The recent coronavirus pandemic has made the economy of UK stand in front of a big question mark – ‘what will be the next’? While Covid-19 positive cases have crossed 194,000 and death trolls raised to 29,000, the economy has totally shattered. Social distancing and lockdown have created major impacts on the common public. Currently, there is no work and everyone is locked up under their room, without any guaranty of life and work. In this high time, to help its citizens in a better way, the UK government has revised its welfare benefit schemes.
Here you can get a brief glimpse of it:
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) reforms:
The Prime Minister of UK announced on 4th March that the government will do necessary changes in the SSP to make it more effective and no one has to be punished for doing what is right in the crisis. The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) Regulations 2020 came on the light on 12th March with required changes. As per the new amendment, if you are sick or possible Covid-19 positive, you can apply for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
The new bill has 2 chief modifications.
As per clause number 37 & 40, the Commissioner of HMRC can directly fund employers in order to make SSP related expenses due to Covid-19. The HMRC will fund through advance and arrears.The HMRC can also deduct the current National Insurance liabilities of the employer in order to process the funding.
As per clause number 38 & 41, the Secretary of State can do changes to revise the ‘waiting days’ for SSP payouts. As per the changes, employees who are seek, will get their SSP benefits right from the 1st day of nonattendance, instead of the 4th day of illness.
Moreover, schedule 6 and clauses 7 & 8 implement a new type of urgent voluntary leave. Employees can attain urgent volunteering certificate from appropriate authority and take leaves for 2, 3, or 4 successive weeks to take part in social or health services. The Secretary of State will compensate the financial losses for those volunteers.
However, the eligibility criterion for SSP will remain the same. Those who do not fulfill the SSP criterion, can alternatively apply for Universal Credit or new-style Employment Support Allowance.
Information for existing claimants:
The existing claimants will continue to get their benefits without any possible interruption. Starting from 24th March 2020, the DWP will not conduct any reassessments or reviews for the vulnerable persons. And it will not impact the monthly allowance. This provision is applicable for a wide number of welfare benefits including Universal Credit, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Employment and Support Allowance, etc.
The DWP has also postponed all types of face-to-face appointments for illness and disability-related purposes. This temporary measure is for the next 3 months and it also enrolls new applicants. Those whose claims for Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit are on hold for review, will get notification from DWP to process the claims.
Information on Housing:
Using your Universal Credit benefits, you can also pay for your rents and housing expenses. After April, the charges for Local Housing Allowance will increase to 30% compared to the market price. The amendment is applicable for all types of renters, including existing and fresh Universal Credit claimants. This also covers those who are already getting Housing Benefits. The government’s announcement has also made mortgage payees happy as they do not have to pay their mortgages for the next three months. This will help them save their money in this hard time and put on emergency expenses.
For those who are self-employed and applying for Universal Credit benefits, there is no minimum earning bar for them. This modification is valid for the entire time of the outbreak. For fresh applicants, they do not have to be present for Jobcentre interviews to provide their self-employment related information. However, DWP will do a telephonic interview if required. While DWP will decide the allowance for Universal Credit, they will not count the business assets of the self-employed applicants. These business assets refer to business account balance, machineries, etc.
For those self-employed persons whose earnings have been very much affected due to Covid-19, the DWP has announced the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) for them. By this, they will get back 80% off their revenues, up to a maximum monthly limit of £2,500. One may also apply for Universal Credit along with applying for SEISS benefits.