Housing and benefits: coronavirus update

Self-employed

If you are self-employed and you have had to self- isolate, or had a loss or reduction in income due to Coronavirus you may be eligible for Universal Credit or Employment and Support allowance to help with your income. For further information please visit the Government's Universal Credit webpage and New Style Employment and Support Allowance webpage.

You may be eligible to claim a grant through the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme if you are self-employed or a member of a partnership. To see if you qualify or how much you can claim please find more information on the Government website.

If you are unable to pay your Council Tax, you may be eligible for Council Tax Support. Find out if you qualify.

If you already receive Council Tax support and/or Housing Benefit, please contact us on 01508 533633 to advise of any changes.

Employed

If you are self-isolating and employed, you will be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (£94.25 per week) from day one (rather than day four).

Depending on your income, you may also be entitled to Universal Credit. Please visit the Government Universal Credit website for further information. You may also be entitled to Council Tax Support. See if you qualify.

If you already receive Council Tax Support and/or Housing Benefit, please contact us on 01508 533633 to advise of any changes.

Homeowners

Homeowners can get a 3-month mortgage holiday, including landlords. Please contact your mortgage provider, or if you are in private rented please discuss options with you landlord.

Tenants

We encourage anyone whose income has been impacted by COVID-19 to contact their landlord immediately, whether that be a registered provider such as Saffron or Clarion or a private landlord. We are aware that registered providers are keen to work with their tenants, however they will not know that you are in hardship unless you call them.

Government has announced that private landlords can ask their mortgage provider for a 3-month payment holiday, when their tenants are affected by COVID-19. It is therefore expected that this saving be passed to you, whilst your welfare benefits are put into payment.

Please contact your landlord to discuss. If you have any problems our housing team may be able help, please email housingadvice@s-norfolk.gov.uk or call 01508 533751.

Other Information

Council Tax Hardship Fund

We have created a fund to support our residents who are experiencing severe hardship due to the coronavirus crisis.

Working age households that are in receipt of Council Tax Support will automatically receive up to £150, which will be used to reduce your Council Tax bill from April 2020. You don’t need to apply for this, we will amend your account and let you know.

Q. Who qualifies for a discount?

Anyone entitled to working-age Council Tax Support (CTS) for any part of the 2020-21 council tax liability will receive a further discount of up to £150.

The reduction will be made using our powers under section 13A(1)(c) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and is referred to in this document as a council tax hardship fund discount.

Q. How do I claim this additional support?

You do not need to claim it. It will be applied to your council tax account automatically and issue a new bill and change your instalments.

If we know that your total council tax liability for 2020/21 is £150.00 or less, we will have already written to you to ask you to stop making payments. If you pay us by Direct Debit, we have suspended taking your payments. There is no need to cancel your Direct Debit.

Q. What if I have overpaid?

Once we have applied the council tax hardship fund discount, any credits caused by payments that you have already made will be refunded to you. You do not need to apply for these refunds as we’ll issue them automatically as quickly as we can.

If you have paid us by cash or through Pay Point / Post Office, we will contact you to ask for your bank details.

Q. Should the hardship fund discount be applied pro-rata based on length of CTS eligibility?

The hardship fund discount will be applied in full at the point you become entitled to working-age CTS in 2020/21.

It will be applied against your council tax liability for the remainder of the financial year, after we’ve applied any other relevant discounts, exemptions and council tax support. Where the liability for the remainder of the financial year is less than £150, the discount value that’s applied will bring the liability down to nil.

Q. What happens if my council tax bill changes mid-year?

If your liability increases, and you had not previously been entitled to a full hardship fund discount because your bill was less than £150, you will receive a further reduction to take your total hardship fund discount to £150, even if your CTS eligibility has ended.

If your bill decreases mid-year (as a result of increased eligibility for CTS or discounts and exemptions), we may reassess the level of hardship fund discount, noting that the level of discounts we award cannot exceed the total of your total council tax liability.

Q. What happens if I move address?

If you move address within our area, we will ensure that you still receive the discount up to £150 against your total council tax liability from the point that you first became entitled to CTS.

If you move into another council area, you are only able to claim this reduction once. This will be applied either to the property you leave or the property you move in to. We will work with your new council to ensure that an appropriate level of assistance is provided

DWP/Job Centre

If you need to claim Universal Credit but have COVID-19 or are self-isolating, you will now be able to claim and to access advance payments upfront without needing to attend a Job Centre Plus.

If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate.

Job Centres are now open for vulnerable customers only.  Please call your local job centre with any queries.