Coronavirus - Financial Advice and Support
Many people are worried about the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on their finances. If you are concerned about work, benefits, managing your rent or mortgage, keeping on top of debt or simply making ends meet, this simple guide can help you to access support available in your circumstances.
In times of unexpected crisis, it is natural to worry about money. If you are concerned about loss of income there are steps you can take to help you to cope with financial shock.
Consider your income and outgoings. This can seem overwhelming, particularly when you are worried about money, but our simple, easy to understand online budgeting tool can help you to quickly and easily take stock of your expenses and look for ways to save money.
Check your entitlement to social security benefits and other financial support. You can use our easy to follow online benefit calculator to check what you might be entitled to. Click on each of the sections below to find out about the help and support available if you are worried about work, benefits, rent, mortgage, Council Tax or making ends meet.
If you are concerned that you will not be paid if you are unable to attend work due to coronavirus, the UK government has put measures in place to make it easier to access financial support as quickly as possible:
- Some workers who are required to self-isolate by the Test and Protect Service may be eligible for a £500 grant if they are unable to work from home and their income will reduce as a result. Full details of the grant and how to apply can be found
- Statutory Sick Pay can now be paid from the first day of absence from work for illness due to covid-19 as well as some people required to self-isolate. For more information about SSP and full details of eligibility, go to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- Universal Credit is a means tested benefit to support people with a low income. This benefit is available to people in work, those looking for work and anyone unable to work due to ill health or caring responsibilities. Entitlement will depend on your circumstances and household income. Check is you might be entitled using our online benefit calculator
- More information can be found on the gov.uk website.
If you have been laid off or are worried that you will end up out of work as a result of the current crisis:
- If you have worked and made National Insurance contributions for at least 6 months out of the last 2-3 years, you may qualify for new-style Jobseekers Allowance. This is non-means tested and will not be affected by other household income or savings.
- You may qualify for Universal Credit. This is a means tested benefit which is designed to meet basic costs of living. It is paid monthly and can be claimed online. More information can be found on the Understanding Universal Credit website.
- Support is available if you are looking for work. The Access2Employment team can offer advice by telephone on 0800 032 9768
If you are currently receiving social security benefits there have been some recent changes as temporary covid-19 relief measures have started to be rolled back:
- The additional £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit has now come to an end. This additional amount was included in the standard allowance for all claims since March 2020. The uplift ended from 5th October 2021 and all Universal Credit claimants should have been notified via their online journal or by letter for claims with no digital access.
- From November 2021, tax credit entitlement will be based upon real hours worked. An easement has been in place during the pandemic to allow tax credit claimants whose normal working hours have reduced due to Covid to continue to qualify for tax credits even if their hours are below the threshold. This easement will end from 25th November 2021.
A number of benefits are available exclusively to Scottish people:
- The Scottish Carers Allowance Supplement due to be paid in December 2021 will be paid at a higher than usual rate of £460
- Families in Scotland in receipt of Free School Meals will receive an additional support payment of £160
For more information about Scottish benefits and how to claim, visit the benefits and grants in Scotland webpage.
Help for those with a mortgage:
- If you are currently receiving social security benefits, check whether you are eligible for a Support for Mortgage Interest Loan. This is available to people who have been on a qualifying means tested benefit for at least 9 months and is repaid with interest when you sell your home or when ownership is transferred. More information can be found on the gov.uk website
- If you are struggling to keep up with mortgage repayments or have fallen into arrears, it is important to address this as soon as possible and get a plan in place to get back on track. Contact the Advice Shop for advice about your options or find more information here about how to handle mortgage payment problems.
If you are worried about keeping up with your rent:
- You may be eligible for Universal Credit which can include an amount to help with the cost of rent. Some people can still make a claim for Housing Benefit including those in temporary accommodation, people over state pension qualifying age and some people who get disability benefits.
- If you are in private rented accommodation, the Scottish Government has introduced a temporary change to the legislation, which amends the eviction procedure to make most grounds for eviction under the Private Residential Tenancy discretionary and extends the notice periods required to terminate a tenancy.
- The First Tier Tribunal Housing and Property Chamber which deals with private tenancy evictions in Scotland resumed proceedings from 9th July 2020 but is currently handling all cases by teleconference. If you are forced to leave your home and the proper procedures have not been followed, this is an illegal eviction. More information about your rights can be found on the Shelter Scotland website.
- Those on a low income facing crisis as a result of the coronavirus outbreak can make an application to the Scottish Welfare Fund for a Crisis Grant. You do not need to be in receipt of benefits to apply but you must have a low income and be in crisis. Applications can be made using the online application form
- West Lothian Foodbank will continue to support those in need with emergency food parcels with arrangements in place to support those who are self-isolating. If you are in need of emergency food, contact the Advice Shop on 01506 283000
- Some energy suppliers will provide a one off emergency payment to customers who are supplied by pre-payment meter. If you are worried about not being able to top up your gas or electricity meter, you should contact your supplier to discuss your options. This handy guide from OFGEM could help to answer any questions you have about your energy supply during the current crisis.
Download this handyor take a look at our
Use the flowchart below to determine what financial help may available to you (click to enlarge)
For further advice and support, you can contact the Advice Shop. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01506 283000 to speak to an adviser about your options.