Advice about benefits
If your income has dropped or ceased due to the COVID-19 pandemic and you need to claim benefits visit www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit for more information. There are various support options available and you may be able to claim welfare benefits to supplement your household income.
People applying for Universal Credit or other benefits should not go to a jobcentre but apply for them online.
Universal Credit Helpline: 0800 328 5644.
If you already receive benefits, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced that people receiving benefits no longer need to attend jobcentre appointments. People will continue to receive their benefits as normal but all requirements to attend the jobcentre in person are suspended.
These changes will be in place for three months from Thursday 19 March 2020.
If you are already receiving Housing Benefit and your income has changed, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the details and attach any evidence you have.
Discretionary Housing Payments
If you are already receiving Housing Benefit or have rent costs paid within your Universal Credit, and you are struggling to pay your rent, you may be able to claim a Discretionary Housing Payment which is a payment to yourself or your landlord to cover any shortfall in your rent payments.
To apply online go to Discretionary Housing Payment.
Council Tax Support
If changes in your income mean you cannot afford to pay your Council Tax, you can apply for Council Tax Support, which is a discount that is applied directly to your Council Tax account.
If you are already receiving Council Tax Support and your income has changed, please email email@example.com with the details and attach any evidence you have.
To make a new application online go to Council Tax Support.
The Government has announced that further support will be available in the form of a hardship fund. Billing authorities will provide all recipients of working age local council tax support (‘LCTS') during the financial year 2020-21 with a further reduction in their annual council tax bill of £150.
Where a taxpayer's liability for 2020-21 is, following the application of council tax support, less than £150, then their liability would be reduced to nil. Where a taxpayer's liability for 2020-21 is nil, no reduction to the council tax bill will be available.
There is no need for any recipient of Council Tax Support to make a separate claim for a reduction under this scheme. The council will assess who is eligible for support from the hardship fund and automatically rebill those council taxpayers. Whether or not a taxpayer has been affected by COVID-19, directly or indirectly, should not be taken into account in assessing eligibility for this reduction.
South Staffs council is in the process of identifying these cases and the reduction will be applied to council tax bills within the next couple of weeks.
If you are unable to apply online or would like to discuss any of this in more detail, please call the Benefits team at South Staffordshire Council.
Tel: 01902 696668
Turn2us is a national charity helping people when times get tough and they will be able to advise you about claiming a variety of benefits and any additional support you may be entitled to.
For more information go to https://www.turn2us.org.uk/
Citizens Advice Bureau
Adviceline: 03444 111 444