Rent and financial support during the pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has made life very difficult for some people. This page details the support that is available to help with rent payments and other financial worries. You can also download a detailed PDF of this information.
Statutory Sick Pay
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) now covers people who are ill with coronavirus, people who have to self-isolate (with or without symptoms) and people caring for those self-isolating in the same household.
If you’re not entitled to SSP or your SSP entitlement has run out, you might be entitled to New Style Employment and Support Allowance if you have worked and paid enough National Insurance contributions, usually in the last two complete tax years.
Staying on tax credits - employed people
You can continue to be entitled to tax credits if you’re absent from work due to infection or self-isolation, or are caring for a child who's infected or in isolation, and you are:
- getting SSP as an employee.
- self-employed and would otherwise have qualified for SSP.
- getting Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
- getting credits on your National Insurance record for limited capability for work.
HMRC has told claimants not to update working hours if they're working less due to the coronavirus. It’s treating this as a temporary exceptional change and has said Working Tax Credits will not go down because you’re working less.
Guidance for self-employed people
Self-employed people with reduced or no income can claim Universal Credit and/or New Style/Contribution-based ESA. Although they’re not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay they can claim Universal Credit and/or New Style (Contribution-based ESA) if they’re too sick to work or having to self-isolate due to coronavirus.
Contact HMRC's helpline for businesses on 0300 456 3565 for support.
Staying on tax credits
If you’re self-employed, you remain entitled to Working Tax Credits as long as you continue to meet the definition of self-employed as ‘organised and regular, on a commercial basis, with a view to making a profit’ and you continue to put in sufficient hours.
The minimum income floor (MIF)
If you’re self-employed and receive Universal Credit, the DWP usually assume a minimum income from your earnings. This is whether or not you actually receive this amount. This is called the minimum income floor, based on the national minimum wage for your age group. It’s also based on the total hours you agreed to work when you discussed your conditionality agreement and claimant commitment.
The suspension of the MIF ended from 1 August 2021. However, there will be some discretion allowed for claimants whose earnings are adversely affected by the pandemic. This will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
Guidance for those currently claiming benefits or in need of financial support
Universal Credit and Jobcentres
The £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit ends from 1 October 2021. For new or existing claims for Universal Credit if the Monthly Assessment Period (MAP) for that claim falls on or after 6 October 2021, the amount received will be reduce back to pre-covid levels. This equates to a drop of £87 per month. A single person aged 25 or over will see their personal standard allowance reduce from £411.51 per month to £324.84 per month. For a couple aged 25 or over this will reduce from £596.58 to £509.91 per month.
Household support fund
There’s a new £500m fund to support vulnerable households who are struggling to pay for essentials such as food, clothing and utilities. The new fund will run over winter and those in need of support should contact their local council for help.
New-style Employment and Support Allowance (also known as Contribution-based Employment Support Allowance)
New-style ESA now covers people who are ill, people who are self-isolating and people caring for a child who is ill or self-isolating. Until coronavirus many people didn't get New-style ESA until the eighth day of illness. These waiting days have now been suspended.
The DWP are introducing Claimant Commitments (CCs) and Action Plans (APs) for all ESA claimants in a phased approach. Work coaches continue to work with claimants to ensure that CCs and APs are reasonable and tailored for their circumstances. This allows people to continue to adhere to coronavirus guidance, whilst considering how they can move closer to getting work.
For all new claims to New Style ESA, processed from 26 April 2021, claimants will be required to have an appointment with a work coach and agree a CC. For claims processed prior to 26 April 2021, the requirement for an agreed CC will be introduced from 28 June 2021. This also applies to ESA legacy claimants who need an AP.
End to suspension of face-to-face assessments for sickness and disability benefits
Face-to-face assessments have started to resume for PIP and work capability assessments for Universal Credit and ESA. People will be invited for their assessment by letter, which will set out what to expect during the appointment.
Face-to-face assessments will take place alongside existing paper-based and telephone assessments and telephone assessments, which will continue where suitable.
The previous increase to Working Tax Credits has stopped and a one off £500 payment was made to eligible claimants in April 2021. The increase to the additional earnings disregard in housing benefit, in line with the in Working Tax Credit increase has also stopped.
If your work has permanently stopped, or your hours have permanently decreased below the qualifying limit there is a four-week run-on period for Working Tax Credit. If you don’t find new work in this time, your Working Tax Credit will be stopped.
NHS Test and Trace support payment
Everyone is required by law to self-isolate to help stop the spread of coronavirus. This applies to people who have coronavirus, people who are experiencing symptoms or those contacted by the NHS Test and Trace system.
This is supported by a Test and Trace support payment of £500 for people on a lower income who can’t work from home and have lost income as a result.
To be eligible for the payment, you must:
- have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace due to having coronavirus or having been in close contact with someone who does.
- be employed or self-employed.
- be unable to work from home and will lose income as a result.
- be currently receiving Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit.
- not be able to work from home and will lose income by self-isolating or staying at home to care for a child.
Local authorities are working to set up these self-isolation support schemes. Those who start to self-isolate from 28 September 2020 will receive backdated payments once the scheme is set up in their area.
If you do not fulfil the above criteria, you could be eligible for a £500 discretionary support payment. The discretionary payment is not conditional on you receiving the benefits mentioned for the standard scheme. However, you do have to show that you're experiencing financial hardship.
Claim Child Benefit by phone or post
HMRC is reminding new parents that they’ll still be able to claim Child Benefit despite coronavirus. Even though many General Register Offices remain closed for now, parents can still claim Child Benefit without having to register their child’s birth first.
Paying your rent
Even though our offices are closed, you can still pay your rent online or over the phone.
If you're struggling to pay your rent, talk to us - 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 contact us.
Some of the additional measures, to prevent customers’ losing their homes during the pandemic, are starting to ease:
- In relation to possession claims, we can apply to court to have a date listed for the case to be heard. This is almost back to pre-coronavirus times. There will be a first hearing listed (a review hearing). During this, the judge will assess any paperwork to see if an order can be given on the information provided. If not, a substantive hearing will be listed. This is a hearing where NCHA and the customer will attend, before the judge decides on giving an order for possession.
- The court service will still ensure that all defendants have support available. This information will be sent out with court details and can also be requested from your income officer.
- From 1 October 2021 the process around a notice of seeking possession will revert back to pre-covid times. This means that the notice may be served if you’ve got rent arrears. It will give a minimum of two weeks’ notice before legal action goes ahead. If a notice of seeking possession is served, you will not automatically proceed for further action against your rent account. If you’re working with us to reduce your debt, we’ll offer advice and continue to monitor your account.
- The suspension to evictions ended from 1 June 2021. Applications to evict are now being processed and being listed for a date when the warrant will be executed.
HMRC have updated their contact details to ensure those needing help and support can keep reaching their advisers. Visit www.gov.uk/contact-hmrc for up to date contact details relating to different queries.