Coronavirus: Support for Individuals

Last updated 19th May 2020. For the latest medical advice, visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus or https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

If you are self-isolating at home, please read the guidance from the government on how to keep you and your family safe throughout. The full advice can be viewed here 

The below contains the latest financial support measures announced by the government for individuals, along with some resources to support you as you social distance. This includes educational services, tools to keep in touch with friends and family, and services to keep you active and look after your mental health. 

To support people affected by Coronavirus:

I am committed to doing everything in my power can to keep Burnley, and our people, healthy and financially secure. The Government is also committed to giving every British citizen the tools they need to get through this by supporting jobs, incomes, businesses and crucially our vulnerable loved ones who are most at risk.

Furlough

Many of you will have heard talk of 'furlough'. What this means in essence is that your employer no longer has work for you but, instead of making you redundant, they can keep you on the payroll but not operating. In this instance, the Government will issue a grant to your employer worth 80% of your wage (up to a limit of £2,500 per month). This should ensure that those individuals who would otherwise be laid off from work will be kept on the books so that when we get through this period, businesses can quickly start operating again and individuals can get back to work.

To be put on furlough both you and your employer must agree, including the pay reduction to 80%. An employer may choose to top this up to 100% using their own funds but they are under no obligation to do so. This is to ensure that as many employers as possible use the scheme and those with no income coming in do not choose to lay staff off instead of furloughing. 

You’ll still be paid by your employer and pay taxes from your income.

Once you are on furlough you will not be able to work for your employer. You can undertake training or volunteer subject to public health guidance, as long as you’re not:

  • making money for your employer or a company linked or associated to your employer
  • providing services to your employer or a company linked or associated to your employer

If workers are required to, for example, complete training courses whilst they are furloughed, then they must be paid at least their appropriate minimum wage (NLW/NMW/AMW) for the time spent training, even if this is more than the 80% of their wage that will be subsidised.

Whilst furloughed your employer cannot ask you to do work for another linked or associated company.

For full information on whether your employer can use the furlough scheme for you and your job please see the full HMRC guidance for employees

Still working but off sick self-isolating

If you develop symptoms of Coronavirus, but are still working it is important that you immediately begin to self-isolate for 7 days. Anyone else you live with should self-isolate for 14 from the day you got symptoms but they can continue to work from home if that's possible in their role. If another member of your household develops symptoms first, they should self-isolate for 7 days and you (and anyone else) should do so for 14 days. 

I recognise that this will be disruptive to you and your employer. 

If you have symptoms, you should inform your employer immediately using your normal method. You can get a specific Coronavirus Sick Note that you can use to show your employer if they need evidence. To get this please go to 111.nhs.uk/covid-19

We have also now changed the rules on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to ensure you can receive this from day 1 of a sickness absence, not day 4 as was previously the case. 

Universal Credit

If you have lost your job, been put on furlough and lost some of your income, are not eligible for SSP or earn below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week you may be able to make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance. A lot of work has gone into making this as easy as possible and it will now be paid from day 1. 

If you do claim Universal Credit you will now be able to access advance payments upfront without the current requirement to attend a Job Centre. 

For the duration of the outbreak, the requirements of the Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed for those with Coronavirus, or those self-isolating, ensuring self-employed claimants will receive support. 

Many other employers, including supermarkets, are also taking on additional members of staff. You can use the Government Find a Job service to see if any are available in Burnley or Padiham. 

Mortgages, Rent & Bills

A significant amount of work has gone into supporting incomes through this period, using new Government Schemes such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, SSP from day 1 and easier access to Universal Credit. But, both I and the Government recognise that some jobs will still, unfortunately, be lost as a result of this disease. That is why an equal amount of work has gone into helping with the cost of living so that if you need extra help, or are not eligible for some schemes, you can still look after yourself and your family. 

These additional, cost of living, measures include:

  • Mortgage holidays of 3 months, using a quick and simple application process through your lender. This has been a negotiation between Government and the major UK mortgage lenders who have committed to providing payment holidays of 3 months where these are needed. If you think you might need access to this, please contact your lender directly. 
  • Rent holidays of 3 months and a ban on evictions. Working with the banks, the Government has negotiated to ensure that landlords can also get payment holidays on their buy-to-let mortgages, allowing them to pass on payment holidays to tenants struggling due to Coronavirus. A blanket ban on evictions has also been introduced for 3 months, allowing everyone to stay in their home during this vital period. 
  • Temporary payment freezes on loans and credit cards for up to 3 months. If you think you might need to freeze any payments, you should speak to your lender immediately. 
  • For those with an arranged overdraft on their main personal current account, up to £500 charged at zero interest for 3 months.
  • Making sure that all overdraft customers are no worse off on price when compared to the prices that they were charged before recent overdraft pricing changes.
  • Ensuring that anyone using any of these temporary payment freeze measures will not have their credit file affected.

