Financial Support - INFORMATION FOR INDIVIDUALS - UK Government advice 18th March 2020

Statutory Sick Pay:

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: From 13 March, 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.

 • When does SSP apply? The government is legislating for SSP to be paid from day 1, rather than day 4, of your absence from workif you are absent from work due to sickness or need to self-isolate caused by COVID-19. Once the legislation has been passed, this will apply retrospectively from 13 March. You should talk to your employer if you are eligible for SSP and need to claim. 

 • Do I need a sick note? From Friday 20 March onwards, those who have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate will be able to obtain an “isolation note” by visiting NHS 111 online and completing an online form, 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 also be accepted by Jobcentre Plus as evidence of your inability to attend.

 Self Employed/Not eligible for SSP?

• What if I am self-employed or not eligible for SSP? If you are not eligible for SSP – for example if you are self-employed or earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week – and you have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit (UC) or new style Employment and Support Allowance. 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

 Self Employed on Universal Credit/Self Employed and need to claim?

• What if I am self-employed and receiving Universal Credit? If you are self-employed and receiving Universal Credit and you have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate, the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed. This change took effect on 13 March and will last for the duration of the outbreak, to ensure that selfemployed UC claimants will receive support. 

 If you need to claim Universal Credit but have COVID-19 or are self-isolating, you will now be able to claim and to access advance payments upfront without needing to attend a Jobcentre Plus. Please visit https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit for more information.

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.

Householder Mortgage repayments and landlords

If you are experiencing financial difficulties meeting your mortgage repayments because of COVID-19, you may be entitled to a mortgage or rental holiday for 3 months. This includes if you are a landlord whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19. If you are a tenant experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19, the government will ensure you do not face the threat of eviction for at least 3 months:

 • The government has agreed with mortgage lenders that they will offer repayment holidays of 3 months to 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.

 • Emergency legislation will be taken forward so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a 3 month period. This applies to private and social renters.

 • At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.

Personal Loans and Credit Cards.  Difficulties?

If you are experiencing difficulties paying back personal loans or credit card bills as a result of COVID-19, you should read the following information:

 • The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) called on lenders to use flexibility built into their rules to support consumers, taking into account customers’ individual circumstances. Many major lenders have already made statements to this effect.

 • If you are experiencing difficulties paying back loans or credit card bills because of COVID19, 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.

Self Employed or Business Owner?  Worried about Tax?

If you are self-employed or own a business and you are concerned about not being able to pay your tax bills because of COVID-19, you may be eligible for support through Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) Time to Pay service:

 • If you think you or your business is eligible for support through Time to Pay, you can call the following helpline number to get practical help and advice: 0800 0159 559.

 • These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. 

 • For more information, please check the HMRC site here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tax-helpline-to-support-businesses-a….

Contractors/IR35?

If you contract your services to large- or medium-sized organisations outside of the public sector you should read the following information:

 • The government announced on 17 March that the reform to the off-payroll working rules (commonly known as IR35) - that would have applied for people contracting their services to large or medium-sized organisations outside the public sector - will be delayed for one year from 6 April 2020 until 6 April 2021.

 • Business and individuals do not need to take any action.

 Insurance Claims for businesses.

If the only barrier to your business making an insurance claim was a lack of clarity on whether  the government advising people to stay away from businesses, rather than ordering businesses to shut down, was sufficient to make a claim on business interruption insurance:

• The government’s medical advice of 16 March is sufficient to enable those businesses which have an insurance policy that covers both pandemics and government ordered closure to make a claim - provided all other terms and conditions in their policy are met. Businesses should check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers if in doubt.

 • However, most businesses have not purchased insurance that covers pandemic related losses. As such, any affected businesses should note the government’s full package of support, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and business rates holiday.

Any further questions or concerns

Please email me on robin.millar.mp@parliament.uk or telephone my constituency office on 01492 583094.  We are here to help.