Coronavirus – Financial help for individuals

 

The latest government updates on all aspects of Coronavirus including information on financial support available can be found at  www.gov.uk/coronavirus

If you are worried about your finances and how you are going to make ends meet, there is help available. We have tried to cover some of the most frequently asked questions, provide links to where you can find more information and also to provide additional information which is specific to residents of Milton Keynes. We will add more information as it becomes available.  

Income changes

  1. Already on Benefits

  2. Not already on a benefit or need to apply for another benefit

Other support

Food Bank

Local Welfare Provision

Recent Government announcements – extra help

Income changes

If your income has dropped because of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) you should consider doing some or all of the following until your income goes back to normal.

1) Already on Benefits

There are benefits you may be entitled to if your income is low. You do not have had to pay National Insurance and you can also apply if you are self-employed. If you are already claiming benefits, you might get more money.

If you are already getting one of the benefits listed below, you should tell the office paying you that your income has gone down and by how much. They may be able to increase the amount of benefit you receive.

Benefit Who to Tell Where to find more information
Housing Benefit and  or a Council Tax Reduction Your Local Council. If you live in Milton Keynes, you can report the change in your circumstances here www.milton-keynes.gov.uk/benefits-council-tax/do-it-online-benefits-and-council-tax
Universal Credit Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) www.gov.uk/universal-credit
Job Seekers Allowance Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) www.gov.uk/jobseekers-allowance
Income Support Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) www.gov.uk/income-support
Employment and Support Allowance Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance
Pension Credit Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) www.gov.uk/pension-credit
Tax Credits HM Revenues & Customs (HMRC) www.gov.uk/changes-affect-tax-credits

2) Not already on a benefit or need to apply for another benefit

If you are not already receiving a benefit, the first thing you should do is make a new claim. To work out which benefit you should claim go to https://www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators

You can also use this link if you are already receiving a benefit but wish to know if you should claim another benefit, such as Universal Credit.

If you wish to claim help with your council tax, you can do this on line here

Other support

Policy in Practice have created a welfare support page Your income and Coronavirus (COVID-19) to clearly show what support you might get if your income is affected by Coronavirus. The page is updated as and when changes are announced by the Government. Information is provided on what to do if:

  • You are self-employed
  • You are paying rent
  • You are paying a mortgage
  • Your child qualifies for Free School Meals
  • You have a prepayment meter
  • You pay Council Tax

Food Bank

Milton Keynes Council and MK Food Bank have teamed up to offer more help to local people in crisis. More information is available on our Foodbank Xtra page 

You can also check the Foodbank website mkfoodbank.org.uk for the latest information on emergency food services and opening times or call the Foodbank Helpline on 01908 565852 to discuss your situation.

 

Local Welfare Provision

Milton Keynes Council provides a Local Welfare Provision scheme (LWP) which aims to:

  • Prevent serious risk to health, well-being or safety
  • Provide essential support in the event of an emergency
  • Help people to be part of the community

More information on the scheme and how to apply can be found  here

Recent Government announcements – extra help

On 20th March the Government outlined a package of measures to protect people’s jobs and incomes as part of the national effort in response to coronavirus.

The Local Housing Allowance is the maximum amount of help that people renting from a private landlord can claim from Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.

From April 2020, for one year, Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates will be set at levels that mean housing support from the benefits system is sufficient to cover 30 per cent of all rental properties in the local area. This has not been the case since 2012 and will mean that the number of private rental properties that are affordable to people on Housing Benefit or Universal Credit will increase. The average increase in Milton Keynes is £25 a week (£109 a month).

The new amounts for Milton Keynes from April 2020 are likely to be as follows;

  Room in a shared house 1 Bedroom 2 Bedroom 3 Bedroom 4 Bedroom
Weekly LHA £70.00 £149.59 £189.86 £224.38 £299.18
Monthly LHA £303.33 £648.22 £822.73 £972.31 £1296.45

Source https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/local-housing-allowance-lha-rates-applicable-from-april-2020-to-march-2021

Please note, we have not been told what will happen to these rates from April 2021. There is no guarantee that they will remain at this leve

 From 6 April the government is increasing the standard allowance in Universal Credit by £20 per week. This will apply to all new and existing Universal Credit customers. This means that for a single Universal Credit customer (aged 25 or over), the standard allowance will increase from £317.82 to £409.89 per month.

The government has announced that Working Tax Credits payments will be increased from 6 April 2020 –  more about what's happening and who this affects is here.

The Government has announced that they will be giving Milton Keynes Council an extra £2,322,057 to help people who are  receiving help with their Council Tax bill though a Council Tax Reduction.

  • If you have applied for a Council Tax Reduction or are already receiving a Council Tax Reduction you will not have to do anything else to receive this help. We will not take into account whether you have been affected by COVID-19 either directly or indirectly in assessing eligibility for this reduction.
  • If you are not already receiving a Council Tax Reduction  and need help with your Council Tax bill because you are finding it difficult to manage financially, please apply for a Council Tax Reduction in the normal way. Any extra help will be given automatically.

It will take us some time to process this additional reduction. The Government expects the Council to reduce the bill for all recipients of a working age local council tax reduction by up to £150 for the 2020-21 year. If your bill is already less than £150 a year the bill will be reduced to nil. If your bill is already nil, no additional award will be made.

Because the news is very new we do not know exactly how or when this extra credit will be made but will post updates on this website as soon as they become available. 

If you still have Council Tax to pay after your Council Tax Reduction and the additional £150 reduction and you are finding it hard to pay the balance you should apply for a Discretionary Council Tax Reduction . 

On 20th March 2020 the government announced a new 'Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’ that aims to support businesses to help pay people’s wages.

Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages of their workforce who remain on payroll but are temporarily not working during the Coronavirus outbreak.

How it works Employers will need to:

  • Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify each employee of this change.
  • Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (still in development)
  • HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers’ wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 gross per month.

i.e. the employer will need to make the wage payment and then apply for a reimbursement. If the employer needs short term cash flow support, they may be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.

No further information is available about who will be able to be classed as a 'furloughed worker', but the dictionary definition of 'furloughed worker' is one who has been granted a leave of absence; it is 'temporary leave of employees due to the special needs of a company or employer, which may be due to economic conditions at the specific employer or in the economy as a whole'.

The information published so far about the Job Retention Scheme suggests it will only apply to those employees who are not working due to the Coronavirus, to help safeguard their job. There therefore appears no system in place – apart from the benefit system – for those workers on reduced hours. This may change in the future, but for now we assume this approach.

 

Last Updated: 2 April 2020