or vouchers while the school is closed. If you claim benefits you can apply online for free school meals for your child. If you’re on benefits, pregnant women and children under four may be able to get Healthy Start vouchers for milk, fruit and vegetables.
If you need to use a food bank, you must be sent by someone else, such as a charity or social worker. Citizens Advice has tips on how to get access to a food bank.
It’s good to be aware of the new scams and frauds based on coronavirus (COVID-19). They might be online, by phone or people visiting your home. They might claim to be from your bank or the government. They might sell fake products, offer a tax rebate or sell coronavirus tests.
Avoid scams by checking who is contacting you, even if it seems genuine. Don’t share confidential details like PIN numbers. Don’t click on links in messages and emails. For more advice about avoiding scams visit the CIFAS website.