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Home Advice for Parents & CarersBenefits for carers of disabled adults Coronavirus (COVID-19) – What financial support is there for working families?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – What financial support is there for working families?

Last updated 2 June 2020

*PLEASE ALSO FOLLOW ANY GOVERNMENT GUIDANCE  AS GUIDANCE ON THE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) IS CHANGING DAILY*

This is a quick guide of benefits you might be able to claim if your income changes as a result of Coronavirus. 

You might also want to look at our other Coronavirus pages:

What can I claim when I am off work

I’m off work because I am self-isolating or shielding – what can I claim?

This guidance is only for employees. Have a look at the self-employment section if you are self-employed instead.

Sick Pay

You may be self-isolating or shielding because you’re extremely vulnerable, because you or someone in your household has coronavirus symptoms, or because you’ve been told to stay at home due to contact with a confirmed coronavirus case.

If you are off work because of one of the following reasons, you could get sick pay:

  1. you are shielding in accordance with official public health guidance because you are extremely vulnerable and are considered to be at higher risk to severe illness as a result of coronavirus, and you have been told to stay at home by the NHS, or
  2. you or someone else in your household has symptoms of coronavirus, or
  3. you’ve been contacted by an official source (eg the NHS) to tell you to stay at home due to contact with a confirmed coronavirus case,

You can claim:

  • Statutory Sick Pay: If you are an employee, and you normally earn £120 per week, you should be able to claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).  SSP is paid at £95.85/week from April 2020.
  • Company Sick Pay: Your employer may have a company sick pay scheme in place that pays you more than SSP. Have a look at what your contract says or check with your HR department.

If you are extremely vulnerable and have been told to shield via an official notification (eg from the NHS), you will be able to claim SSP from 16 April onwards. This can last only for the period you’ve been told to shield. You should also check to see if your employer will use the job retention scheme (furlough), as this is likely to be worth more than SSP (your employer can take you off SSP and put you on furlough if they agree to do so and you meet the conditions).

If you qualify for SSP because you’ve been told to stay at home due to having contact with a coronavirus case, this can only last for a maximum of 14 days. If you have to stay at home because you or someone you live with has coronavirus symptoms, you can also get SSP. If you develop symptoms yourself, your SSP could last for longer, depending on when you get ill. The NHS has created an online isolation note that you should fill in. 

Unfortunately, SSP won’t usually apply if you are trying to avoid the risk of coronavirus but no one in your household has symptoms and/or you have not been told you’re extremely vulnerable.  For example, you cannot get SSP just because you are practising social distancing as part of the general social distancing guidance  in England but you are not in the extremely vulnerable category. You also cannot get SSP just because you are looking after someone who is shielding, or you think you may have had contact with a coronavirus case but you haven’t been contacted to tell you to stay at home. 

You can get SSP if you are signed off by a doctor (a ‘fit note’) as usual, including if this is for the ongoing effects of coronavirus.

Contributory Employment and Support Allowance

If you are not entitled to SSP and have paid sufficient class 1 or class 2 national insurance contributions in the last 2 to 3 years you may be entitled to Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (CESA).  You may be able to get this if you or someone in your household has or recently had symptoms of coronavirus or if you are shielding after being told to do this by the NHS (this means you have had a letter or text telling you to stay at home for 12 weeks).

You may also be able to get this if you are self-isolating or caring for a child who is self-isolating (for example, because of contact with someone who might have coronavirus). Medical evidence isn’t needed, but the decision is at the discretion of the DWP. 

For most new claimants, contributory ESA is also called ‘new-style’ ESA. There is normally a seven day ‘waiting period’ for CESA, but for claimants affected by coronavirus the law now says that benefit can be paid from the first day, at the DWP’s discretion. Even if you discover you’re not entitled to contributory ESA, claiming can mean you get national insurance credits for limited capability for work. This could be important if you end up being off work for a long time. So it can be worth making what is called a ‘credits only’ claim.

Furlough

If you are an employee, it’s worth checking whether your employer will agree to use the job retention scheme (‘furlough’) job retention scheme (furlough) instead. You can make a new claim until 10 June. Furlough is likely to be much more favourable than sick pay.

See also below on the general benefits you can claim. 

What if I am already claiming benefits?

You may also get increased amounts of benefits you are already claiming. When your income is reduced , you may be able to get a higher rate of any income-related benefits you are already claiming. These include tax credits, income support, housing benefit, universal credit and employment and support allowance.

