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Coronavirus - check what benefits you can get

This advice applies to England

You might be able to claim benefits or get more money on your current benefits if your work has been affected by coronavirus.

This might be because you: 

  • are earning less than usual - including if you’re self-employed 
  • have lost your job, been made redundant or stopped being self-employed
  • are self-isolating or shielding

If you’re not a UK citizen, you might still be able to claim benefits - check the rules for the benefit you want to apply for.

Each benefit has different rules - what you can claim depends on your situation and if you’ve claimed benefits before.

If you’re already claiming benefits

Universal Credit is gradually replacing these benefits:

  • Housing Benefit
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Income Support

You can usually stay on one of these benefits unless something about your situation has changed - this is called a ‘change of circumstance’. Not every change of circumstance means you need to claim Universal Credit.

If you claim Universal Credit you won't be able to go back to the benefit you were on before. Check if you need to move from other benefits to Universal Credit.

There might also be changes to how you manage your benefits or how much you can get. Check if the government has made any changes to benefits.

If you haven't claimed benefits before

You might be able to get Universal Credit if:

  • you’re on a low income 

  • you’re not working 

  • you have a disability or illness 

  • you’re caring for someone 

You can get Universal Credit even if you’re self-employed or on a zero hours contract.

The amount you could get depends on your situation and how much you earn. This includes money you get from furlough or from the Self-employment Income Support Scheme.

It’s best to apply for Universal Credit before trying to get other benefits. Check if you can get Universal Credit.

If you can’t get Universal Credit, you can try getting ‘new style’ benefits - you’ll need to have paid enough national insurance contributions. You might be able to get these benefits if you: 

If you need help deciding which benefits to claim, you can talk to an adviser

If you’re self-isolating or shielding

You might be able to get:

  • a self-isolation payment from your local council
  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from your employer
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) from the government

You can’t get SSP and ESA at the same time. It’s usually best to get SSP if you can.

You can get a self-isolation payment at the same time as SSP or ESA.

If you're returning to the UK from abroad

You might need to self-isolate – this is also called 'quarantine'.

You can’t get SSP for being in quarantine. You might be able to get it for other reasons – for example if you have symptoms of coronavirus.

If you're employed, talk to your employer about what you can do while you're in quarantine – ask them if you can:

  • work from home
  • be furloughed, if you’ve been furloughed for at least 3 weeks before 1 July 2020
  • take annual or unpaid leave – you might be able to get ESA if you have to take unpaid leave

Check if you can get a self-isolation payment

You might be able to get a single payment of £500 from your local council if you’re employed or self-employed and you can’t work from home.

To get the payment you must be self-isolating at home because the NHS told you to or you tested positive for coronavirus.

You must also be getting at least one of these benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credits
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit

You can find out more and apply on your local council’s website – find your council’s website on GOV.UK.

If you can’t apply for a self-isolation payment yet, check the website again later. Your council should be ready to take your application by 12 October 2020.

Check if you can get Statutory Sick Pay

You might get statutory sick pay (SSP) if you’re following government guidance to self-isolate or you’re shielding.

You could get SSP if:

  • you have coronavirus or symptoms of coronavirus
  • someone you live with has coronavirus or symptoms of coronavirus
  • you're self-isolating because the NHS told you that you’ve come into contact with someone who has coronavirus
  • you’ve been told to self-isolate before you go into hospital for surgery
  • you’re in an area with a local lockdown and the NHS sent you a letter telling you to shield because you’re ‘extremely vulnerable’ - find out more about shielding on GOV.UK

You can read the government guidance about self-isolating on GOV.UK.

If you have a health condition but you’re not classed as extremely vulnerable, you can find out what to do if you’re worried about working

You can check if you can get SSP.

Check if you can get ESA 

You might be able to claim Employment Support Allowance (ESA) if you’re self-isolating because of coronavirus. For example, you might be self-isolating because you or someone you live with:

  • have coronavirus or symptoms of coronavirus – or you’re recovering from it
  • came into contact with someone who might have coronavirus

You’ll usually need to have paid or been credited with enough National Insurance contributions for 2 tax years – in 2020 the tax years are 2017-18 and 2018-19.

If you can get ESA, you’ll be paid from the first day you were sick or self-isolating.

Check if you can get ESA

You might also be able to get Universal Credit if you’re on a low income or not working. Check if you can get Universal Credit.

If you’re already claiming benefits and start claiming Universal Credit, you won't be able to go back to the benefit you were on before. Talk to an adviser before applying for Universal Credit.

If you're struggling to pay your bills

You can check what help you can get if you can't pay your bills. This includes things like your mortgage, energy bills, council tax or court fines.

If you're struggling to pay for food, find out how to get help from a food bank. If you have children, check if they can get free school meals.

You might be able to get other benefits - for example, if you’re a carer or have a long-term health condition. If you’re not sure which benefits to apply for, you can talk to an adviser

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