Coronavirus: benefits support

Latest update: 6th April 2020

We have put measures into place to support residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Support measures summary:

  • New claims for Housing and Council Tax reductionsHousing benefit and Council Tax reduction are state benefits that help people on a low income to pay their rent and council tax. Check our benefits online service.
  • Changes of circumstances: If you are receiving Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction and want to tell us about a change in your circumstances, please do so by emailing housing.benefits@redbridge.gov.uk 
  • Discretionary payments: If you are already receiving housing benefit and or council tax reduction but are still having difficulty paying your rent or council tax, you may be able to apply for a short-term discretionary payment. Please visit our benefits online service
  • Paying your rent and Council Tax additional help: we can also pay your Housing Benefit direct to your landlord and/or spread your Council Tax instalments over a longer period of time.
  • Statutory Sick Pay and Universal Credit: visit the government's dedicated webpage to check if you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay,  how to claim the universal credit  and Employment and Support Allowance
  • Welfare Benefits: Please call the Welfare Benefit Team on 0208 708 4180 for advice and assistance.
  • Foodbank: we may be able to help you with a voucher for the foodbank. Please call 020 8708 4180 for assistance.
  • Employer Support: residents whose job and income has been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic can seek support from our Work Redbridge service
  • Difficulties with your mortgage, loan or rent: emergency legislation has been put in place to assist you. 

 

The quickest and most effective way to apply for Housing Benefit/Council Tax Reduction is via our benefits online service

If you do not have access to the internet or cannot use the internet and do not have anyone to help you make a claim online, we can assist you. Please call 020 8708 5690 and we will arrange to take a telephone claim from you.

We will try to obtain evidence to support your claim from other sources to prevent the need for you to supply documents. If we require documents to support your claim we will ask you to send them in by email. Details of how to send documents in via email are available on our benefits pages or alternatively, our staff will explain the procedure to you on the telephone.

Claimants entitled to Council Tax Reduction will receive a maximum of £150.00 towards their Council Tax in the coming days. We are developing a further support scheme for those who see a reduction in their income because of COVID-19 and are not entitled to Council Tax Reduction.

If you are receiving Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction and want to tell us about a change in your circumstances, please do so by emailing housing.benefits@redbridge.gov.uk .

Please include your name and your Housing Benefit/Council Tax Reduction reference number and “report change” in the subject field.  

You can also notify us of a change in your circumstances by telephone at 020 8708 5690.

If you are receiving Housing Benefit or Universal Credit Housing Costs, you can apply for extra money through the Discretionary Housing Payment scheme for help with your rent and a Hardship scheme for help with Council Tax. The quickest and most effective way to apply for Discretionary Payments is online. Please visit our benefits online service

If you do not have access to the internet or cannot use the internet and do not have anyone to help you make a claim on-line, we can assist you. Please call 020 8708 5690 and we will arrange to take a telephone claim from you.

Support for those receiving a Discretionary Housing Payment on 31 March 2020 has been extended for three months, without the need for a new application.

We understand that finances may become stretched during these difficult times. Please remember that your rent and Council Tax are priority debts. In addition to the financial support we can provide via Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction and Discretionary Payments we can also:

  • Pay your Housing Benefit direct to your landlord, this may help you to budget and prevent the need for you to leave your home to make your rental payments if you are self-isolating. This will also help to secure your tenancy in these uncertain times.
  • Spread your Council Tax instalments over a longer period of time

If you think you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), please read the following information:

You can get £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re too ill to work. It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.

If you are self-isolating because of COVID-19:

From 13 March, you can now claim SSP. This includes individuals who are caring for people self-isolating in the same household and therefore have been advised to do a household quarantine.

To check your sick pay entitlement, you should talk to your employer, and visit the government dedicate webpage for more information.

From Friday 20 March onwards, those who have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate will be able to obtain an “isolation note” by visiting NHS 111 online and completing an online form, rather than visiting a doctor.

If you are not eligible for SSP – for example if you are self-employed or earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week – and you have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit (UC) and new style Employment and Support Allowance, with, or instead of Universal Credit, depending on your National Insurance record.

Check the government guidance on how to claim the universal credit  and/orthe New Style Employment and Support Allowance.

If you are self-employed and receiving Universal Credit and you have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate, the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed. This change took effect on 13 March and will last for the duration of the outbreak, to ensure that self-employed UC claimants will receive support. 