  • Universal Credit: If you’re claiming Universal Credit (UC), do not worry about attending the Jobcentre in person or being available for work. There are currently no requirements to attend the Jobcentre in person except in exceptional circumstances.  Any requirements to look for work or be available for work do not currently apply. The government has created some guidance to help people understand Universal Credit and any specific coronavirus rules. If you were getting a childcare element in your UC but childcare is no longer being provided, or you have stopped using or paying for childcare, you must tell them. Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) have a useful online tool about UC during coronavirus 

  • Housing Benefit: If you’re claiming Housing Benefit, you should ask your local authority to increase your entitlement while your income is reduced. Housing Benefit can be adjusted on a weekly basis.

  • Tax credits (working tax credits or child tax credit): If you’re claiming tax credits,  it may be possible to get more in tax credits if your annual income for the tax year is going to be at least £2,500 less than the previous year, but this may not help immediately. You should be careful when giving an income estimate for the current tax year. If the  estimate is too low and you are overpaid tax credit, you will have to pay it back. If you’re also on housing benefit and/or council tax reduction/support, make sure you tell the local authority if your tax credits change, as well as reporting other income changes.

  • Working Tax Credit can continue for the first 28 weeks you are off work if you are claiming SSP, ESA or national insurance credits for limited capability for work immediately after a period of working. You can also be treated as working for 28 weeks if you are self-employed and you would have got one of those benefits if you’d been an employee immediately before you had to stop working. Otherwise, your tax credits would usually stop (even if you’re still employed) after 4 weeks.

    Childcare and WTC: If you are not working enough hours for more than 4 weeks, you would usually stop getting the childcare element of WTC as this requires a certain number of hours of work. However, during the coronavirus pandemic, the law has changed if your hours of work reduce or stop due to coronavirus. You will be treated as working your usual hours, as long as you are still employed. We think this will last for as long as the job retention scheme (furlough) is available, even if you aren’t using the scheme. If childcare you get help with via Working Tax Credit stops, reduces or increases, you should tell HMRC.

    Changing hours after furlough and WTC: If you have been furloughed and this ends, you will continue to be treated as working your previous hours for up to eight weeks whilst you establish any new work pattern. If your new hours are not enough to get Working Tax Credit, you will be treated as working your previous hours for a further four weeks (so 12 weeks in total).

    If you have lost your job: If you stop being employed, you must tell HMRC, to avoid an overpayment. It’s also a good idea to tell them if you are going to be getting SSP/ESA or national insurance credits for limited capability for work. If you’re not sure what you will be getting, tell HMRC what you have applied for.

    Working Tax Credit is worth more in 20/21 due to the coronavirus, so if you are able to get it, you should see an increase. 

What if I’m not already claiming any benefits?

You may not have been claiming any benefits before the coronavirus outbreak, or you may have been getting Child Benefit only. 

Universal Credit: If your income goes down due to coronavirus, you may be able to claim Universal Credit (UC). If you have a partner, your eligibility for Universal Credit will take into account their earnings, too. The DWP have stated that an advance payment can be applied for without attending the jobcentre (see DWP statement). There are a number of circumstances in which you can’t get UC – one of these is if you and/or a partner you live with have over £16,000 in savings or other assets (not including your home).

The law now says that UC claimants do not have to look for work or be available for work. This applies from 30th March for three months.

Remember that if you claim UC, any existing benefits which it replaces will end. This includes tax credits and usually any housing benefit. You won’t be able to go back to these. Claiming UC for a short time may mean you lose out in the long run, so try to get advice.

And always check with a benefits calculator like entitledto.co.uk to see if there is anything else you can claim.

The government has created some guidance to help explain how universal credit will work during the coronavirus outbreak.

What can I claim now that my income has gone down

I’m already claiming benefits but my income has gone down – can I get more help?

While your income is reduced you may be able to get increased amounts of the income-related benefits you are already claiming. These include tax credits, income support, housing benefit, universal credit and employment and support allowance. You may also be able to make new claims for some benefits.  If you are off work because you are self-isolating, check the section on self-isolation above to see what you can claim. Your furlough wages are treated in exactly the same way as your normal wages for all benefits, but because your furlough wages are lower, you may be entitled to more help.

