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Benefits for people who are working or were working prior to COVID 19

Benefits available to people who are working or were working prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Furlough)

The Job Retention Scheme is being extended for a further five months from May until the end of September 2021. Employees will continue to receive 80% of their current salary, capped at £2,500 per month, for hours not worked.  Flexibility in furlough will continue, so employees can be paid as usual for the hours actually worked and be covered by the Job Retention Scheme for the rest of their usual hours that they are furloughed for.

To be included in the Job Retention Scheme up to 30 April 2021, you need to have been on your employers' PAYE payroll by 30 October 20.

For the extension of the scheme from 1st May until 30th September you will need to have been employed on 2 March 2021 and been on your employer's PAYE payroll between 20 March 2020 and 2 March 2021.  

Employees will continue to receive 80% of their current salary, capped at £2,500 per month, for hours not worked. Flexibility in furlough will continue, so employees can be paid as usual for the hours actually worked and be covered by the Job Retention Scheme for the rest of their usual hours that they are furloughed for. There will be no employer contributions beyond paying for National Insurance contributions and pensions required in May and June. From July, the government will introduce an employer contribution towards the cost of unworked hours of 10% in July, 20% in August and 20% in September.

The details are set out here: www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Useful advice for employees is available here: www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/04/employed-help-coronavirus-furlough/

 

Have you been furloughed? (Job Retention Scheme)

The Welsh Government has provided sources of online training for furloughed workers, to both update your skills if you will need to find a new job, or even if you are bored and details of what is available can be found at: https://workingwales.gov.wales/change-your-story/furlough-support.

If you are furloughed for benefit purposes you are still counted as a worker and can continue to receive 'in-work' benefits that you were previously receiving such as tax credits, housing benefit, council tax reduction, universal credit.

It is important to remember that these benefits are means tested - any change you have in income you should notify the relevant organisation (Her Majesty's Revenue & Customslocal authority or Department for Work and Pensions).

If your income has reduced, you should check whether you have now become entitled to any benefits to top-up your income (read on for more information) and check with us whether you qualify for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

COVID-19 self-isolation payments (Trace, Track, Protect)

If you have been contacted by NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect service (TTP) or by the by the NHS Wales COVID-19 app and been told to self-isolate, you may be entitled to a payment of £500. These payments have now been extended to include a payment for parents or carers of children in education up to year 8 (plus young people in education up to age 25 if they have complex needs) - www.swansea.gov.uk/isolationpayment

COVID-19 statutory sick pay enhancement scheme for care workers

This is a Wales Government scheme for care workers who either only receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or who are not eligible for SSP for their employers to pay them their full wages whilst they are off work due to Coronavirus. This will be due to either having symptoms / tested positive for Covid-19 or have been told to self-isolate because they or a member of their household has to self-isolate by the NHS Wales test, trace and protect service. This scheme will now run until 30 September 2021. 

The care worker will not be eligible for this scheme if they already receive full pay from their employer when taking time off for sickness absence. 

A care worker is defined as including domiciliary care workers, personal assistants, carers or nurses in registered care homes. Also included are the ancillary staff in care homes such as cleaners, cooks, administration or management staff if they are in regular close contact with residents. Agency and casual staff are included, as are self-employed carers. 

Full details of who is covered by the scheme can be found at: gov.wales/covid-19-statutory-sick-pay-enhancement-scheme#section-53595

Rent arrears

The Welsh Government have teamed up with credit unions in Wales to offer low interest loans for tenants in rent arrears. The Tenancy Saver Loan scheme will be open to private rented sector tenants in rent arrears and those who may also struggle to pay future months' rent as a result of coronavirus; it will be open until March 31 2021: https://gov.wales/scheme-help-tenants-affected-coronavirus-launches-wales

If you are situation, please first get a benefit check to ensure you are receiving all available help through Housing Benefit and Universal Credit housing costs first, before taking on further debt. If you are eligible for Housing Benefit or Universal Credit including housing costs in your UC maximum amount, please consider applying for a Discretionary Housing Payment to help with any shortfall between their benefits and rent, before applying for a loan.

 

Have your hours of employment been temporarily reduced?

Working Tax Credit

Usually if your hours of work reduce it could affect any entitlement to working tax credit you receive. To qualify for working tax credit you have to be working at least 16 hours per week (if you are a lone parent or a disabled worker or claim as a couple and your partner is in hospital, prison, receives Carer's Allowance or is incapacitated or you are over 60); at least 24 hours per week (if you are a couple and responsible for children, one of you has to work at least 16 hours); or at least 30 hours per week for other workers over 25. 

If your hours of employment have been temporarily reduced due to COVID-19 and you no longer meet the minimum number of hours you are expected to work; the government has confirmed that you will still receive your usual tax credit payments providing that you are still employed or self-employed, this will not apply if you lose your job, are made redundant or cease trading. HMRC will continue to treat you as working your normal hours until the Job Retention Scheme closes, which we now know has been extended until 30 September 2021, even if you are not using the scheme. If after this period your usual hours of work have not been reinstated you should qualify for the 4 week run on of Working Tax Credit.

A change of your earnings is not a change of circumstances that you have to report for tax credits; however by reporting this change you are reducing the risk of being over or underpaid when they finalise your award at the end of the financial year.  If you have had a change to your earnings and want your tax credits recalculated you should ring Tax Credits on 0345 300 3909 or can report changes online https://www.gov.uk/changes-affect-tax-credits. The first annual £2,500 of any increase or decrease are disregarded, this means that even though your income has reduced you may not be entitled to an increase in your tax credit payments.

