Financial support for residents
If you currently receive benefits but your income has changed due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is really important that you let us know so that we can adjust the amount you’re entitled to. To do this complete our online ‘change of circumstances’ form or call us on 020 8937 1800 to discuss your situation.
You can also use our benefit calculator to help you check that you are receiving everything you are entitled to.
If you need financial support due to a change in your circumstances, you may be entitled to some of the financial measures put in place by the Government, including:
Test and Trace Support Payment
Job retention scheme
Taking time off for illness or self-isolation (Statutory Sick Pay)
Contribution-based welfare benefits
Applying for Universal Credit
Help paying your council tax
Help with your rent
Advice on paying your mortgage
Debt and loan repayments
Claiming free school meals
Paying your utility bills
For more information about coronavirus and claiming benefits, visit the Department for Work and Pensions website
From 28th September 2020, if you have tested positive for coronavirus or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, you may be entitled to a new Test and Trace Support Payment of £500.
As of 27 January 2021, if you test positive for coronavirus after having a rapid test (Lateral Flow Test), you can now apply for a Test and Trace Support Payment.
From 08th March 2021, if you are the parent or guardian of a child who needs to self-isolate, you might be eligible for the Test and Trace support payment if you need to take time off to look after them.
In order to be eligible for the £500 Test and Trace support payment, you must meet the following criteria:
- You have been told to stay at home and self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or through the NHS COVID-19 app, either because you have tested positive for coronavirus or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive
- You have responded to messages received from NHS Test and Trace and have provided any legally required information
- You’re employed or self-employed
- You cannot work from home and will lose income as a result of self-isolating
- You’re currently receiving or are the partner of someone in the same household who is receiving, at least one of the following benefits:
- Universal Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income Support
- Housing Benefit
- Pension Credit
If you are not on one of these benefits, you could be eligible for a £500 discretionary payment if all of the following apply:
- You meet all the other criteria listed above
- You’re on a low income earning no more than £371.19 per week.
- You will face financial hardship as a result of self-isolating
Parents or guardians of a child who has been told to self-isolate
If you’re not legally required to self-isolate, but you are the parent or guardian of a child who has been told to self-isolate, you could be eligible for a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment or discretionary payment if all the following apply:
You’re the parent or guardian of a child in your household who is self-isolating, and you need to take time off work to care for them.
Your child is aged 15 or under (or 25 or under with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC) and normally attends an education or childcare setting.
Your child has been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or by their education or childcare setting because they have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
You’re unable to work from home and will lose income because you have to care for your child while they are self-isolating.
You meet all the other eligibility criteria for a Test and Trace Support Payment or discretionary payment.
If you want to apply for a Test and Trace Support Payment or a Discretionary Payment, you must do this within 42 days of your first day of self-isolation.
On the application form, please add your unique 8-digit track and trace number provided by NHS Test and Trace received by text or email. Without this unique number, your application may be rejected and you will need to apply again.
We are currently receiving a high volume of applications for Test and Trace payments so you may experience a delay while we process your application. We are processing all applications in date order. For this reason, it is important to ensure all supporting documents are uploaded when completing your online applications. Do this to avoid any further delays to processing your application. Thank you for your patience.
For more information please email us SIP@brent.gov.uk. Please note that by sending us an email does not mean you have applied. You must complete the application if you want us to consider your application.
If you have no resource to public funds but are working and have lost income due to self-isolation, we may be able to help you. Please email us and give us your name, address and contact phone number and we will get back to you.
Your employer can access support to continue paying 80% of your salary, up to a cap of £2,500 per month through the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. You may have heard of this scheme referred to as furloughing.
This enables employers to support employees who otherwise would have been made unemployed because of coronavirus.
Find out more about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme by visiting the Government website.
If you are too ill to work, you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Your employer will pay you £94.25 per week, for a maximum of 28 weeks.
If you are self-isolating because of COVID-19 you can also claim SSP. This has been extended and is now payable from day one not day four. You are also eligible if you have been advised to self-isolate because you are caring for someone in your household who self-isolating.
To check your sick pay entitlement, you should talk to your employer, and visit GOV.UK for more information.
If you have been previously employed and have paid or been credited with the qualifying level of National Insurance contributions you may be eligible for either Job Seekers’ Allowance or Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
ESA is now available from day one not day eight for eligible people unable to work because they are directly affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating.
If your circumstances have changed and you are no longer able to work or your income has dropped due to Coronavirus you may be eligible for Universal Credit.
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) manage universal Credit applications. You will need to apply online at gov.uk. If you need help call them on 0800 328 5644.
Council Tax Support is a welfare benefit that reduces the amount of council tax you need to pay.
