We understand this is a difficult time for many people. Information about financial help and advice for anyone affected by COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

Your council tax pays for essential services that are delivered to all residents in Welwyn Hatfield, so it is really important that if your circumstances have not changed that you continue to pay what you should. This also makes sure we can help those who need it most.

If you are worried about paying your council tax and other bills, this page sets out the financial support available.

If your income is affected by COVID-19, you could spread your council tax payments over 12 months. Please speak to a member of our team who are here to help at: c.tax@welhat.gov.uk

You can also speak with Citizens Advice, whose trained advisors can help with a range of issues, including money worries. Use the 'email us' link on the homepage of their website or call 01707 280417.

Council Tax Support


Council Tax Support is designed to help those on a low income, or claiming some benefits, to pay their council tax.

Start an application for council tax support

If you know your circumstances are going to change, you can claim up to eight weeks before the change is due to happen.

If you are still struggling to pay your bill, you may be eligible for further support from our Icon for pdf hardship relief fund.

We have received funding to provide additional Council Tax relief, either through our existing Local Council Tax Support schemes or our existing our hardship fund.

In Welwyn Hatfield, every existing working age resident in receipt of council tax support will have received a reduction in their council tax liability of up to £150.00.

This will mean that those claimants with a balance below £150 will not have anything to pay and this will also apply to new claimants of council tax support.

Universal Credit


If you are unable to work due to contracting coronavirus, are self-isolating, or are working reduced hours, you can make a claim for Universal Credit.

Start an application*

*you will be redirected to GOV.UK

You do not need a fit note or isolation note to claim Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance.

View how to claim Universal Credit to see step by step information on making a claim.

Minimum Income Floor for self-employed claimants will be temporarily relaxed from 13 March and will last for the duration of the outbreak.

Claimants will now be able to claim and access advance payments up front without needing to attend a Jobcentre Plus.

If Universal Credit is awarded and you find that your full housing costs (rent) aren't being met, and you are struggling to pay the shortfall, you can also apply for further assistance from the council through a Discretionary Housing Payments.

 

New Style Employment and Support Allowance


If you are ill or have a health condition or disability that limits your ability to work you may be able to get New Style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

You may be able to claim New Style Employment and Support Allowance with, or instead of Universal Credit, depending on your National Insurance record.

You do not need a fit note or isolation note to claim New Style Employment and Support Allowance.

Minimum Income Floor for self-employed claimants will be temporarily relaxed from 13 March and will last for the duration of the outbreak.

Claimants will now be able to claim and access advance payments up front without needing to attend a Jobcentre Plus.

New Style Employment and Support Allowance is payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8.

For more information about eligibility and how to apply, visit GOV.UK.

 

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)


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 ill or 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 need to do a household quarantine.

To check sick pay entitlement, people should talk to their employer and visit GOV.UK.

Government. is legislating for SSP to be paid from day 1, once the legislation is passed it will apply retrospectively from 13th March 2020.

Sick notes

From Friday 20 March onwards, those with COVID-19 or in self-isolation will be able to obtain an "isolation note".

The isolation notes can be accessed through the NHS website and NHS 111 online, by answering a few questions, then an isolation note will be emailed to you. If you don't have an email address, you can have the note sent to a trusted family member or friend, or directly to their employer. .

For COVID-19, cases this replaces the usual need to provide a "fit note" after seven days of sickness absence.

Isolation notes will also be accepted by Jobcentre Plus as evidence of your inability to attend.

If you are not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (e.g. self-employed, earnings below the lower earnings limit of £118 per week) you can now make a claim for Universal Credit or New Style Employment and Support Allowance more easily.

 

Self-employment Income Support Scheme


This scheme is available for people who are self-employed or a member of a partnership and have lost income due to coronavirus.

  You must meet the following criteria:

  • have submitted your Income Tax Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19
  • traded in the tax year 2019-20
  • are trading when you apply, or would be except for COVID-19
  • intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-21
  • have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19

Your self-employed trading profits must also be less than £50,000 and more than half of your income must come from self-employment.

HMRC will use data from 2018-19 returns already submitted to identify those eligible. They have extended the deadline for those who failed to submit their return in January until 23 April 2020.