Jobseeker’s Allowance

If you have been paying Class 1 national insurance contributions, you may be able to claim contributory (‘new style’) Jobseeker’s Allowance or JSA. For the time being, and until the end of June, you don’t have to be available for work or actively seeking work. New style JSA doesn’t look at your savings or your partner’s income, and it is not a public fund, so you can also claim it if you can’t get other benefits due to your immigration status. You do not have to have left your employment to get JSA, but you must be either not working, or working under 16 hours a week. If you have part-time wages (including whilst you are on furlough), they will reduce your JSA. New style JSA is part of your income, so you must include it as part of your taxable income if you claim tax credits, and inform your local council about it if you get Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction. If you get Universal Credit, this should automatically take your JSA into account (JSA will reduce your Universal Credit so you don’t end up better off by claiming it if you also get UC).

Universal Credit

If you’re claiming Universal Credit (UC), the amount of UC you receive should go up if your income is reduced. Remember that if you start a claim for UC when you’re on existing benefits which it replaces, these will usually come to an end (including tax credits and usually housing benefit too), and you won’t be able to go back to them. Claiming UC for a short time may mean you lose out in the long run, so try to get advice. The amount of UC for adults has gone up (from April 2020) by around £20 a week, but this doesn’t prevent you losing out, depending on what benefits you were on before.

The government has created some guidance to help explain how Universal Credit and other benefits will work during the coronavirus outbreak. Child Poverty Action Group also have a useful tool about UC during coronavirus.

Housing Benefit

If you’re claiming Housing Benefit, you should ask your local authority to increase your entitlement while your income is reduced. Housing Benefit can be adjusted on a weekly basis. Make sure you tell them about any other benefits you get, too, including JSA or tax credits.

Tax Credits

If you’re claiming tax credits (working tax credit or child tax credit), it may be possible to get more in tax credits if your annual income for the tax year is going to be at least £2,500 less than the previous year. However, this probably won’t help immediately, and you should be careful not to give HMRC too low an estimate for the current tax year to avoid being overpaid (if you later realise you will earn  more, you should revise your estimate and let them know).

If you have lost your job because of COVID-19, your working tax credit will continue for a period of 4 weeks. It will continue for longer if you went from actually working immediately onto claiming SSP/ESA/national insurance credits for limited capability for work – see the section on self-isolation above.

You can continue claiming child tax credit even if you stop working. See the section on self-isolation above for more guidance on how your working tax credit could be affected if you are off work because of COVID-19 and you are still employed.

See the section on self-employment if you are still self-employed. Working Tax Credit is worth more in 20/21 due to coronavirus, so anyone already claiming this should see an increase.

You must tell HMRC if childcare you get help with in Working Tax Credit stops, reduces or increases.

Council tax reduction 

You should contact your local authority as you might get council tax reduction to help pay your council tax bill. Your local authority may also call this council tax support. If you get council tax reduction, make sure you tell the local authority about changes to your income (including other benefits and tax credits).

Local council support

Bear in mind that your local authority may also have a local welfare assistance scheme, so if you are having exceptional difficulties, so it’s always worth contacting them. In Scotland this is called the Scottish Welfare Fund, and in Wales, the Discretionary Assistance Fund. In Northern Ireland, various different schemes are available from the Finance Support Service.

Online benefits check: always check with a benefits calculator like entitledto.co.uk to see if you are not also entitled to any other benefits.

What can I claim if my income has gone down due to coronavirus? I’m not claiming any benefits.

Jobseeker’s Allowance 

If you have been paying Class 1 national insurance contributions, you may be able to claim contributory (‘new style’) Jobseeker’s Allowance or JSA.

For the time being, and until the end of June, you don’t have to be available for work or actively seeking work. New style JSA doesn’t look at your savings or your partner’s income, so it may be helpful if you can’t get UC, and it is not a public fund, so you can also claim it if you can’t get other benefits due to your immigration status. You do not have to have left your employment to get JSA, but you must be either not working, or working under 16 hours a week. If you have part-time wages (including if you are on furlough), they will reduce your JSA.

Universal Credit

If your income goes down due to coronavirus, you may be able to claim Universal Credit (UC). If you have a partner, your eligibility for Universal Credit will take into account their earnings, too. You can get an advance to help you during the approximate 5 week wait before your first payment, but this is repayable from your ongoing UC (if you stop being eligible for UC because your income increases again, you will still owe the DWP for the advance). The amount of UC for adults is going up by roughly £20 a week from April 2020. Part-time wages, including for example the wages you get whilst you are on furlough, affect your UC in exactly the same way as other earnings.

The government has created some guidance to help explain how Universal Credit will work during the coronavirus outbreak. CPAG have a useful tool about Universal Credit during the coronavirus outbreak.