The Welfare Benefits Team are currently unable to offer personal appointments at any of our sites or provide home visits. Over the telephone or email we will still be able to:

  • Talk you through what benefits you may be eligible for and how to obtain a claim form
  • Explain how your Benefit has been calculated (provided you have your Benefit award letter to hand)
  • Assist you in completing benefit claim forms including Employment and Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payments by talking you through each section of the form
  • Assist you with your mandatory reconsideration or appeal by talking you through the process and helping you to formulate your submission
  • Tell you what other help may be available to you from charities, utility services, debt management services or the voluntary sector
  • Offer a checking service for any forms/paperwork you have completed provided you email them to our Team

We will contact you by your preferred method of either email, letter or telephone.

Depending on your query, you may be on the telephone with us for a long time which can be very tiring for some of our clients; we can spread the work we do with you over a period of telephone sessions to ease the situation. Equally, to reduce the cost to you, we will happily ring you back if you would like us to do this.

At present, the Foodbanks within the borough remain open. The Welfare Benefits Team administer the allocation of Foodbank vouchers on behalf of Trussell Trust and in accordance with their guidelines. vouchers can only be issued to Redbridge residents or those who have been placed outside the borough by Housing. 

You will no longer need to go to Lynton House to collect a voucher for the Foodbank.

Instead, please telephone the Welfare Benefits Team to make your request.  The team will carry out a Benefits Health Check with you and will ask:

  • Your name, address and age
  • Details of anyone else who lives with you
  • How much food you have at home
  • Why you need a voucher
  • What income you receive
  • When you are due your next benefit payment or wages

We will also consider whether there is any other support available to you to ease your financial pressures.

If it is then determined that a voucher can be issued, this request will be sent directly to the foodbank and you can then collect your food parcel from the foodbank.

Find the foodbank opening times on the Redbridge Foodbank website

You can contact the Welfare Benefits Team on 020 8708 4180 or at Welfare.benefits@redbridge.gov.uk

Residents whose job and income has been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic can seek support from the Council's Work Redbridge service.

Our specialist advisers can support you to find work or training, as well as offer advice on interviews and CV writing.

Details of job opportunities including temporary roles will be kept updated on our webpages and regular jobpack. We are currently providing support via telephone and email.

For further information please contact Work Redbridge team at workredbridge@redbridge.gov.uk  or call 0208 708 2298.  

If you are experiencing financial difficulties meeting your mortgage repayments because of COVID-19, you may be entitled to a mortgage or rental holiday for 3 months. This includes if you are a landlord whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19.

If you are a tenant experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19, the government will ensure you do not face the threat of eviction for at least 3 months.

Emergency legislation will be taken forward so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a 3-month period. This applies to private and social renters. At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.

If your landlord is not abiding by the new rules, please contact our Housing Team at housing.options@redbridge.gov.uk or call 020 8708 4002

If you are experiencing difficulties paying back personal loans or credit card bills as a result of COVID-19, you should talk to your lender.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) called on lenders to use flexibility built into their rules to support consumers, taking into account customers’ individual circumstances. Many major lenders have already made statements to this effect.

1. I cannot afford to pay my rent

  • Do you receive Housing Benefit or Universal Credit with Housing Costs?

If yes, you can apply for extra money through the Discretionary Housing Payment scheme On line  or call 0208 708 5690 for a telephone claim.

If you do not receive help with your rent at the moment, you can make a claim for Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing costs. Visit our Housing Benefit page for more information on which benefit to claim or call 0208 708 5690. We will also take telephone claims for Housing Benefit on this number.

 

2. I cannot afford to pay my Council Tax

  • You can make a claim for Council Tax Reduction if you do not already receive this. Claims can be made on-line 
  • Regardless of whether you receive Council Tax Reduction we can help you with a hardship payment. You can claim this on-line or call 0208 708 5690 for a telephone claim.
  • Residents already receiving Council Tax Reduction will shortly be credited with an additional £150; this is part of the 500m hardship fund announced by Government.
  • You can spread your Council Tax instalments over 12 months to reduce the monthly payments. If your income has been affected by COVID-19, you can request that we defer your instalments for a period of time. Please call 020 8708 5670.

 

3. My income has reduced, what can I do?

  • If you are already receiving Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction, contact the council to let them know. The best way to do this is via email benefits@redbridge.gov.uk or call 020 8708 5690. We will do all we can to increase your benefit in these circumstances.
  • If you receive Universal Credit please report your change of circumstances via your online journal 

 

4. I have no money for food

  • We may be able to help you with a voucher for the foodbank. Please call 020 8708 4180 for assistance.

 

5I don’t know what benefits I can claim/I need help to claim benefit

  •  Please call the Welfare Benefit Team on 0208 708 4180 for advice and assistance.

 

6. I am not working because my employer’s business has closed down

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

Your employer will need to:

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

Contact

You can contact the Welfare Benefits Team on 020 8708 4180 or at Welfare.benefits@redbridge.gov.uk

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