How Much and How it is Calculated

The assistance will be in the form of a taxable grant which will be 80% of the average profits from the tax years (where applicable):

  • 2016 to 2017
  • 2017 to 2018
  • 2018 to 2019

To work out the average, HMRC intend to add together the total trading profit for the 3 tax years (where applicable) then divide by 3 (where applicable), and use this to calculate a monthly amount. It will be up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for 3 months.

The grant will be paid directly into claimant's bank accounts, in one instalment (payments expected to be made in June 2020). For those cases who feel they can't survive until June they are advised to look at claiming Universal Credit.

This scheme cannot be applied for yet.

HMRC will contact those directly who are eligible for the scheme and invite them to apply online.

This scheme is only administered through GOV.UK.

If texts, calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC, are received saying that people can claim financial help or are owed a tax refund, and offers a link or request for information such as name, credit card or bank details, it is a scam.

 

Mortgage repayments


The government has agreed with mortgage lenders that they can offer repayment holidays of 3 months to:

  • households in financial difficulty due to COVID-19
  • landlords whose tenants are in financial difficulty due to COVID-19
     

For more information about this you are advised to contact your mortgage lender or go to GOV.UK.

 

Rent payments


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.

The Government has also announced that 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 if they are in financial difficulty due to COVID-19.

This applies to private and social renters. For more information about this go to GOV.UK.

 

Utility bills


Proposals have been agreed between Government and energy companies to ensure vulnerable customers who may fall into debt remain supplied with energy while in self isolation.

Customers with pre-payment meters who may not be able to add credit can speak to their supplier about options to keep them supplied, these include

  • nominating a third party for credit top ups
  • having a discretionary fund added to their credit
  • being sent a pre-loaded top up card so that their supply is not interrupted.

Energy Customers on other payment plans will also be supported by their energy companies, each case would be looked at on an individual basis measures could include:

  • Debt repayments and bill payments being:
    • reassessed
    • reduced
    • paused where necessary
  • Disconnection of credit meters will be completely suspended.

Visit the ofgem website for more information.

 

Personal loans or credit card bills


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.

If you are experiencing difficulties paying back loans or credit card bills because of COVID-19, you are advised to talk to your lender as soon as possible.

 

Loans for small and medium businesses


A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme from the British Business Bank has launched to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts

The government will provide lenders with a partial guarantee of 80% on each loan to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs.

The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. The first 6 months of these loans are interest-free, (Government will cover these payments).

Businesses will be able to get finance under the scheme from a large number of providers, including the main high street banks, as of this week private lenders making funds available to small businesses impacted by COVID-19, include £2 billion from Lloyds Banking Group, £5 billion from NatWest and £7 billion from Barclays.

Go to the British Business Bank website for more information.

 

TAX and VAT concessions for self -employed and business owners


For those self-employed or who own a business, if they are concerned about not being able to pay their tax bills because of COVID-19, they may be eligible for support through Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs' (HMRC) "Time to Pay" service.

To get practical help and advice, you can call 0800 0159 559 go to GOV.UK.

Arrangements will be agreed on a case-by-case basis.


£500 if you are told to self-isolate and claim benefits

A new payment has been announced by the Government meaning £500 could be available to people who are forced to self-isolate for 14 days and claim benefit as well as working.   Other payments may be made available to those who don't qualify for this one although we await further guidance on all of this. The scheme will only apply to people notified to self-isolate on or after 28 September 2020.

In order to qualify for the new £500 payment, you must have a positive coronavirus test and you must have been told to self-isolate at home for 14 days.  You have to fulfil all four of these criteria to receive the payment:

  • You are currently receiving Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit.
  • You are employed or self-employed
  • You are unable to work from home and will lose income as a result
  • You have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace

 

The government has made clear you will only be eligible for the £500 payment if you have been told to isolate by NHS Test and Trace. However, this only generally applies to people who've either tested positive for coronavirus, who are close contacts of someone who tested positive.  This means that you won't get the payment if you self-isolate after displaying symptoms but haven't had a test.

We will provide further information as soon as it is known.


Updated: Wednesday 23rd September (16:30)