helpline 01494 601 400
3 April 2020

Covid-19 Housing and Financial Support

At Epilepsy Society we understand that coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed many people’s way of life and many people are anxious about issues this change will cause and how they will access vital services.

Since 23rd March 2020 the UK Government has asked people to remain at home and to only leave their home for the following reasons:

  • Shopping for basic necessities such as food and medicine
  • One form of exercise a day alone or with people you live with
  • Medical need, including donating blood
  • Avoid risk of injury or harm
  • To provide care for a vulnerable person
  • Work but only where you cannot work from home

The Government will review the situation in mid-April and may adapt or change their advice. You can find the latest Government advice here: gov.uk/coronavirus

If you have a medical condition which makes you extremely vulnerable to coronavirus (COVID-19), you can register and tell the Government whether you need support. You can register yourself or on behalf of someone else here: gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable

Benefits

All assessment centres have been closed since 23rd March to protect staff and those attending the centres. However, all assessments have now moved to a telephone assessment service. If you have a review or an assessment conducted over the telephone, you are still allowed a companion. If you would like a companion on the assessment call who does not live in your household at your review or assessment, then arrangements can be made for them to dial in to the call.

If you have an assessment booked, you do not need to go to it at the moment because of coronavirus (COVID-19). The Department for Work and Pensions will contact you to let you know what you need to do instead.

If your employer has told you not to work, you might be able to keep getting paid. You should check if your employer can pay 80% of your wages and claim it back from the government. You may also be able to claim benefits or get more money on your current benefits. 

This might be because you: 

  • Can’t work as you have coronavirus or you’re following guidance to stay home or ‘self-isolating’ 
  • Are earning less because you can’t go to work 
  • Are self-employed and you’re earning less 
  • Have lost your job

Important changes to assessments and claims:

  • All reviews that weren’t already scheduled have been paused for three months but appointments which were already scheduled will continue over the phone.
  • New claims or where a change in circumstances has been identified will have assessments conducted over the phone.
  • New claims can be made online, by telephone, textphone or by post.
  • In line with current policies, calls will not be recorded.

You can find out more about benefits and financial help available to you here: Citizens Advice Coronavirus and Benefits

Employment and Sickness

If you become ill and meaning that you need to take time off work, you can get a sick note online:

NHS 111 website isolation note

NHS app

If you cannot work because of coronavirus or another illness, you could be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay. To be eligible you must self-isolate or have been off work for at least 4 days in a row. Statutory Sick Pay is paid to your employer for up to 28 weeks and is £94.25 per week. You can get more if your company has a sick pay scheme or ‘occupational scheme’, make sure to check your employment contract.

Housing, Bills, and Utilities

If you are struggling to pay your rent, bills or mortgage because of coronavirus it is important that you do not ignore your bills but you speak with your landlord, local council, housing association, mortgage provider or the organisation you owe money to. Many organisations and banks have ways to help you during this difficult time so it is important that you speak with them.

The Government has made a temporary change to the law about evictions. All court action to evict tenants has been postponed for 3 months since 27th March 2020. If your landlord gives you an eviction notice after 26 March 2020 the notice has to be increased to 3 months for these tenancy types:

  • Assured tenancy
  • Assured shorthold tenancy
  • Protected tenancy
  • Secure tenancy
  • Flexible tenancy
  • Demoted tenancy
  • Introductory tenancy

Your landlord doesn’t have to give you extra notice if you have a different tenancy type or you rent a room in the landlord’s home.

Find out more about rent, bills, and mortgages visit: Citizens Advice - If you can't pay your bills