If you are worried about your job, please read the following information:
- For the first time in history, the UK government has stepped in to help pay people’s wages – paying grants to support as many jobs as necessary. 736,500 jobs in Scotland have been protected in this way.
- The Job Retention Scheme (furlough) has been extended until the end of March 2021. Furloughed employees will continue to receive 80 per cent of their normal salary up to a maximum of £2,500. Employers will only have to pay employee National Insurance and pension contributions as part of the scheme. The UK Government will review the employer contribution in January.
- Further information on the Job Retention Scheme can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.
If you are looking for work, please read the following information:
- If you are aged between 16 and 24, you may soon be able to find a new job thanks to the UK Government Kickstart Scheme. The UK Government is asking businesses to offer 6-month work placements to out of work young people and in return the UK Government will pay their salaries and national insurance contributions. The scheme is now open for applications. Further information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/kickstart-scheme.
- The UK Government is doubling the number of work coaches at job centres to get as many people back into work as possible. And a new website has been launched to advertise thousands of critical jobs across the UK: https://jobhelp.dwp.gov.uk/.
If you think you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), please read the following information:
- You can get £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re too ill to work. It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.
- If you are self-isolating because of COVID-19, you can now claim SSP. This includes individuals who are caring for people self-isolating in the same household and therefore have been advised to do a household quarantine. To check your sick pay entitlement, you should talk to your employer, and visit https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay for more information.
- How soon does SSP apply? The UK Government has legislated for SSP to be paid from day 1, rather than day 4, of your absence from work if you are absent from work due to sickness or need to self-isolate caused by COVID-19. You should talk to your employer if you are eligible for SSP and need to claim.
- Do I need a sick note? Those who have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate are able to obtain an ‘isolation note’ at https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note, rather than visiting a doctor. For COVID-19 cases this replaces the usual need to provide a ‘fit note’ after seven days of sickness absence. Isolation notes will be accepted by Jobcentre Plus as evidence of your inability to attend.
If you need to self-isolate, please read the following information:
- You may be eligible for a £500 grant if you are on a low income or in financial hardship. The new Self-Isolation Support Grant will help those who would lose income if they needed to self-isolate, such as those unable to carry out their work from home. It is targeted at people who are in receipt of Universal Credit or the benefits which Universal Credit replaces, with some discretion to make awards to others in financial hardship. Applications are now open and it will be administered by your local council. You can find their contact details here: https://www.mygov.scot/find-your-local-council/.
If you are self-employed, please read the following information:
- The UK Government’s Self-Employed Income Support Scheme helps people who work for themselves get the financial support they need. The UK Government is paying self-employed people across the whole UK who have been adversely affected by coronavirus a grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profit, up to £2,500.
- The scheme has been extended by the UK Government for another six months. You will be able to apply for a third grant worth up to 80 per cent of your average monthly trading profits from November 2020 to January 2021. This means you will be able to claim up to £7,500. The UK Government will review the amount on offer for the fourth grant and this will be announced in due course..
- Further information and the application form is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/self-employment-income-support-scheme-grant-extension.
- The scheme is open to those with trading profits up to £50,000, meaning 95 per cent of people who are majority self-employed are eligible for the scheme. HMRC will also ask people to demonstrate that the majority of their income is from self-employment, and, to minimise fraud, only those who are already in self-employment, and who have a tax return for 2019, will be able to apply.
- The UK Government have also deferred income tax self-assessment payments and enhanced the Time to Pay service. To help self-employed people, income tax self-assessment payments for July 2020 were deferred until the end of January 2021. And taxpayers with up to £30,000 of Self-Assessment liabilities due will be able to use HMRC’s self-service Time to Pay facility to secure a plan to pay over an additional 12 months. This means that Self-Assessment liabilities due in July 2020 will not need to be paid in full until January 2022.
If you think you may be eligible for Universal Credit, please read the following information:
- You can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit (UC) or new style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). For more information on how to claim, please visit https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit and https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-style-employment-and-support-allowance. You will now be able to claim online and access advance payments upfront without needing to attend a Jobcentre Plus.
- The minimum income floor on Universal Credit has been suspended for 12 months. This means self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate that is equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees. If self-employed claimants’ work, and therefore earnings, have significantly reduced due to the impact of COVID-19 guidance on self-isolation and social distancing, and the wider economic impacts of the outbreak, their Universal Credit award will increase to reflect their lower earnings.
- If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate.
- The UK Government have increased Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by over £1,000 a year. The Universal Credit standard allowance will increase by £86.67 per month (equivalent to £20 per week), on top of the planned annual uprating. Together these measures are estimated to benefit over 4 million of the most vulnerable households.
- You no longer need to phone the DWP as part of your Universal Credit claim. New changes mean that if there is information that needs to be verified as part of your claim, the Department for Work and Pensions will phone you instead. This will mean you do not face long waits on the phone trying to get through to a member of staff.
If you think you may need financial support from your local council, please read the following information:
- The ‘Scottish Welfare Fund’ has received additional funding to provide crisis grants for those in financial emergency. Details on how to apply via your local authority can be found at https://www.mygov.scot/scottish-welfare-fund/apply-or-track-your-application/.