Child Benefit

If you’re not currently getting Child Benefit due to the high income tax charge, you can ask HMRC to start getting it (but bear in mind you will have to pay the charge if your income for the tax year ends up being too high).

Council tax reduction 

You should contact your local authority as you might get council tax reduction to help pay your council tax bill. Your local authority may call this council tax support. If you get this, make sure you tell your local authority about any changes to your income, including any other benefits you get. Depending on where you live, if you get council tax reduction your council tax bill may be reduced further in 2020/21. You don’t need to apply for this separately, but it makes it even more important to claim council tax reduction even if you’re not entitled to very much help now.

Local council support

Bear in mind that your local authority may also have a local welfare assistance scheme. If you are having exceptional difficulties it’s always worth contacting them to check. In Scotland this is called the Scottish Welfare Fund, in Wales, the Discretionary Assistance Fund, and in Northern Ireland, Discretionary Support from the Finance Support Service. Northern Ireland also has a specific Universal Credit contingency fund for people who have difficulties when they move to UC.

Online benefits check: always check with a benefits calculator like entitledto.co.uk to see if there is anything else you can claim.

I’m self-employed, what can I claim?

I’m self-employed but I can’t work because of coronavirus – what can I claim?

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

If you’re self-employed but your income from work is reduced or has completely stopped due to coronavirus, then there may be some help available, based on 80% of your average profits over a past period, up to a maximum of £2,500, and covering a three month period (this is the first grant payment available under this scheme). You may be able to apply if at least half of your income is from self-employment. Self-employment for tax purposes means no one is responsible for paying Class 1 national insurance for you, even if you earned enough. You’ll also need to have carried out a self-employed trade in 2018-19 and 2019-20, and intend to continue to trade in 2020-21. Your business must have been adversely affected by coronavirus. You will need to have submitted a tax return for 2016-17, 2017-18 or 2018-19 on or before 23rd April 2020 (the guidance says the tax return must be for 2018-19).

If you’re eligible for the scheme, HMRC should have contacted you by mid May. However, it is always worth checking yourself whether you are eligible. More information is available on the Gov.UK website. You must make a claim for this first grant payment by 13th July 2020.

In addition to the first grant payment, there will be a second grant payment worth 70% of average profits, and capped at £6750 in respect of a three month period. You will need to meet the same conditions, but you don’t have to have applied for the first grant to qualify. You won’t be able to apply for this second grant (the final one under this scheme) until August 2020.

The grant will be taxable, and taken into account as part of your earned income for tax credits, Universal Credit and other benefits. It won’t be taken into account for a past period, only from when you receive it. You are allowed to carry forward self-employed losses from previous months on UC to set against the grant. However, in some cases it may still be so high that it will take you off UC for the month you get the grant. You’ll be treated as making a new claim after that so that you’ll get UC again once you qualify (but some of the grant may be taken into account in later months if it is very high). If you don’t want to be treated as making a new claim (perhaps because your self-employment has started to make money again and you know you won’t be entitled), make sure you tell the DWP.

Newly Self-employed Hardship Fund in Scotland

If you live in Scotland, you are not eligible for the Self-Employed Income Support scheme or other support for business, you are not receiving Universal Credit or certain other benefits, and you do not have sufficient savings or income for basic needs, you might be eligible for the Newly Self-employed Hardship Fund in Scotland. This is aimed at people living in Scotland who became self-employed on or after 6 April 2019 and can’t get help elsewhere.

Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance 

You cannot claim SSP if you’re not an employee. Check whether you pay yourself a wage and have Class 1 national insurance deducted through PAYE though, as this makes you an employee for benefits purposes. If you are self-employed, you may be able to claim Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance (CESA). For most people, this will be New style ESA.

You are eligible for Employment and Support Allowance if you are not able to work because you have ‘limited capability for work’ and you have paid enough Class 2 National Insurance contributions (if you’re self-employed) in the last 2 to 3 years.

You can be treated as having ‘limited capability for work’ if you actually have coronavirus or have been contaminated, or you are ‘self-isolating’. This includes:

  • You have coronavirus symptoms or are self-isolating because someone in your household has or has had symptoms, or you are looking after a child in these situations, or
  • You or a child you care for are self-isolating because you have had contact with someone who might have coronavirus, or
  • You are extremely vulnerable and are considered to be at higher risk to severe illness as a result of coronavirus, and you are shielding after being told to do so by the NHS (this means you’ve had a letter or text telling you to stay at home for 12 weeks).

