Government help for households during coronavirus crisis
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The Government has announced additional help for people whose household income has been affected due to coronavirus.
If you are unable to 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.
Statutory sick pay will also be payable if you are staying at home on Government advice, not just if you are infected by coronavirus. On March 20, the Chancellor announced a further package of measures including the job retention scheme which has been set up to help pay people’s wages.
If you are liable to pay council tax for your home, you may qualify for help through North Somerset Council’s tax support scheme. You can use its website to find out more and make a claim. For other help including help with rent or mortgage payments, visit the Universal Credit website. For more details on financial support, log on to gov.uk.
For people already claiming benefits
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If you are already receiving Universal Credit and your household income is affected by coronavirus you should report the change through your online journal or by calling the Universal Credit Helpline on 0800 3285644. If you are receiving other state benefits or tax credits, you should report any changes to the relevant office dealing with your claim.
People in receipt of housing benefit or council tax support from the council can tell the council of any changes about their household income.
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Extra help has been announced for people renting their home from a private landlord. This will be done through an increase in the local housing allowance rates used to work out housing benefit. Changes will apply from this month and the council is waiting for the Government to provide more detail on what the new rates will be.
Residents do not need to contact the council to request the increased local housing allowance rates. Once it has been given the new rates of local housing allowance it will automatically recalculate all relevant housing benefit claims and send notifications to confirm the new entitlement.
Extra financial help
The Government has announced it will provide local authorities with funding of £500million for a coronavirus hardship scheme to support vulnerable residents. Most of the funding is to be used to offer extra support through each local authority’s own council tax support scheme.
The intention is that every working age household in receipt of council tax support will receive an extra award of £150 in the next few weeks. This will be in addition to any council tax support already calculated for the period from April 1 to March 31, 2021. These awards will be applied to accounts as early as possible after the beginning of April.
There is no need to apply for the extra help. Awards will be made automatically and new council tax bills will be issued in due course.
The council has two discretionary funds to support people in need of financial help:
A discretionary housing payment (DHP) is a payment to help with housing costs including rent payments, rent in advance and deposits. It can be paid to anyone receiving housing benefit or universal credit, which includes the housing element.
DHPs are used to provide temporary relief to families affected by welfare reform, such as the benefit cap and social sector size criteria, known as the bedroom tax. It can also provide support for customers identified as vulnerable, for example those who are not able to work at the moment.
A welfare provision scheme can assist vulnerable people in meeting their needs for subsistence or financial support where they are unable to meet their immediate short-term needs in the case of a crisis. This could be a family in a crisis with no other means and in need of food, or a household in need of help with credit for their gas and electricity.
The scheme can also help those who require assistance to maintain their independence within the community. This could be a person leaving prison or someone who has experienced a house fire and has no access to basic furniture or essential white goods such as a cooker, or even for help with clothing.
Proposals have also been agreed to ensure vulnerable customers who may fall into debt remain supplied with energy while in self isolation.