- The council tax reduction scheme has received additional funding. To find out if you are eligible please visit https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/scotland/benefits/help-if-on-a-low-income/help-with-your-council-tax-council-tax-reduction-s/. Details on how to apply for a council tax reduction via your local authority can be found at https://www.mygov.scot/council-tax/discounts-exemptions-and-reductions/.
- A ‘Food Fund’ has been set up to support households who may be worried about accessing food - whether due to an income drop or self-isolation. Local councils are free to deploy this funding as they see fit, so questions about how to access funding are best directed to them in the first instance. You can find their contact details at https://www.mygov.scot/find-your-local-council/.
If you are experiencing financial difficulties meeting your mortgage repayments, please read the following information:
- The UK Government has agreed with mortgage lenders that they will extend ‘repayment holidays’ to up to 6 months for households in financial difficulty due to COVID-19. This will also apply to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19.
- The offer of a payment holiday can be made available to customers who are up to date with payments and not already in arrears.
- Customers who are concerned about their current financial situation should contact their lender at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss if this is a suitable option for them. The application period has been extended.
- A fund has been launched to provide interest-free loans to landlords for lost rental income on a single property. You can apply at https://covidlandlordloan.est.org.uk/.
If you are experiencing financial difficulties paying your rent, please read the following information:
- You should not face the threat of eviction until March 2021. New legislation protects renters from being evicted if they fall into rent arrears as a result of coronavirus.
- The UK Government have announced that from this April, all new and existing private renters claiming Universal Credit and Housing Benefit will benefit from additional housing support. All Local Housing Allowance rates will be uplifted - worth an extra £14 a week on average for existing claimants and any additional Universal Credit claimants who rent in the private sector.
- New legislation means students should able to exit their purpose-built student accommodation contracts early. This means that students currently tied into a student accommodation contract, and who may have returned home due to coronavirus, should be able to exit that lease with a seven-day notice period.
- If you are experiencing issues paying your rent, please tell your landlord as soon as you can. We need landlords to help their tenants as part of society’s overall response. We cannot have people put at risk of homelessness at this difficult time.
If you are experiencing financial difficulties paying your energy bill, please read the following information:
- An agreement between the UK Government and energy suppliers means customers who are unable to top up their meter or can’t afford to pay their bills should get support from their supplier. You are advised to contact your energy supplier immediately to discuss how you can be kept on supply.
- If you are a pre-payment or pay as you go customer who cannot leave your home, your provider should help you stay supplied. This could mean someone else can be sent to top up your card, a pre-loaded gas or electricity card is sent in the post, or funds are added to your credit.
- Disconnection of credit meters should be completely suspended. If you are in financial distress, you may also be able to have your debts or bill payments reassessed, paused or reduced where needed.
- Further information about getting help with your energy bill is available at https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/consumers/household-gas-and-electricity-guide/extra-help-energy-services
If you are experiencing difficulties paying back personal loans or credit card bills, please read the following information:
- The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have called on lenders to use flexibility built into their rules to support consumers, taking into account customers’ individual circumstances. Many major lenders have made statements to this effect.
- If you are experiencing difficulties paying back loans or credit card bills because of COVID-19, you should talk to your lender.
- If you agree a payment holiday with your lender, they should record these in such a way that will not impact on your credit score.
If you are a student experiencing financial difficulties, please read the following information:
- A £5 million package of emergency financial support has been put in place to help students facing hardship. Students should apply directly to their university or college. Further information is available at https://www.studentinformation.gov.scot/coronavirus
If you are concerned about facing insolvency, please read the following information:
- Legislation has been passed to protect people with unsustainable debt during the pandemic. Further information is available at https://www.aib.gov.uk/covid-19-emergency-legislation
If you are worried about your current benefit claim, please read the following information:
- The UK Government has suspended face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits. This move is being taken as a precautionary measure to protect vulnerable people from unnecessary risk of exposure to coronavirus.
- You can now claim your pension credit online. The application form is available at https://www.gov.uk/pension-credit/how-to-claim. It is still possible to claim by post or over the phone if you prefer.
- The UK Government have increased the basic element of Working Tax Credit by £1,045 to £3,040 from 6 April 2020 until 5 April 2021. Depending on your circumstances this increase could mean up to an extra £20 each week.
- The UK Government are protecting tax credit payments, so that if you can’t work your normal hours due to coronavirus you will still automatically receive your normal payment.
- The UK Government has also uprated Child Benefit, other tax credits rates and thresholds, and Guardian’s Allowance by 1.7 per cent with effect from 6 April 2020. The full list of rates and allowances is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rates-and-allowances-tax-credits-child-benefit-and-guardians-allowance/tax-credits-child-benefit-and-guardians-allowance.
- Additional funding has been allocated to Discretionary Housing Payments. If you are struggling with your housing costs and are currently receiving Universal Credit or Housing Benefit you may be eligible for further financial support. Further information is available at https://www.mygov.scot/discretionary-housing-payment/.
