The spread of coronavirus in the UK and across the world could have implications for your work, benefits and travel plans.

A range of extra support and measures will be in place to help workers, benefit claimants and businesses affected by coronavirus.

Claiming benefits

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Whether you are currently in or out of work, if you are on a low income and affected by the economic impact of COVID-19, you will be able to access the full range of the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

From 6 April the government is increasing the standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit for one year. Both will increase by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating. This will apply to all new and existing Universal Credit claimants and to existing Working Tax Credit claimants.

If you have COVID-19 or are staying at home

You are now able to claim Universal Credit, and if required can access advance payments upfront without needing to attend a jobcentre.

If you are self-employed

You are able to claim Universal Credit, providing you meet the usual eligibility criteria.

To support you with the economic impact of the outbreak, and allow you to follow government guidance on self-isolation and social distancing, from 6 April the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed. This change will apply to all Universal Credit claimants and will last for the duration of the outbreak.

New claimants will not need to attend the job centre to demonstrate gainful self-employment.


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Support for rent costs

You should check your eligibility for Universal Credit, which is available for people in and out of work. Support for rental costs will be paid through Universal Credit.

From April, Local Housing Allowance rates are increasing to 30 per cent of market rents. This applies to all private renters who are new or existing Universal Credit housing element claimants and to existing Housing Benefit claimants.

Complete ban on evictions and additional protection for renters

There is emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation while this national emergency is taking place.

No new possession proceedings through applications to the court will commence during the crisis.

Find out more here


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Sick pay

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 staying at home because of COVID-19 you can now claim SSP. This includes individuals who are caring for people 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 the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) page for more information.

SSP start date

SSP should be paid from day one, rather than day four, of your absence from work if you are absent from work due to sickness or need to stay at home due to COVID-19. This will apply retrospectively from 13 March. You should talk to your employer if you are eligible for SSP and need to claim.

Proof of sickness

If you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can get an ‘isolation note’ by visiting NHS 111 online, rather than visiting a doctor. For COVID-19 cases this replaces the usual need to provide a ‘fit note’ (sometimes called a ‘sick note’) after 7 days of sickness absence.

If you’re 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 stay at home, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or new style Employment and Support Allowance.

If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day one of sickness, rather than day eight, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home.

Furloughed workers

If your employer cannot cover staff costs due to COVID-19, they may be able to access support to continue paying part of your wage, to avoid redundancies.

If your employer intends to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, they will discuss with you becoming classified as a furloughed worker. This would mean that you are kept on your employer’s payroll, rather than being laid off.

To qualify for this scheme, you should not undertake work for them while you are furloughed. This will allow your employer to claim a grant of up to 80% of your wage for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

You will remain employed while furloughed. Your employer could choose to fund the differences between this payment and your salary, but does not have to.

If your salary is reduced as a result of these changes, you may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will run for at least 3 months from 1 March 2020, but will be extended if necessary.

You can find out more government plans for employment below:

Information for employees

Information for employers

Useful Links

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Coronavirus – what it means for you and what you’re entitled to

A comprehensive guide is also available from the Money Advice ServiceThe guide will look at your rights to sick pay, what benefits you can claim if you’re self-employed or not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

Click on the links to go straight to Money Advice Service information on:

If you’re employed

If you’re self employed or a sole trader

If you work in the gig economy

If you run your own business

If you can’t work because you have to look after someone with coronavirus

If you’re worried about losing your job

Benefit changes because of coronavirus

Coronavirus and disability benefits


Money Advice Service

If you are struggling to pay bills or other essential costs, see the guide coronavirus and your money:


Energy Bills

Proposals have been agreed to ensure vulnerable customers who may fall into debt remain supplied with energy while in self isolation.

Ofgem working closely with government to ensure the energy industry is taking all the necessary steps to serve the needs of customers, particularly people in vulnerable situations and people who may need to self-isolate at home.


Citizens Advice – includes advice on claiming benefits


Money Saving Expert - Coronavirus Financial Help & Rights

This guide has info about how coronavirus affects your finances.

Important: This is a fast-changing situation. They will be updating the guide constantly.