If you have been getting housing benefit, income support or income-based jobseeker’s allowance (or you got these recently) and you also get benefits because you are disabled, new style ESA may not apply to you; instead ‘old style’ ESA may apply (this can be contributory or income-related).

There is normally a seven day ‘waiting period’ for CESA, but for claimants affected by coronavirus (for example, shielding, self-isolating or looking after a child who is self-isolating) the law now says that this benefit should be payable from the first day at the DWP’s discretion.

Even if you discover you’re not entitled to receive any money, claiming ESA can mean you get national insurance credits for limited capability for work (these could be important if you end up being off work for a long time). So it can be worth making what is called a ‘credits only’ claim.

If you’re not covered by any of the categories of people who can get ESA, but you are not currently working, you should check to see if you can get contributory (‘new style’) Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). However, this will only apply if you have been paying yourself a wage with Class 1 national insurance deducted, or if you were employed in that way (perhaps by an employer) in the two tax years which will be used to assess your claim (2017-18 and 2018-19).

Universal Credit

If you are already claiming Universal Credit (UC), the amount you receive should go up while your income is reduced. There is normally a minimum income floor rule which can treat you as earning more than you actually are when you are self-employed. This may not apply during the coronavirus crisis, but this decision is up to the DWP and will depend on all the circumstances. However, it is likely that the minimum income floor won’t be applied if you are currently unable to get work in your self-employment. If you have been getting the childcare element of Universal Credit, you must tell them if childcare stops being provided or you stop using or paying for it. Child Poverty Action Group have a useful online tool about UC during coronavirus.

New Claims for Universal Credit

You can also make a new claim for UC, but remember that if you claim UC, any existing benefits which it replaces will end (including any tax credits, and usually housing benefit), and you won’t be able to go back to these. Claiming UC for a short time may mean you lose out in the long run, so try to get advice. The amount of UC for adults is going up by about £20 a week from April 2020, but you can still lose out if you move to it from existing benefits, depending on what you were claiming before (in addition you may not see the increased amounts in your UC until May, because of the way the benefit works). However, if you and any partner you live with are not currently claiming anything (or you only claim Child Benefit) you will not lose out by claiming UC.  There is help with eligible childcare costs from UC but only if you, and usually any partner you live with, are working, and only if the childcare is actually available.

The government has created some guidance to help explain how UC will work during the coronavirus outbreak.

What about tax credits?

If you’re claiming tax credits (working tax credit or child tax credit), it may be possible to get more in tax credits if your annual income for the tax year is going to be at least £2,500 less than the previous year. You should be careful when giving an income estimate for the current tax year as if this is too low and you are overpaid tax credit, you will have to pay it back. If you’re also on housing benefit and/or council tax reduction/support, make sure you tell the local authority if your tax credits change.

Most people can’t make new claims for tax credits.

Working tax credit

WTC can continue for the first 28 weeks you are off work if you are self-employed and you:

a. are claiming ESA, or
b. you would have been able to claim SSP or ESA save for the fact that you are not an employee.

If neither (a) nor (b) apply to you, your tax credits would usually stop after 4 weeks. If you are not working enough hours for more than 4 weeks, you would also usually stop getting the childcare element of WTC as this requires a certain number of hours of work. However, at the moment,  HMRC will treat you as working the hours you normally work, as long as your self-employment is continuing. The law says this should apply if your hours are reduced due to coronavirus (for example because your self-employment can’t currently operate, or you are shielding). More information is here. If you stop your self-employment though, you must tell HMRC to avoid an overpayment, and explain how long this is likely to last and whether you’ll be getting ESA or national insurance credits for limited capability for work. If you’re not sure, tell HMRC what you have applied for.

You should always tell HMRC if the childcare you get help with through Working Tax Credit stops, reduces or increases.

The basic element of WTC is increasing in April 2020; this will only apply if you work enough hours to get WTC or can be treated as working.

Council tax reduction, housing benefit and local council support

See Claiming Benefits or Not Claiming Benefits above for guidance on these benefits and other financial support. And remember to check with a benefits calculator like entitledto.co.uk to see what else you could be eligible for.

Can my children still get free school meals?

I used to get free school meals for my children but now the schools are shut – what can I do?