If you are working from home and unable to claim home-working expenses, please read the following:
- The UK Government is providing tax relief for additional household costs if you have to work at home on a regular basis and are not being reimbursed by your employer. You can check eligibility and apply at https://www.gov.uk/tax-relief-for-employees.
If you require further financial support, please read the following information:
- You can check whether you are eligible for any of the social security benefits delivered in Scotland at https://www.mygov.scot/benefits/social-security-scotland/. If you have recently started to receive Universal Credit please be aware you may now be eligible for other benefits as a result.
- Citizens Advice Scotland able to support you access a range of support, from claiming benefits to getting help with your mortgage or rent. To access their resources please visit https://www.cas.org.uk/ or call 0800 028 1456.
If you are symptomatic and need to book a COVID-19 test, please read the following information:
- Advice on symptoms can be found at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
- Appointments for the drive-through testing centres can be booked online at: https://www.nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test or by calling 0300 303 2713.
- We can all help combat the spread of coronavirus by downloading the Protect Scotland app at https://protect.scot/
If you are concerned about travelling to or from the UK, please read the following information:
- The UK Government have worked flat out to get British travellers stranded abroad home, and have partnered with key airline providers to ensure that tourists stranded abroad can get home. Where commercial routes do not exist, the UK Government pledged £75 million to enable additional charter flights and to ensure that tickets home are affordable.
- British tourists stranded abroad should first check if there are commercial routes available by checking airline websites, FCO travel advice pages and local British embassy social media. If there are no commercial options, please visit the UK Government’s foreign travel advice page and follow embassy social media and email updates. When special return flights become available, they will be advertised by the embassy, on FCO Travel Advice Pages and if you register for updates you will be contacted via email.
- The latest advice from the UK Government on a range of travel related issues is available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus.
If you are a foreign national concerned about your visa expiring while in the UK, please read the following information:
- The UK Government have announced that all NHS frontline staff with visas due to expire before October 2020 will have their visa extended for one year. Doctors, nurses, paramedics, midwives, radiographers, social workers and pharmacists will automatically have their visas extended, free of charge, for one year.
- The UK Government extended the visas of foreign nationals who could not leave the UK due to travel restrictions or self-isolation until 31 July. This extension applied to anyone whose visa expired after 24 January but were unable to return home as a result of coronavirus. Given that travel restrictions are being lifted globally, people are now expected to take all reasonable steps to leave the UK when it is possible to do so. If it is not possible you may request additional time to stay, also known as ‘exceptional assurance’. Further information is available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents.
If you feel vulnerable but do not have a support network, please read the following:
- A new helpline has been set up for people who would be at high risk if they contracted coronavirus, but are without support from family or their community. In particular, people who are any of: (1) aged over-70, (2) disabled, (3) requiring the support of mental health services, (4) pregnant, (5) unable to get online or (6) receive the flu jab for health reasons should contact the helpline on 0800 111 4000. This helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
- The helpline will support you to get essential food or medication, emotional support, or information for vulnerable children and adults.
If you are concerned about an older person in need of support, please read the following information:
- Age Scotland have a free, confidential helpline which provides information, friendship and advice on 0800 12 44 222. It should be available Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm. Practical advice for helping older relatives and friends through this difficult time is available at www.age.scot/5waystohelp.
If you are worried about your mental health or wellbeing, please read the following information:
- Advice on mental health can be found at https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/mental-wellbeing.
- If you're feeling distressed, in a state of despair, suicidal or need emotional support you can phone Samaritans for free on 116 123.
If you are a veteran, please read the following information:
- All Armed Forces Pensions, War Pensions and Armed Forces Compensation Scheme regular payments should continue to be made as usual. However due to COVID-19, there have been some changes to Veterans UK Services. The latest information is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-changes-to-veterans-uk-services.
- A new website, www.HeadFIT.org, has been designed specifically for the defence community to provide 24/7 access to self-help tools that can enhance mood, drive and confidence, and help you manage the stresses of everyday life.
- The ‘Unforgotten Forces’ partnership has been given extra funding. Further information is available at https://www.poppyscotland.org.uk/get-help/advice/unforgotten-forces.
If you are pregnant and worried about coronavirus, please read the following information:
- The latest advice for pregnant women and their families from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is available at https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/coronavirus-pregnancy/covid-19-virus-infection-and-pregnancy/.
If you are concerned about your car or driving licence, please read the following information:
- From 3 October 2020, you will need to book an MOT test as normal. Car, motorcycle and van owners were granted a 6-month exemption from MOT testing from 30 March 2020 to allow people to carry on with essential travel, but this has now ended. You should not take your vehicle for an MOT if you are self-isolating. Further information is available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-mots-for-cars-vans-and-motorcycles-due-from-30-march-2020.
- If you have a photocard driving licence which expired between 1 February and 31 August 2020 you have been granted an automatic 7-month extension from the date of expiry. This will help drivers to make necessary journeys without having to obtain a new photograph to renew their licence. Further information is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/drivers-granted-7-month-photocard-licence-extension.
If you wish to report a business behaving unfairly, please read the following information:
Unfair business practices can be reported to the Competitions and Markets Authority at https://www.coronavirus-business-complaint.service.gov.uk/