A-Z of support and help
This directory has been designed to help you keep track of new changes being introduced to the benefits system as a result of the coronavirus. We hope that this summary provides a useful source of reference.
Click on the sections below to learn more
If you have accessibility needs or care for someone who has, you can get support with claiming benefits and pensions.
There are adjustments that can be made to help anyone experiencing difficulty using the phone, reading letters or going online to name just a few examples. Please see this guidance for further information.
Face-to-face assessments are now taking place alongside existing paper-based assessments, and telephone assessments.
If you have reached State Pension Age and have a disability, you may be able to apply for financial support through the benefit, Attendance Allowance. For information about the rates and criteria to apply, see our Attendance Allowance page. Once you have applied, the Department of Work and Pensions should get in touch with you directly to advise on how to proceed with having an assessment safely, if necessary, during this period.
If your circumstances have changed (for example your condition has deteriorated and you believe you're entitled to a higher amount), you can also request a review by phone or by post. see this Attendance Allowance gov.uk page for contact details.
We generally recommend that you take further advice before requesting a review as it can result in the level of your award remaining the same, increasing or in some cases it could be reduced. Contact your local advice agency to discuss your situation. You can also contact our Helpline if you have any specific queries by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org. It helps if you mention where you are from so that our advisers can tailor their guidance for you.
With the effects of COVID-19 and during the cost of living crisis, it's possible that your household income might have decreased or changed, and now may be a good time to have a benefits check. For example, you may have become entitled to some financial assistance through welfare benefits.
On 31 May 2021, new rules were introduced to allow Child Benefit to continue in payment after a young person leaves education early because of exam cancellations due to coronavirus. Find out more about Child Benefit on the gov.uk site.
Council Tax/rate relief support
If you’re struggling to pay your Council Tax bill, you could get in touch with your local authority or local trust (in Northern Ireland) to see if they can allow you to defer payments or to see if they can offer any form of discount or support to help.
See our main Help with Council Tax/ rate relief page to find out about your rights and for more ideas for saving money.
Rate relief in Northern Ireland and COVID-19
There are various rate support schemes in place to offer support in Northern Ireland. You can find more information here.
(UK wide) If you are experiencing difficulties paying back loans or credit card bills, you should talk to your lender. If you agree a payment holiday with your lender, they should record these in such a way that will not impact on your credit score. See our Help with debt page for other useful sources of support. You can also find lots of helpful tips on our Support with living costs page.
TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People have launched a coronavirus support service to help those who are vulnerable and struggling with tax problems to claim the support they are now entitled to. Their helpline is available Monday - Friday, 9am to 5pm: 0345 120 3779. YouTube tutorials are also available to help.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
In April 2021, DLA guidance was updated to include long covid syndrome stating, 'It is those children who have significant functional impairment at 12 weeks and do not seem to be recovering, who may have entitlement to DLA Child.' (page 742)
In Scotland, a new benefit has replaced DLA for children called 'Child Disability Payment'. Those who are already receiving Disability Living Allowance for children in Scotland don't need to make a new application as their award will be automatically transferred. Read more at: mygov.scot/child-disability-payment.
Contact your local advice agency to discuss your situation. You can also contact our Helpline if you have any specific queries by emailing: email@example.com.
Extra financial support
The tax charities Tax Help for Older People and TaxAid are offering targeted support for those affected by the impact of COVID-19 and cost of living crisis. Their helpline is 0345 120 3779 and is open Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm.
The government website links you to Citizens Advice webpage coronavirus - if you are worried about working. There is also further information on the ACAS website here. The ACAS helpline number is 0300 123 1100.
You can also contact our Helpline if you have any specific queries by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please mention where you are based so that our advisers can tailor their guidance to your needs.
Employment and Support Allowance (New Style)
This is a type of benefit that you may be able to apply for if you are ill or have a disability that affects your ability to work. To find out if you are eligible, visit this gov.uk page. More detailed guidance including where you have been affected by coronavirus can be found here.
New style Employment and Support Allowance is a fortnightly payment and for eligible claimants who are directly affected by COVID-19, it is payable from the first day of sickness, rather than the eighth day.
For all new claims to New Style ESA, processed from 26 April 2021, claimants will be required to have an appointment with a work coach and agree a claimant commitment before they can receive New Style ESA.
End of life planning/bereavement
We have brought together some guidance to help you get through difficult times and prepare for the loss of someone close to you, especially during this very difficult period when many services are not operating as before.
Understanding that there is much to take on board, both emotionally and on a practical level, we have tried to break down our guidance by suggesting some steps to follow.
- Our guidance sheds light on advance care planning, registering the death and arranging the funeral.
- Our guidance can help you find out more about dealing with grief.
- On the gov.uk website, there is further information about Bereavement Support Payment.
Hospitals - preparing and leaving
You may have been thrown into the role of caring for someone and feel underprepared. Or perhaps the needs of someone you have cared for over time have suddenly changed. Uncertainty about what to do and how to cope can be a big source of anxiety.
Our planning for emergencies page offers tips on how to relieve these worries by preparing for the unexpected, such as a sudden visit to hospital. Once there, the ward staff should help patients communicate with those they are close to by phone or video, where possible. Providing permission and related information as part of a documented plan in advance may be useful. For example, you could indicate who you would like to be kept informed as key contacts.
Our guidance can also help you prepare for someone you care for coming out of hospital. Knowing what questions to ask, what your rights are, and what to expect can help you both adapt and cope with any change of circumstances. See our checklist page.
Remember that use of face coverings is still mandatory in hospitals. Check the hospital's website in advance to ensure that you follow their guidance and protocols. Also see the government's guidance on hospital discharge.
You may be entitled to some extra housing support if you have limited savings or are on a low income. Let your local council know as soon as possible or contact your local Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland.
If you receive Housing Benefit or Universal Credit and are finding it difficult to pay your rent, you could apply to your council for a Discretionary Housing Payment.
Other benefits (incl. legacy benefits)
Many interviews and appointments previously carried out face to face in job centres can now be conducted over the phone. However, face-to-face assessments for Work Capability Assessments for claims for the additional health amount of Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance and for PIP resumed from May 2021 across England.
See Employment and Support Allowance (new style) above for more information about the benefit.
If you are having difficulty with the repayments and are struggling to meet essential living costs, seek further advice. The DWP say that those who are experiencing 'real financial hardship' can request deferral of repayments by contacting the Debt Management line on 0800 916 0647.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
To see if you can apply for this disability benefit, see our Personal Independence Payment page. The assessment centres and staff should be fully compliant with COVID-19 safety measures.
TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People can offer support for those who are struggling with tax problems and self-employed. Their helpline is available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm: 0345 120 3779. YouTube tutorials are also available to help.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
Find out more about the benefit and its rates on our Universal Credit page.
If you’re claiming this for the first time, you will have to wait at least five weeks for the first payment, so don’t delay making a claim. You can make a claim for an advance payment while you are waiting for your Universal Credit payment.
The standard rates in Universal Credit and Tax Credits are as follows:
Single aged under 25: £292.11
Single aged 25 or over: £368.74
Couple both aged under 25: £458.51
Couple one or both aged 25 or over: £578.2
Find out more about the process of applying here. Anyone who is unable to get online or needs additional help, can ring the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644, or the Citizens Advice Help to Claim Service on 0800 144 8 444. For more information, see this gov.uk page.