Important: if there has been any change that means you are no longer claiming as a couple and need to make a claim as a single person or become part of a couple - this always means a new claim which is usually a claim for Universal Credit instead.

The extra £20 per week Working Tax Credit will end on 5 April 2021. Instead there will be a one-off payment of £500 during April to eligible Working Tax Credit claimants across the UK.  

To be eligible for this payment you must have the working tax credit element included in the calculation of your award of maximum tax credits and be entitled on 2 March 2021. These payments are not counted as income for other means tested benefits.

Housing Benefit / Council Tax Reduction

These benefits are means-tested benefit. If you have any change in your income (it decreases or increases) it is important that you notify us as soon as possible. This will enable us to reassess your entitlement to this benefit and to prevent any underpayment or overpayment. Make a new claim for Council Tax Reduction.

If you are renting from the private sector the amount of help you get due to your eligible rent from the local housing allowance has increased for the 2020/21 financial year, the current maximum amounts are here: Local Housing Allowance rates. This increase will stay in place and will not reduce to the previous levels in 2021/22. 

 

Have you been laid off?

The Welsh Government offers redundancy support, details of what is available can be found here: https://workingwales.gov.wales/how-we-can-help/redundancy-support

If your employment has ended and you are no longer employed you may be entitled to claim benefits.

Working Tax Credit

If you were receiving working tax credit prior to your employment ending you will continue to be entitled to working tax credit for the following 4 weeks.  This is known as the 'run-on'.

'New-Style' Jobseeker's Allowance

To qualify for 'New-Style' Jobseeker's Allowance you must meet the relevant national insurance contributions conditions (check if you have worked at some point over the least 3 years).  It is a contributory benefit and is not means-tested, so it doesn't matter about the income of your partner if you have one or whether you have savings or capital.  You must meet the basic rules of entitlement e.g. you must not work more than 16 hours; you must have a signed claimant commitment outlining your work-related requirements.

Income that is taken into account is any earnings you receive for part-time work (under 16 hours), less the relevant earnings disregards (usually £5) and occupational pensions of more than £50.00; most other income is disregarded. New-Style Jobseeker's Allowance is paid for a maximum amount of six months.  Universal Credit can top up contributory 'new-style' JSA, for example if you have rent to pay and are not already in receipt of housing benefit or you have child and are not already in receipt of tax credits. 

Details on how to claim are found on https://www.gov.uk/how-to-claim-new-style-jsa

Universal Credit

WARNING:  If you are currently receiving a legacy benefit - Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Job Seeker's Allowance, Child Tax Credit and/or Working Tax Credit or Housing Benefit, always seek independent advice before making a claim for Universal Credit. This is because:  

  • No new claims for legacy benefits (except Housing Benefit for some temporary or supported accommodation) can be made after 27/01/21.
  • As soon as you submit a claim for Universal Credit any entitlement to legacy benefits ceases. You will not be able to re-claim tax credits, even if you are not entitled to a payment of Universal Credit.  

People who are of working age (18 to pension age) and need to make a new claim a means-tested benefit (entitlement will depend on your capital and/or income of you and your partner) will now have to claim Universal Credit.

If you are a couple and one of you is over state pension age and one of you is under state pension age in benefit terms this means you are a mixed aged couple - this means you are usually unable to claim Pension Credit and may need to claim Universal Credit - please seek advice first.

Universal Credit has replaced new claims for Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance; Income-related Jobseekers Allowance; Income Related Employment and Support Allowance; Housing Benefit; Income Support; Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. Claims are made and managed online via a 'journal'
https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/new-to-universal-credit/help-with-managing-your-money/

A claim for Universal Credit will end any entitlement or future entitlement to the benefits it has replaced. If you are currently receiving one of these benefits you are advised to have a better off calculation to check if you are better off staying on your current benefits with adjustments for any changes in your circumstances or claiming Universal Credit. 

To qualify you (and your partner if you have one) must have less than £16,000 in capital and meet the means test. The amount you are entitled to will differ depending on your personal circumstances and what other income or earnings you have coming in and the amount of savings you have between £6,000 to £16,000. Claimants may qualify for this benefit if they are in work; not working; sick or have caring responsibilities.

All Universal Credit claimants and their partners must have a signed claimant commitment which will outline their work requirements in order to receive this benefit. Universal Credit can be the only income you have coming in or top up other income (eg new-style JSA) to the level that the Government says that you need to live on. 

Work-related requirements

To qualify for Universal Credit or New-style Jobseeker's Allowance your jobseekers agreement / claimant commitment will outline your work related requirements; these include Work Focused Interviews; Work Preparation; Work Search and Work Availability. Failing to comply with your work related requirements can result in your benefit being sanctioned. Claimants and their partners will be subject to work focused interviews and work preparation requirements.

Most face to face appointments at the Jobcentre remain suspended and contact will still be mainly via telephone; email or through your online journals.

 

Childcare costs

If you become liable to pay childcare costs you may be able to receive some financial support via Tax Credits (if you are already receiving Child Tax or Working Tax Credit); or Universal Credit; and if you are receiving Housing Benefit, you should notify us of these charges.

 

Council Tax Reduction 

If you have been laid off and you are on a low income or in receipt of Universal Credit you could get Council Tax Reduction to help you pay your Council Tax. How much you may get will depend on your income and circumstances. You can make a claim online. If you are already in receipt of Council Tax Reduction and your income or circumstances have changed please report the change online or email benefits@swansea.gov.uk.

 

Housing Benefit 

If you are already in receipt of Housing benefit and your income or circumstances have changed please report the change online or email benefits@swansea.gov.uk. A new claim for Housing Benefit can only be accepted in limited circumstances. More information on Housing Benefit

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