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Coronavirus - your questions answered

Rent and financial support

For customers concerned about paying their rent during this period, especially those with no or reduced income, here are some ways you can be supported.

If you are employed

If you are employed and faced with reduced or no income due to sickness, the following options are available to you:

  • You might be eligible for contractual/company sick pay, and should check with your employer and/or check your employment contract. Depending on your employment contract you might be covered for full or half pay for example, for a period of time.
  • If you’re not entitled to contractual pay then you might be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), which is worth £94.25 per week. You can now also claim SSP if you are having to self-isolate even if you have no symptoms. Legislation is forthcoming which when in place means SSP will be payable from day one of sickness or self-isolation due to coronavirus, and backdated to 13th March (where applicable). More information on SSP is available on the government website.
  • If you're not entitled to SSP or your SSP entitlement has run out you might also be entitled to New Style ESA (previously known as Contribution-based ESA) if you have worked and paid enough National Insurance contributions, usually in the last two complete tax years.
  • You can claim Universal Credit on its own, or in addition to SSP or New Style ESA, depending on your circumstances and personal allowances. You can also claim Universal Credit if you are laid off by your employer and have no income as a result. There is no requirement for claimants to visit the Jobcentre offices in connection with a claim due to coronavirus. Local Jobcentres are making allowances for anyone who needs to make a new claim or to maintain an existing claim. More information on Universal Credit and how to claim it can be found on the government website.
Further guidance and support for employees can also be found on the government website.

Coronavirus job retention scheme

Employers can claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ (employees on a leave of absence) usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, as part of the coronavirus job retention scheme. They can also claim the associated employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage. The scheme is open to all UK employers that created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 19 March 2020.

If you are self-employed

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

The government have announced a taxable grant which will be paid to you or partnerships, worth 80% of your profits, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. Initially, this will be available for three months in one lump sum payment, and will start to be paid from the beginning of June. Check out the government website for more information on the scheme.

You are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, however you can also claim Universal Credit or New Style / Contribution-based Employment Support Allowance and Universal Credit, if you are too sick to work or having to self-isolate due to coronavirus.

There is further information and support for businesses in regards to coronavirus which self-employed people might also find useful. It includes support available for businesses from the government, specifically in relation to coronavirus. HMRC also have a help line for businesses, 0300 456 3565, which may be able to help our self-employed tenants.

From 6 April the Universal Credit “Minimum Income Floor” for self-employed workers (where the DWP assume a certain level of income through self-employment) will be disregarded for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak. More information is available on the government website.

If you are currently claiming benefits or need financial support

Universal Credit and attending Job Centre appointments

There is no need to call the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in most cases when making a new claim. If they need to check any information provided as part of a claim they will call you. The DWP have confirmed that claimants don’t need to call to verify their accounts so this now means claimants should expect a call instead. Those applying for Universal Credit can receive up to a month’s advance up front without physically attending a Jobcentre appointment.

Access to Jobcentres is now being limited only to those directed to attend a booked appointment or vulnerable claimants who can’t access DWP services any other way. If you’ve been affected by coronavirus and have any queries about Universal Credit, contact your work coach using the online journal or call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.

Face-to-face assessments for sickness and disability benefits

If you claim New Style / Contribution-based Employment Support Allowance, Personal Independence Payments, Universal Credit or Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit due to a long-term illness, you usually have to attend a face-to-face appointment to further assess your health problems. These have now been suspended and all assessments will be done over the phone. Visit the government website for more information.

DWP freeze on repaying benefit debt

The DWP are suspending repayments of all overpayments and social fund loans. Deductions from benefits, direct debits and direct earnings deductions will stop automatically. If you make repayments through a bank standing order or other voluntary method, you need to cancel these. It’s not confirmed yet if this will apply to third party deductions, but we understand that deductions of Universal Credit advances will continue.
  
Council tax support

English councils will get funding to allow them to increase the help they provide through the Local Council Tax Support Scheme. There shouldn’t be a need to make a separate claim for a reduction under this scheme and no requirement that you’ve been affected by coronavirus. The billing authority should assess who is eligible for support and automatically rebill those council taxpayers.

If you’re experiencing hardship you can also apply for a discretionary hardship reduction of your council tax under s13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

Claim Child Benefit by phone or post

HMRC is reminding new parents that they will still be able to claim Child Benefit despite the outbreak of coronavirus. Even though General Register Offices remain closed for now, parents can still claim Child Benefit without having to register their child’s birth first.

How can I pay my rent?

Even though our offices are closed you can still pay your rent by:

  • Logging into your My NCHA account and clicking on the AllPay tab
  • Calling us on 0800 013 8555
  • Calling AllPay, available 24 hours a day, on 0844 5578 321

I can't pay my rent, what should I do?

The most important thing to do if you’re struggling is to contact us and we’ll do what we can to help. If you can keep to any new or existing agreements, or existing court orders and continue to prioritise your rent our service to you won’t change. We have specialist advisors in our teams who can help you with these difficult situations, so please talk to us on 0800 013 8555.

If you’ve experienced any change to your income, visit the Entitled To and Turn 2 Us websites to see if you quality for additional help due to reduced income.

The Government have announced some additional measures to prevent tenants losing their homes during this crisis:

  • The Court Service will suspend all ongoing housing action. This means any cases currently in the court system or about to go into the system cannot progress to the stage where someone could be evicted. The suspension will initially last for 90 days but with an option to extend this period as necessary.
  • We have to give you three months’ notice if we intend to seek possession (i.e. serve notice that we want to end the tenancy). This means we can’t apply to start the court process until after this period. This will be in place until 30 September 2020 and both the end point, and the three month notice period can be extended if needed.