If you have lost your job or your income has reduced as a result of the Coronavirus you may be entitled to Universal Credit or New Style Jobseekers Allowance.
You can check your benefit entitlement at www.turn2us.org.uk/
If you’re unemployed or on a low income you could be eligible for Universal Credit, a means-tested benefit to help with your basic living costs.
You may be able to get Universal Credit if:
- You’re on a low income or out of work
- You’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
- You’re under State Pension age (or your partner is)
- You and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you
- You live in the UK
More information on Universal Credit
WARNING: If you are receiving other means-tested benefits, such as working tax credits you need to be aware that these payments will stop when you make a claim for Universal Credit and you will not be able to return to these benefits in the future.
Universal Credit and the Benefit Cap
Although there have not been any changes to the Benefit Cap if you are new to claiming benefits because you have lost your job or had a reduction in your hours you may be affected by the cap.
If your working hours have reduced and your monthly earnings have fallen below £604.59 or you have lost your job through no fault of your own you may now be subject to the Benefit Cap unless you are protected by the 'grace period' (if you have been in work continuously for the past 12 months and monthly earnings have been £569.23 for the months up to April 2020 and £604.59 for months after April 2020 you will not be affected by the Benefit Cap for 39 weeks).
For more information on the Benefit Cap.
New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
If you’re unemployed or work less than 16 hours a week you may be able to get New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) to help you when you look for work. To claim you will also need to have paid or been credited with enough National Insurance contributions in the last two full tax years.
New Style JSA is a fortnightly payment that can be claimed on its own or at the same time as Universal Credit. If you qualify, you can get New Style JSA for up to six months.
If you qualify for both JSA and Universal Credit, the amount of JSA you receive will be taken into account as income for Universal Credit.
Your savings (or your partner’s savings and income) are not taken into account when claiming the New Style JSA. However, any earnings and any payment you are getting from a pension may affect the amount you receive.
You may be eligible for Universal Credit (UC) if you (and your partner) don't have savings of more than £16,000. The JSA will be classed as income when determining how much UC you are eligible to receive and will reduce your UC payment by the same amount. If you have a partner their income will also be taken into account when working out your UC.
More information on New Style Jobseekers Allowance
New Style Employment and Support Allowance
If you are unable to work due to illness or you have a health condition or disability that limits your ability to work you may be able to claim New Style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), depending on your National Insurance record.
New style ESA can be claimed on its own or at the same time as Universal Credit.
You may be eligible for Universal Credit (UC) if you (and your partner) don't have savings of more than £16,000. The ESA will be classed as income when determining how much UC you are eligible to receive and will reduce your UC payment by the same amount. If you have a partner their income will also be taken into account when working out your UC.
You may be eligible for New Style ESA if:
- You have been working (either as an employee or self-employed) within the last two to three years and have paid, or been credited with, enough National Insurance contributions
- You are 16 or over, and under State Pension age
- You are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), or your entitlement to SSP is coming to an end
You may also be able to apply for New Style ESA if you’re not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay and one of the following applies:
- You or your child might have coronavirus or you’re recovering from it
- You or your child are self-isolating because you came into contact with someone who might have coronavirus
- You have been advised by your doctor or healthcare professional to self-isolate before going into hospital for surgery
- You have been advised to shield (this means you need to take extra precautions to reduce contact with others) because you’re at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus
The seven waiting days for Employment and Support Allowance for new claimants suffering from coronavirus or required to stay at home will not apply, so it will be payable from day one.
You can apply for New Style ESA online. If you can’t make an application online, you can apply by calling the Universal Credit helpline
Help with your Council Tax
Universal Credit and New Style JSA do not include Council Tax Support so you will need to make a separate claim. Council Tax Reduction can help you to pay your council tax costs if you are on a low income.
More information on Council Tax Support