Coronavirus - support for benefit claimants

Date: 18 March 2020

We understand that many of our residents will be feeling anxious about their ability to pay their rent and claim benefit support during this uncertain time. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have announced that a range of extra support and measures will be in place to help workers, benefit claimants and businesses that have been affected by Coronavirus.

For people who need to make a new claim for financial support


The Department for Work and Pensions understands that people who are required to stay at home or are infected by Coronavirus may need financial support, and quickly. Please be assured:


  • Those affected by Coronavirus will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance up front without physically attending a jobcentre.
  • The seven waiting days for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for new claimants suffering from Coronavirus or required to stay at home will not apply, so it will be payable from day one.


For information on making a claim for the first time, click here


For people already claiming support


If you are currently receiving Tax Credits and/or Housing Benefits, then you may be better off staying on these. If this applies to you, please seek advice first from our Money Matters Team before applying for Universal Credit.


If you receive benefits, and you’re unable to attend a reassessment or jobcentre appointment because you’ve been affected by Coronavirus, special arrangements will be in place for you:


  • Disabled and sick claimants who cannot attend a reassessment for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit will continue to receive their payments while their assessment is rearranged. 
  • People who need to claim ESA or Universal Credit because of Coronavirus will not be required to produce a Fit Note.
  • Claimants who need to self-isolate at home or have been diagnosed with Coronavirus should inform the DWP as soon as possible. People who tell the DWP in good time will not be sanctioned. The DWP will review their conditionality requirements in their claimant commitment, to ensure they are reasonable. 
  • Claimants who are staying at home as a result of Coronavirus will have their mandatory work search and work availability requirements removed to account for a period of sickness.


Employees and self-employed people


To make sure people in work can take the necessary time off to stay at home if they are suffering from Coronavirus or to prevent its spread, changes have been made to Statutory Sick Pay and how Universal Credit supports self-employed claimants. These changes mean:


  • People who cannot work due to Coronavirus and are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of their illness. The Department for Work and Pensions intend for this measure to apply retrospectively from 13 March.
  • Statutory Sick Pay will be payable to people who are staying at home on Government advice, not just those who are infected, from 13 March after regulations were laid on 12 March.  
  • If employees need to provide evidence to their employer that they need to stay at home due to Coronavirus, they will be able to get it from the NHS 111 Online instead of having to get a Fit Note from their doctor. This is currently under development and will be made available soon.
  • Self-employed claimants on Universal Credit who are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of Coronavirus will not have a Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) applied for a period of time while affected. 


If you have any questions, or require additional help or support, please contact our Money Matters team by emailing

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