Your income will determine the discount you are entitled to, along with your individual circumstances. If your circumstances have changed, and you need help to pay your Council Tax:
- Find out more about Council Tax Support and apply, or
- Call the Council Tax team, on 020 8937 1790
Households in need of emergency financial support can now receive a one-off payment of £150 towards their Council Tax bill. The credits will be made to accounts of working-age Council Tax payers who are eligible for Brent’s Council Tax Support scheme. The emergency funding will also apply to eligible new claims made for Council Tax Support from 1 April 2020 until 31 March 2021.
If you rent your home, and your income has fallen because of coronavirus, the government has put in place new legislation to protect you from the risk of eviction.
Under the new temporary regulations, landlords will not be able to start eviction proceedings for at least a three-month period. This applies to private and social renters.
You must work with your landlord to establish an affordable repayment plan at the end of the 3-month period, taking into account your individual circumstances.
However, you are still responsible for your rent and should pay if you can. If you need help towards the cost of your rent, you may be eligible for:
If you already receive Universal Credit or Housing Benefit, and your rent is higher than the Lower Housing Allowance, your support will increase automatically and you will receive more support from Housing Benefit or Universal Credit in your payments from April 2020.
Discretionary Housing Payments
If you already receive help with housing costs but need extra financial support to pay your rent you may be able to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment.
You can also call the Housing Benefits team, on 020 8937 1800
If you are having difficulties making your mortgage repayments because of Coronavirus, you may be eligible for a mortgage holiday for up to three months. This also extends to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19.
The Government has introduced three-month mortgage holidays to help support you through this period.
The offer of a payment holiday will be available to customers who are up to date with payments and not already in arrears. You will be expected to pay the debt back once the holiday period ends so it is important to understand the implications for future repayments and your mortgage terms.
It is important you contact your mortgage provider at the earliest opportunity to discuss your situation and to see if this option is suitable.
If you are receiving benefits from the DWP, deductions to recover some types of debt have been suspended.
- Previous benefit overpayments
- Housing Benefit overpayments
- Tax Credit overpayments
- Social Fund loans
If you have one of these debts, your repayments will be stopped automatically and will not resume until July 2020 at the earliest.
If you have one of these debts, but are not currently receiving benefits, voluntary debt repayments recovery by Direct Earnings Attachments, and recovery by private sector debt collection agencies, have also temporarily stopped. If you are repaying one of these debts by standing order, bank giro credit or through online banking, contact your bank to cancel your payments for April, May and June.
All other debts will continue to be deducted from your benefits, including Universal Credit advances, rent arrears and Council Tax arrears. If you have one of these debts and are struggling with your repayments, you may be able to have your repayments temporarily suspended:
- Call the Department for Work and Pensions Debt Management contact centre on 0800 916 0647 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm).
To discuss Council Tax arrears:
- Call the Council Tax team, on 020 8937 1790
To get free advice about debts, visit:
If you are experiencing difficulties paying back personal loans or credit card bills due to a change in your household circumstances, then you should talk to your lender as soon as is possible.
Many lenders will use flexibility built into their rules to support people at this time, taking into account customers’ individual circumstances.
If you have children who are eligible for free-school meals, they will continue to receive meals, even if they are unable to attend school due to school closure or self-isolation.
Schools can choose to:
- Continue to provide meals for children who can access the school
- Provide food parcels
- Provide supermarket vouchers
Meals and food vouchers are worth £15 per week, per child and they will continue through the Easter holiday period.
Each school will decide its own approach. Vouchers will be sent directly to families.
The Government has agreed new measures with energy providers to ensure that the most vulnerable customers do not lose access to their energy supply if they find they are unable to pay their bills.
If you have a pre-payment meter, but cannot top-up your meter due to illness or self-isolation, we recommend that you contact your energy provider immediately to talk about the options available to keep your energy supplied.
The government and energy industry have agreed to prioritise those existing customers most in need, while identifying customers whose circumstances may have changed as a direct or indirect result of COVID-19.
Smart meter customers should be able to top-up remotely, such as by phone, mobile application or online.
You can find more information on the Government website.
Help with saving money on your energy bills
Green Doctors can help you to save money on your energy bills. They can also help you to apply for grants for energy/water debt. There is no charge for the service, even your phone call is free. If you are over 65, on a low income, or have a long-term health condition or disability, register for a free phone consultation by calling 0300 365 5003 or emailing GreenDoctorsLDN@groundwork.org.uk
If you need support during a one off emergency, and are entitled to Housing Benefit or certain DWP benefits, you can apply for Local Welfare Assistance
To support families over the winter period, the government has announced a new £170m COVID Winter Grant Scheme to support children, families and other households in need.
The grant will cover the period from December to the end of March 2021. Brent’s allocation will be used to support families with food for children who need it over school holidays. We will be providing families with a £15 voucher per week of the school holidays for the Christmas break and February half-term. Some Brent households will also receive a one-off payment to support with utility bills.
Funds will also be made available to support households without children who are struggling financially due to COVID to access support with food and fuel.