For those in receipt of welfare benefits, this can be a concerning time. We have provided some usual information below.
There is no excuse for domestic abuse. If you are a victim, if you feel at risk, or if you are concerned about a friend, relative or neighbour, call us. You can also call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247. Always call 999 in an emergency. More information is available on our website here. Please also familiarise yourself with The Silent Solution system. This is a system for victims of domestic abuse who might be afraid of further danger and escalation of harm if they are overheard when calling 999 in an emergency.
When somebody calls 999, an operator will ask which emergency service is required. If you are is not able to ask for help, your call will be forwarded to a police system and you will hear an automated message.
If 55 is pressed by the caller, the system will detect this. The operator will then transfer the call to the relevant police force as an emergency. Click here to find out more.
Over the past few weeks, people in the UK have changed their ways of living substantially. It is crucial to look after your mental health at this time. Here are some services which Barnet Hmes residents can make use of:
- Samaritans works to make sure there’s always someone there for anyone who needs someone. You can either call them on 116 123 or visit their website: https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/
- The Barnet Wellbeing Hub focuses on supporting your mental and physical health. Call 0333 344 9088 or visit https://www.barnetwellbeing.org.uk/covid-19
- Barnet Voice for Mental Health – Telephone, email, web-chat and one-to-one/group video-chat peer support for adults who are struggling with their mental health. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 020 3475 1307or use their live web chat (available 2-4pm Monday to Friday) at https://www.inclusionbarnet.org.uk/barnet-voice-for-mental-health/.
- Barnet Council: https://www.barnet.gov.uk/mental-health-and-wellbeing
Useful Advice for people claiming benefits
- from 19 March people receiving benefits do not have to attend jobcentre appointments.
- people will continue to receive payments as normal but will not need to attend the jobcentre in person for a period of 3 months
- you can continue to apply for benefits online, jobcentres will remain open to help those who do not have access to a phone or the internet
- disabled and sick claimants who cannot attend a reassessment for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit will continue to receive their payments while their assessment is rearranged
- people who need to claim ‘new style’ ESA or Universal Credit because of coronavirus will not be required to produce a fit note.
- if you have confirmed to the DWP that you are staying at home or that you have been diagnosed with coronavirus, you will not receive any sanctions – instead the DWP will review your conditionality requirements in your claimant commitment, to ensure that they are reasonable
- if you are staying at home as a result of coronavirus you will have your mandatory work search and work availability requirements removed to account for a period of sickness
- If a claim is made for Universal Credit, any legacy benefits they currently receiving such as tax credits, Income Support, Income-based Job Seekers Allowance, Income Related ESA and (unless they are in temporary accommodation) Housing Benefit will stop.
- It is important that claimants already on Universal Credit inform the DWP on their online accounts about to changes in their circumstances.
For people making a new claim for benefits
Those affected by coronavirus will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance up front without physically attending a jobcentre.
- If they have a resident partner who works or receives a pension, their income and savings will affect entitlement to Universal Credit.
- People who are now no longer working who are not ill or self-isolating can claim ‘new style’ JSA. For more info please visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-style-jobseekers-allowance
- the 7 waiting days for ‘new style’ ESA for new claimants will not apply if they are suffering from coronavirus or are required to stay at home – so it will be payable from day one.
- New claimants for ‘new style’ ESA and JSA must have paid sufficient National Insurance contributions for the previous two tax years to qualify. If they have a resident partner who works or receives a pension, their income and savings will NOT affect their entitlement.
- Claimants applying for ‘new style’ ESA and JSA can also apply for Universal Credit as a ‘top up’ income or for Housing Benefit.
- Useful link – www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/
For employees and self-employed people
- Employed people who cannot work due to coronavirus and earn on average above £118 a week are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of their illness.
- Self-employed people are not eligible to claim Statutory Sick Pay.
- Statutory Sick Pay will be payable to employed people who are staying at home on government advice, not just those who are infected, from 13 March 2020
- if employees need to provide evidence to their employer that they need to stay at home due to coronavirus, they will be able to get it from the NHS 111 Online instead of having to get a fit note from their doctor
- self-employed claimants on Universal Credit who are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus will not have a Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) applied for a period of time while affected.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme open to all UK employers for at least three months. It is designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by Coronavirus
- employers can use a portal to claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ (employees on a leave of absence) usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month
- the scheme is open to all UK employers that had created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on 28 February 2020 and has a UK bank account
- any UK organisation can apply for the scheme including businesses; charities; recruitment agencies and public authorities
- the scheme can be applied to furloughed employees on a full-time, part-time, agency and flexible/zero hour contract
- to be eligible the employee cannot be working – if they are on either reduced hours or on reduced pay the employee is not eligible for assistance under the scheme
- employees hired after 28 February 2020 are not eligible for the scheme
- For more information see the following useful link – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-Coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
Coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme
- this scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed
- you can apply if you’re a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and you:
- have submitted your Income Tax Self-Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19
- traded in the tax year 2019-20
- are trading when you apply, or would be except for Coronavirus
- intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-21
- have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to Coronavirus
- you must also be earning less than £50,000 and more than half of your income must come from being self-employed
- you must provide proofs that the above applies to all of your self-employed income in 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19
- you will receive a taxable grant which will be 80% of the average profits from the 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 tax years
- you cannot apply for this scheme. HMRC will contact you if you are eligible for the scheme and invite to you to pay online
- you will only be able to access the scheme through the GOV.UK website. If anyone contacts you claiming to be from the HMRC and asks you to provide them with your financial details DO NOT DO SO. It is a scam
- For more information see the following useful link – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-Coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme
Our BOOST website provides further help and support, especially around digital matters.
Council Tax support and hardship grants
Barnet Council is providing assistance for those most affected financially by Coronavirus (COVID-19). Working-age Barnet residents in receipt of Council Tax Support will be automatically awarded £150 towards their 2020/21 Council Tax account. Crisis Fund grants are now available for Barnet residents aged 16+ and facing financial hardship. For the self-employed, the council is suspending the Council Tax Support Minimum Income Floor calculation until 30 September 2020. This change will be automatically calculated and you won’t need to apply. Click here for more information.