The Government will provide extra resources to tackle COVID-19. This includes a COVID-19 Response Fund, to fund pressures in the NHS, support local authorities to manage pressures on social care and support vulnerable people, and to help deal with pressures on other public services. The size of the fund will be reviewed as the situation develops, to ensure all necessary resources are made available.
As part of the government’s emergency legislation measures, Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be paid from day one of sickness to support those affected by COVID-19. This will be a temporary measure to respond to the outbreak and will lapse when it is no longer required.
Individuals employed on zero-hour contracts may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay if their average earnings are at least £118 per week (calculated over an 8-week period). However, those who are ineligible are able to claim Universal Credit and/or contributory Employment and Support Allowance depending on their personal circumstances.
The Government will also bring forward legislation to allow small- and medium-sized businesses to reclaim SSP paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19.
From Friday, schools will be closed for the vast majority of pupils until further notice. In order to allow health and critical workers to continue working, their children, and those who are vulnerable, will continue to attend school.
The Government will support pupils eligible for free school meals. Children eligible for free school meals will be offered meals or vouchers as an alternative if they can no longer attend school due to coronavirus measures.
The Government is increasing our testing capacity to 25,000 hospital patients a day. The Prime Minister and Health Secretary have promised industry leaders that they would be given whatever support they need to help government increase testing capabilities across the country. The increased capacity is expected to be ready within 4 weeks, with highest-priority cases being tested first.
Support for Renters & Landlords
No renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time.
The Government are introducing emergency legislation so that no renters in private or social accommodation need to be concerned about the threat of eviction. The legislation will be taken forward as an urgent priority so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period. The three-month mortgage payment holiday announced yesterday will be extended to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties due to coronavirus, alleviating pressure on both landlords and tenants.
As a result of these measures, no renters in private or social accommodation needs to be concerned about the threat of eviction. There will be a moratorium on all new evictions and clear guidance has been issued stating that existing eviction processes should be dealt with appropriately, prioritising the safety and health of citizens across the country.
To support this announcement the government has worked with the Master of the Rolls to widen the ‘pre-action protocol’ on possession proceedings, to include private renters and to strengthen its remit. This will support the necessary engagement between landlords and tenants to resolve disputes and landlords will have to reach out to tenants to understand the financial position they are in.
Recognising the additional pressures the virus may put on landlords, we have also confirmed that the three-month mortgage payment holiday announced previously will be extended to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties due to coronavirus. This will alleviate the pressure on landlords, who will be concerned about meeting mortgage payments themselves, and will mean no unnecessary pressure is put on their tenants as a result.
Support for Rough Sleepers
The Government is ensuring we take every step necessary to protect and support the most vulnerable. That is why we have allocated £3.2 million of initial emergency funding to support rough sleepers if they need to self-isolate to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This funding will be available to all local authorities in England and will reimburse them for the cost of providing accommodation and services to those sleeping on the streets to help them successfully self-isolate.
Support for Councils on Adult Social Care
Local authorities are already playing a vital role in supporting our communities and the government has announced an additional £1.6bn funding to support local authorities in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding will help alleviate the pressures local authorities are facing across services. This should enable them to do the following:
• Meet the increased demand for adult social care and enable councils to provide additional support to social care providers;
• CCGs will separately be funding additional costs of discharging and keeping people out of hospital, including social care costs – commissioned by the local authority unless existing local arrangements suggest otherwise;
• Meet the extra demand and higher business-as-usual costs of providing children’s social care – including as a result of school closures and the increased need for accommodation to address the need for isolation, including for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children;
• Provide additional support for the homeless and rough sleepers – including where self-isolation is needed;
• Support those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 – who may soon be asked to self-isolate in their homes for the duration of the pandemic;
• Meet pressures across other service – as a result of reduced income, rising costs or increased demand.
What financial support can I get?
The Government have made a number of changes to benefits and sick pay and will likely take more steps over the coming days and weeks. The following two organisations provide detailed support and advice about your money in light of coronavirus and new government measures.
- This up-to-date guide from the Money Advice Service is easy to follow and filled with good advice about sick pay and changes to claiming your benefits during this challenging time.
- The advice and benefits and grants calculators at Turn2Us are useful to get support if the coronavirus has had a negative impact on your finances.
Can I claim sick pay?
Will my employer be obliged to pay me while I stay at home?
Statutory Sick Pay will be paid from day 1 instead of day 4 for those affected by the virus.
What if I have a 'zero hours' contract?
You may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay. Check with your employer in the first instance and if you're not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, you may be able to apply for Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) .
What if I’m self-employed?
You can apply for Universal Credit - the Government have changed certain rules governing this benefit during the coronavirus period.
What if the whole family has to stay at home so we have no income?
If no one is getting Statutory Sick Pay, the family can apply for Universal Credit - the Government have changed certain rules governing this benefit during the coronavirus period.
I'm worried about paying my tax - is there any help?
Yes - there are 2000 staff supporting a COVID-19 dedicated helpline for businesses and self-employed being run by HMRC Monday-Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday 8am-4pm - 0800 0159 559 who will discuss possible remedies such as:
- agreeing an instalment arrangment
- suspending debt collection proceedings
- cancelling penalties and interest