These measures, when combined, should result in a significant reduction in outgoings for those individuals who see a significant drop in income, allowing you to continue to put food on the table and pay your bills as we get through this period. 

Health & Wellbeing At Home

 

A key part of staying well whilst self-isolating is to look after your own mental health. As such, the below contains some helpful information on things you can do whilst at home. 

Every Mind Matters (NHS Mental Health Advice)

Whether you are self-isolating, social distancing or are anxious about COVID-19 and the impact it might have, it is really important that you look after your mental health and give yourself time to think. The NHS has pulled together a range of resources and information on this, all of which can be viewed here

One of the world's leading mindfulness apps - Headspace - has also created a range of free support during this time. This can all be accessed on the Headspace website here

Keeping in Touch

Whilst we may not be able to see our friends and family in person at this time, we should still make sure we make time to speak to each other. There are a range of tools that you can use to do this, from Apple FaceTime and Google Duo, to WhatsApp Video Calls. 

If you want to arrange a group call, with lots of family members or friends, tools such as Zoom or Skype can be a great way of doing so. 

Resources for Parents

In response to school closures across the UK, the National Literacy Trust has launched a free online zone for parents seeking ideas and guidance for activities that will engage their children at home, whilst also benefiting their reading, writing and language development.

https://literacytrust.org.uk/family-zone/

Open University

There are a number of free Open University resources that could be of use to you and your family. These are:

OpenLearn

OpenLearn is the OU’s free to use learning platform with over 15,000 hours of online courses and content available to all.  Around 10 million people visit this site every year. 

With over 950 short courses (varying from 1-1000 hours of study), learners can explore a vast array of subjects, get inspiration, build skills and confidence and earn recognition if they wish (via badged open courses), all for free.  Added to that there are thousands of articles, quizzes and interactive games. 

Specifically on Coronavirus, the OU has a dedicated page which contains information links to UK government advice as well as a dedicated section on supporting mental health and free courses on infectious disease . This will be kept updated, with new content being developed aimed at the elderly (over 70s) on staying well in the event of needing to self-isolate. 

For more information: https://www.open.edu/openlearn/

Open University backs UK Government - The Skills Toolkit

The Open University is delighted to support the UK government in its launch of a new online ‘Skills Toolkit’ platform: https://theskillstoolkit.campaign.gov.uk/ to support members of the public to build skills during the coronavirus outbreak and beyond.

The new platform offers high quality and flexible short online courses in digital and numeracy skills to support people gain skills that employers need, helping to kick start the country’s economic recovery.

FutureLearn

FutureLearn, founded by the OU in 2012, is now Europe’s largest social learning platform delivering short massive open online courses (known as MOOCs) as well as a range of other learning options such as microcredentials to help people up-skill and re-skill and fully online degrees.  It partners with over a quarter of the world’s top universities as well as a range of organisations such as the British Council and Health Education England.  For more information: https://www.futurelearn.com/

It has launched a Free online course on understanding and preventing the spread of coronavirus “COVID-19: Tackling the Novel Coronavirus ” from experts at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, a renowned institute of public health. Designed to help learners better understand the epidemic and how to prevent its spread, the course is an accessible and practical resource for anyone from medical experts to members of the general public.

The course is currently open for enrolment and begins on 23 March. To date over 46,000 learners from almost 200 different countries have signed up for the course in just under a month (44 % of these are based in the UK).

BBC

On 16th March the BBC and Government announced that there would be a delay in TV licence fee changes for the over-75s until August in light of the coronavirus situation. As a result, all over-75s continue to be eligible for a free TV licence. 

Throughout this period, the BBC will continue to provide world-class news reporting and information to allow all of us to stay updated with the latest advice and guidance. It will do this through a number of measures, including:

  • Broadcasting a weekly prime-time Coronavirus special on Wednesdays on BBC One, and move Question Time to 8pm on Thursdays, with call-in audiences and remote guests.
  • Recording a daily edition of the Coronavirus podcast, and film it where possible for News channel use in the UK and abroad.
  • Bringing listeners the most up-to-date information on Coronavirus around the clock through BBC Radio 5 Live. 5 Live will be answering listeners’ questions with regular phone-ins.
  • Delaying the planned closure of the Red Button text news and information service.
  • Using The One Show as a consumer programme show for all aspects of the crisis. This will include health and well-being advice, keeping fit and healthy eating tips, as well as links to other BBC output that can help and support.
  • In BBC One daytime, Health Check UK Live will directly address the concerns of viewers who are in isolation, offering tips on how to keep healthy and happy at home.
  • Making BBC Homepage the BBC’s bulletin board supplying clear information – the answers to all the key questions, with public information, health advice and recipes.
  • Launching a virtual church service on Sunday mornings across local radio in England, led initially by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The BBC is also looking at how it can support additional educational output whilst schools are closed.

 

See Also

Coronavirus

To volunteer to help those who are most vulnerable or self-isolating please click here. 

How serious is COVID-19?