Benefits during coronavirus

Last updated: 17/04/2020

This section has information on changes to tax credits and benefits including Child Benefit, disability benefits, Carer’s Allowance and Best Start grants.

If you get Working Tax Credits or Child Tax Credits 

From 23 May 2020, a change in the rules means that you can remain entitled to working tax credit during the coronavirus pandemic. This applies to you if you are:

  • a furloughed employee;
  • an employee and your employer has notified that you are not required to work due to coronavirus;
  • an employee or self-employed worker and you have had to reduce your hours or stop work temporarily due to coronavirus; or
  • unable to work as you are shielding because you or another person in your household has been notified that they are clinically extremely vulnerable due to coronavirus

You are treated as still working your normal hours (at least 16, 24 or 30 hours a week) during these circumstances.

You don’t need to report a change in your working hours if you are working less due to coronavirus.

But you should tell HMRC about permanent changes – for example if you’re made redundant or your hours change permanently. Phone the Tax Credit helpline on 0345 300 3900 or report online.

Because of the coronavirus outbreak, the government are increasing Working Tax Credits by up to £86.67 a month for one year from 6 April 2020. The amount you will get depends on your circumstances. 

If you’re earning less than normal, you should tell HMRC – you might get more money. 

You’ll only get more money if your income drops by £2,500 across the tax year, which runs from 6 April to 5 April. If you say your salary will drop by this much and it doesn’t, you’ll have to pay back any extra money you got.  

If you don’t think your income will drop by that much, you should check if you would get more money on Universal Credit. If you start claiming Universal Credit, you won’t be able to claim Working Tax Credits anymore.  Seek advice before moving to Tax Credits.

If you get Jobseeker’s Allowance 

At the moment you don’t have to search for work or be available for work.

This will continue until at least 29 June 2020. It doesn’t matter what your jobseeker’s agreement says.

If you get Housing Benefit

You might be able to get more money if you’re earning less because of coronavirus.

Let your local council know as soon as possible.

You might qualify for a council tax reduction if your income has dropped or if you started claiming benefits recently.

Child Benefit

If you have a new baby, you can still claim Child Benefit even if you have not yet managed to register your child’s birth. First time parents will need to fill in Child Benefit Claim form CH2. This can be done online or printed off and sent to the Child Benefit Office. If you haven’t registered the birth because of COVID-19, you should add a note to say this. If you already claim Child Benefit, you can complete the form or add your new-born’s details over the phone on 0300 200 3100. You will need your National Insurance number. 

Recovery of benefit overpayments suspended 

DWP have suspended deductions for benefit overpayments, Social Fund loans and Tax Credit debts but there has been a delay in amending benefit payments. The DWP are working their way through them and you don’t need to contact them. Most deductions will be suspended automatically, however if you currently make repayments through a Bank Standing Order, Bank Giro Credit or through online banking, please contact your bank to cancel your arrangement. 

Local Authorities are looking at the deductions from Housing Benefit and at present these deductions are still being taken from your Housing Benefit entitlement. 

The recovery of advances by deduction from Universal Credit payments will continue. For further info see government news. 

Sickness and Disability benefits 

There will be no new reviews or reassessments of existing benefits for three months and the DWP has extended end dates for awards that are due to expire. 

Face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits have been suspended for the next 3 months including for any new claims. 

You can still make new applications for most benefits online. Jobcentres remain open and will continue to support people who are not able to use phones and online, including homeless people. You now have three months to return applications for PIP, Child DLA or Attendance Allowance 

If you want to claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP)you can’t do this online. Step one: To start your claim call the DWP on 0800 917 2222. They can now send you the and complete PIP2 form electronically and Part 1 by phone.  Part 2 will be sent out to you, and you now have 90 days to complete and return the form and send it back.  Seek help to complete Part 2.  Phone Scotland’s Citizens Advice Helpline on 0800 028 1456. 

If you claim Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and you have been invited to claim PIP, no action is needed now. DLA payments will continue and the DWP will be in touch in the future to discuss the claim for PIP.

People receiving benefits don’t have to attend jobcentre appointments for at least 3 months. You will continue to receive your benefits as normal. 

If you get Carer’s Allowance 

You will still be paid even if you are unable to provide 35 hours’ care due to self-isolation or infection with coronavirus either of yourself or the person you care for; this will not be counted as a break in care. The care provided does not have to be in person where the carer or cared-for person is self-isolating. 

Carer’s Allowance Supplement will be paid as normal in June and December. The qualifying date for the June payment is 13 April 2020. An extra payment of £230.10 will be paid this June, on top of the planned £230.10 Carer’s Allowance Supplement.

If you want any information on Carers Allowance Supplement please call the Lone Parent Helpline on 0808 801 0323 or see the Scottish Government website

Best Start Grants – Changes

Pregnancy and Baby Payments – normally, for a baby under 6 months old  

Early Learning Payment normally, for a child between 2 years and 3 years 6 months old  

If you can’t apply on time because of coronavirus, the Scottish Government will consider your application anyway. If you’re under 18 you don’t need to be getting any benefits to be eligible for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment. If you’ve now turned 18 and you missed applying earlier because of coronavirus, you can make a late application.

Funeral Support Payment 

If you couldn’t apply for Funeral Support Payment within six months of the funeral taking place because of disruption caused by coronavirus, an application will still be considered. 

Young Carer Grant

A young carer normally needs to be under 19 years but if you couldn’t apply before turning 19 because of coronavirus, an application will still be considered.