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Coronavirus, Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and claiming benefits

Coronavirus has caused financial uncertainty for lots of people, leaving many unsure where they stand when it comes to benefits and SSP. This section explains:

  1. Self-isolating and SSP
  2. What to do if you don't qualify for SSP
  3. How you could be affected if you're already claiming benefits
  4. What to do if you're self-employed
  5. Find out what benefits you might be entitled to

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1. I've been told to self-isolate, but SSP won't cover my bills

You may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) (paid from the first day of sickness) if you've been affected by coronavirus and have to self-isolate.

How it works:

  • If you’re eligible for SSP, this is paid by your employer
  • You may also be eligible for SSP if you're caring for someone you live with who is showing coronavirus symptoms and has been told to self-isolate

If you receive SSP, you may find this money isn't enough to cover your usual outgoings. If so, you can also make a claim for Universal Credit.

Details of SSP:

  • Statutory Sick Pay is £95.85 per week
  • It can be paid for up to 28 weeks
  • You must earn at least £120 per week to qualify

If you fall ill while on the Job Support Scheme, and are unsure whether you're eligible for SSP, you can find out more here.

2. What if I'm not eligible for SSP?

If you're not eligible for SSP, there are other options available which you may be eligible for:

  • New style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) – You can claim ESA if you have a disability or health condition that affects how much you can work. This can now be paid from the first day of sickness
  • New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)JSA is a fortnightly payment can be claimed if you’re unemployed or work less than 16 hours a week
  • Universal Credit (UC) - You can now claim UC online, and by telephone. Universal Credit advance loans are also available to people affected by coronavirus – so you can request your first payment straight away if you need it urgently. However, this is a loan and will be paid back from your UC payments over the following 12 months. If you stop claiming UC, you will still have to pay this back
  • Self-isolation grant – If you're on benefits you can claim £500 from your Local Authority for each period of Test and Trace self-isolation

3. I'm already claiming benefits, will they be affected?

If you're already claiming benefits but are unable to carry out the required tasks to receive your payments, you must contact the relevant office to let them know as soon as possible.

If you're claiming Universal Credit, make sure you also use your online journal to explain why you can't complete your required tasks.

4. I'm self-employed, how will this affect me?

If you're self-employed, you can apply for a grant worth 80% of your average monthly profits over three months. This grant is paid in one lump sum and is capped at a maximum of £7,500.

The deadline to apply for this grant is 30 September 2021.

The following schemes could help self-employed and gig workers:

  • Universal Credit (UC) - Self-employed people on low earnings are currently able to get the same amount of UC as an employed person, based on their actual earnings
  • New style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) – If you have a disability or health condition that affects how much you can work, or you or your child have been affected by coronavirus, you could apply for ESA

If you're self-employed and are worried about not being able to pay your tax due to coronavirus, HMRC has launched a new helpline to support affected businesses and self-employed people.

The government offers ‘bounce back loans’ for small businesses for between £2,000 and £50,000. The loans are 100% state-backed, with the government paying the first 12 months of interest. These loans are in addition to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme now available for the self-employed.

Need help? If you are self-employed and struggling with your debts, you can contact Business Debtline.

5. What benefits am I entitled to?

If you’re struggling financially it’s important to make sure you’re getting all the income you’re entitled to. Use our free online benefits calculator to find out if you could claim any extra help.

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