If your child’s school is shut, or your child cannot attend at the moment because:

  • they are not deemed to be ‘vulnerable’ (children with EHC plans can continue attending school) or
  • you and/or your partner are not designated as key workers,

then there should be a replacement for any free school meals your children were getting. You can ask the school or your local council what arrangements they are making instead. Guidance for schools in England says vouchers must be provided if the school cannot provide meals or food parcels (see also here). In N Ireland, direct payments should be made. In Wales and Scotland, the local council and school will make arrangements. Wales have also committed to continue free school meals provision over the summer holidays in 2020.

The school should make sure that something is provided. This might be meals you collect from school, or which are delivered to you (for example, if you and your family have to self-isolate). Alternatively, the school may provide vouchers for supermarkets (by email or gift card). You can get in touch with the school to find out what they are doing. You can read the guidance to schools in England here.

If you don’t normally get free school meals because your immigration status prevents you claiming benefits (for example, because your leave to remain in the UK has a ‘no recourse to public funds’ condition), then you can get free school meals in England during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Furlough

My employer has said they cannot afford to keep paying me, is there financial support to help them continue to pay my wages?

If your employer cannot afford to keep paying you during this time (for example because they have had to shut their business), then instead of having to lay off staff, they can apply to the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme to cover 80% of their employees’ wages (to a max of £2,500 per month). This means your employer would put you on furlough (a period where you don’t do any work for them) and will be able to continue to pay you 80% of your earnings. Read our page on furlough for more information. If your employer is not sure if it applies or needs more information, then you should point them to the government guidance. Bear in mind that the furlough scheme is now closing to new applicants – the latest you can start your first period of furlough is 10 June.

If you need further financial support because your income has gone down, have a look at the sections of this guide (above) which give guidance on financial support if your income goes down, depending on whether or not you are already claiming benefits. Your furlough wages are treated in exactly the same way as your normal wages for all benefits, but because your furlough wages are lower, you may be entitled to more help.

If you are expecting a baby or adopting, then your eligibility for maternity (SMP), paternity (SPP), adoption (SAP) or shared parental pay (ShPP) might be worked out differently to usual. Read also our page for new and expectant parents for information on how being off work or on furlough might impact your eligibility for maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental pay.

Other resources

I’m struggling to pay my bills and afford food – what other help is available?

You should first check that you are getting all the benefits you are entitled to (see If You Are Claiming Benefits and If You Are NOT Claiming Benefits above).

If you were getting free school meals but now your children are not going to school, ask the school or your local council what arrangements they are making instead. Guidance for schools in England says vouchers must be provided if the school cannot provide meals or food parcels. In N Ireland, direct payments should be made. In Wales and Scotland, the local council and school will make arrangements. In England, you may be able to get this help even if you can’t normally do so because of your immigration status.

In Wales only, the funding for their free childcare offer for working parents has been diverted to help with the provision of registered childcare for critical workers and vulnerable children. You should ask your local council if you think this might apply to you.

If you already get Housing Benefit or your Universal Credit calculation includes a housing element, but you still need help to pay your rent, you can apply to your local council for extra help they might be able to give you, called a discretionary housing payment. If you are worried about rent arrears, there is more information available from Shelter here.

Your local council may have an emergency welfare assistance scheme offering support if you have no money or unexpected expenses, but in England, not all councils offer this, so you will need to check with your local authority.  In Wales, the discretionary assistance fund can help with some expenses. In Northern Ireland, there is a discretionary fund which may offer help in certain circumstances. In Scotland, you can apply (via your local council) to the Scottish Welfare Fund.

You should contact your gas or electricity company if you are struggling to pay or top up your meter. If you cannot pay your water rates, you should contact your water company.

There is more information from Citizens Advice

If you have problems with other payments, such as credit cards, a mortgage, car finance payments and other debts, the Money Advice Service information may help.

If you live in London and are a frontline key worker or vulnerable, you might be eligible to meals that are provided and delivered by Compassion London. Check their website for more details and to apply to the scheme.

Where can I go for more help?

To find out what government schemes will help if work has been affected by Covid-19, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) have created a decision tree to help you navigate what you may be entitled to, including whether you are eligible to be furloughed.

The Money Advice Service has comprehensive advice on different aspects of the coronavirus crisis and your finances.


This advice applies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Where it refers to public health guidance, we have linked to that for England: you should check the guidance for your part of the UK. If you live outside England, Wales, Scotland or N Ireland, the law may differ. Please call our helpline for more details.

If you have further questions and would like to contact our advice team please use our advice contact form below or call us.

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