Coronavirus Key Facts

Self Employed Workers

Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

  • Pays 80% of average profit from last 3 years. Paid by HMRC
  • Payment due in June 2020
  • . GOV info
  • Eligibility:
    • Be self-employed or a member of partnership;
    • Have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19;
    • File a tax return for 2018-19 as self-employed or a member of a trading partnership. Those who have not yet filed for 2018-19 will have an additional 4 weeks from the announcement to do so;
    • Have traded in 2019-20; be currently trading at the point of application (or would be except for COVID 19) and intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
    • Have trading profits of less than £50,000 and more than half of your total income come from self-employment. This can be with reference to at least one of the following conditions:
      • Your trading profits and total income in 2018/19
      • Your average trading profits and total income across up to the three years between 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19.
  • Cl can claim UC immediately to cover cash flow problems
    • Not yet clear how the DWP will deal with the SEISS income but likely that a SEISS payment in June will be averaged across the months from March 2020, thus creating an overpayment of UC. CL should be ready to repay this
  • Cls cannot apply for this scheme yet.
  • HMRC will contact Cls if they are eligible and invite them to apply online.

Employed Workers

Job Retention Scheme

  • If employer is unable to pay Cl’s salary due to Covid-19, employer can apply for assistance from the Government.
  • Employer can claim a grant of up to 80% of Cl’s salary, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
  • Payments can be backdated to 1st March to initially run for 3 months but may be extended.
  • Cl will become ‘furloughed worker’ – still on the employer’s payroll; will retain statutory and contractual employment rights.
  • If job still exists but Cl has caring responsibilities (eg child, at-risk adult) employer can also furlough the Cl.
  • Cl cannot undertake work for this employer while furloughed (but can do training). Technically, Cl could work for a new employer (if work meets Covid-19 guidelines)
  • The employer could choose to top up the salary to 100% but does not have to.
  • Cl will be paid by the employer as normal. Income will be counted as “earned income” for benefits and deductions.
  • Cl may also claim UC if eligible and JSA if income is less than around £80/week
  • Cl must have been on employer’s PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020. Includes zero hours and temporary contracts
  • For Cls with variable wages. Scheme will pay higher of a) what Cl earned in the same month last year; b) average of monthly earnings from the last year
  • Can be furloughed by more than one employer (£2500 limit on each job)
  • If eligible for contractual (earnings related) SMP etc, employer can claim for this also.

Statutory Sick Pay

  • Sick Pay (£94.25) SSP should now be paid from day 1 (rather than day 4)
  • Includes individuals who are caring for people in the same household and therefore have been advised to do a household quarantine.
  • Must have been earning above the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week
  • If Cl has symptoms, use NHS 111 online to get an “Isolation Note” to give to an employer or via the NHS website if they live with someone with the symptoms.
  • Technically cannot be furloughed and claiming SSP at the same time

Employment Law

Benefits

Admin and process changes

  • No JC+ face to face meetings for 3 months (not clear how Identity checks will work)
  • No PIP/ESA face to face assessments. Not clear is any pending claims will be allowed
  • All reassessments and benefit reviews postponed for 3 months (April-June)
  • If employed and on UC but working fewer hours due to Covid-19, note this on journal (to avoid hassle of not meeting the Claimant Commitment)

UC

  • Personal Allowances for UC and WTC increased by £20/week. Single person over 25 allowance increases from £317.82 in 2019/2020 to £409.89. This increase is not applied to JSA/ESA!
  • For the Self Employed on UC, the “Minimum Income Floor” will not be applied during the outbreak (i.e UC will not assume a specific income).

New Style JSA and ESA

  • Not means tested and thus independent of partner’s income and any savings
  • Also paid with no waiting period and paid every two weeks which may help cash flow
  • If Cl claims this and UC, then the JSA/ESA payments are 100% deducted from UC (ie not paid twice)
  • Must meet the NI contribution requirements:
    • Applies to the two tax years before the current benefit year (ie 2017/18 and 2018/19)
    • Worked for at least 26 weeks earning more than the ‘the lower earnings limit’ in one of the two tax years
    • Paid National Insurance on the equivalent of 50 weeks’ work at the ‘lower earnings limit’ during each of the two tax years
  • For JSA must be Class 1 NI contributions (i.e PAYE); For ESA can be either class 1 or Class 2 NI contributions (ie PAYE or self employed)
  • If claiming New Style ESA, no Fit Note required. Also payable from day 1 (no 7 day wait)

LHA (Local Housing Allowance

  • Calculation now based on 30th rather than 25th percentile of rents – a significant increase. For one bedroom flat in Godalming, now £75 higher at £850/month. Use Gov link for latest LHA data

Council Tax Support

  • Cls already receiving CT support will have a further £150 deducted from their 2020/21 bill
  • Cls with reduced income can apply also

Admin/Contacts

  • If advisers have a question for Guildford Jobcentre they are picking up on 01483 442491 (not to be given to clients) and remain very helpful

Housing

Utilities

Electricity/Gas

Water

  • No changes at this time (domestic customers cannot be disconnected; Cls may be able to apply for Watersure)

TV Licensing

Debt

DWP freezing repayment of benefit debt

  • Suspending repayments of all overpayments and social fund loans. Deductions from benefits, direct debits and direct earnings deductions will stop automatically.
  • If clients make repayments through a Standing Order or other voluntary method they need to cancel these.
  • Not yet clear if applies to 3rd party deductions.
  • Apparently does not apply to UC Advances.

Bailiffs step back (CIVEA and Marstons)

  • Marstons has announced a freeze on enforcement action until further notice. CIVEA has made a similar announcement.

Debt Processes

  • Insolvency Service has closed phone lines and direct contact. Communication by email only
  • DRO clients do not need to advise of a change in income due to increased UC, WTC and CT support payments
  • Cls on DMP or IVA with an income drop
    • Cls with a Debt Management Plan should contact their DMP provider and request a payment break or reduced payments. FCA rules require creditors to reassess payments when circumstances change.
    • Clients with an IVA should speak to their insolvency practitioner (IP) or IVA firm. A ‘protocol compliant’ IVA, which most of our clients should have, allows for a payment break of up to 9 months or a reduction in payments of up to 15% without the need for a creditors meeting. (anything more would normally require a creditors meeting with a fee).

CPAG Debt Book now on-line

Other

Local Support Groups

Charities

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