Over the next two months, the Government are making changes to the support introduced during the coronavirus pandemic. This includes the end of the £20 increase (or "uplift") for those claiming Universal Credit, the end of the "furlough" scheme, and your last chance to claim support if you are self-employed.
We know that these changes will have big impact on many local residents, including some of our tenants, and this page sets out on one page what the changes are and how we can help you if the changes put you into financial difficulty.
We know that many tenant cannot afford to lose £20 per week at the moment. That's why we're supporting the #keepthelifeline campaign to retain the £20 Universal Credit uplift. Visit the National Housing Federation website to find out more about the campaign.
What can I do if any of this affects me?
Our Money Advice Team can offer free, confidential advice if you are affected by any of these changes, or if you are struggling financially in any way. We can advise on benefit claims and disputes, debt and budgeting to help you get back on your feet.
Please call our dedicated Income Services Team on Freephone 0800 027 7769 (option 2 - lines are open Monday to Friday 8am until 5pm). You can also e-mail the team at email@example.com.
COVID-19 Benefit Changes - what does this mean for me?
Universal Credit - £20 per week uplift
In April 2020 the government awarded all claimants of Universal Credit £20 per week extra Standard Allowance to help with additional expenses during the Coronavirus outbreak.
This was extended to 6th October 2021 but is now being phased out. If you claim Universal Credit, you may get a message in your journal to advise you that this extra money is ending.
How much will I lose?
As Universal Credit is worked out monthly, the amount lost per month is £86.67. This is taken from your Standard Allowance and does not affect amounts you get for children, housing, capability for work or anything else.
When will I be affected?
Check your assessment period. This is the date you are paid Universal Credit from and to every month. You can see this on any payment statement in your Universal Credit account.
Your extra payment will end on the first assessment period payment after 6th October 2021.
Universal Credit – Minimum Income Floor
From March 2020 if you were self-employed the DWP stopped using the Minimum Income Floor when calculating Universal Credit payments, to help those that were struggling due to Coronavirus. This was reintroduced on 31st July 2021, so if your income from self-employment is low, you may be treated as having higher earnings than you actually make. This can mean your Universal Credit is reduced.
What is the Minimum Income Floor and how will it affect me?
If you are classed as gainfully self-employed (basically, your business is both organised properly and your main source of income) the DWP may not use your actual earnings to work out your income, if your earnings are less than the Minimum Income Floor.
The Floor is the amount you’d be expected to earn for your age in full-time employment at the national minimum wage. If your business earns you less than this, you’ll be treated as if you have earned this amount and may get less Universal Credit as a result.
If your self-employment is not counted as gainful you may instead be expected to look for work whilst you grow your business.
Universal Credit - Trust and Protect Scheme
At the start of the pandemic the DWP processed Universal Credit claims without people needing to provide certain evidence such as identification, so that payments were not delayed – this was called Trust and Protect.
The DWP are now in the process of contacting people who submitted claims as part of this scheme to request this evidence. If you do not respond or provide the requested documents your claim may be cancelled and your Universal Credit payments will stop.
The DWP will contact people either via their journal or by telephone (which may show as a withheld number).
Self Employed Income Support Scheme
Self Employed Income Support Scheme
Throughout the pandemic the government has made grant payments under this scheme to qualifying self-employed people, to help with reduced income from the effects of coronavirus on their businesses.
The fifth and last grant is now available and must be claimed by 30th September 2021. After this, the scheme ends.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ("Furlough")
Commonly known as ‘furlough’ the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is ending from 30th September 2021.
Under this scheme the government has refunded employers up to a set percentage of their employees’ wages, so that employers can pay staff who are unable to work because the business is closed or restricted.
The level of support provided through the scheme reduced in July, and from August 2021 to when the scheme ends in September 2021 the maximum wage grant for furloughed staff is 60% of their wage (previously this was 80%).
The maximum payable is also £1,875 per month; which has been reduced from the £2,500 through most of the scheme.
How might this affect me?
Firstly, the hope is that furlough should be less and less necessary as businesses re-open.
The danger might be that employers having to use the scheme can’t afford to pay, or won’t pay, to top up these payments to your full wage. This might be more likely now that the support from the government is lower.
Any businesses who have been heavily reliant on furlough payments may have struggled and there may be a greater danger of them making redundancies when they stop getting help from the government.