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Coronavirus, Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and claiming benefits

The coronavirus has caused a lot of uncertainty around many things, including 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

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

If you’re eligible for SSP this is paid by your employer. If your employer is unsure whether you’re eligible or not, visit the SSP page on the government website to find out more.

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 from your employer, you may find this money isn't enough to cover your usual outgoings.

If you think SSP isn’t enough to support you, you can also put in a claim for Universal Credit. However, if you're worried about your financial situation, you should contact us for free, expert debt advice as early as possible.

  • 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

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:

  • Contributory Employment and Support Allowance - This can now be paid from the first day of sickness
  • Universal Credit - You can now claim this over the phone if you're unable to attend a Job Centre due to self-isolation. Emergency Universal Credit loans are now available to people affected by coronavirus. This means you can request to receive your first payment straight away if you need it urgently. However, this is a loan and will be paid back from your Universal Credit payments over the following 12 months (24 months from October 2020). If you stop claiming UC, you will still have to pay this back

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

If you're already claiming benefits that require you to meet certain conditions in order to receive your payments, but are unable to carry out any of the required tasks, 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 the last three years, up to £2,500 a month.

This grant will be available to people across the UK for at least three months. However, this will be paid in one lump sum and payments won't begin to be processed until the start of June 2020 at the earliest.

The following have been temporarily removed to help self-employed and gig workers:

  • Universal Credit (UC) minimum payment floor - This means that self-employed people on low earnings will be able to get the same amount of UC as an employed person would
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) waiting days - This means that contribution-based ESA will be available from day one, rather than having to wait seven days for a payment

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 businesses and self-employed people who have been affected by the outbreak.

The government has launched ‘bounce back loans’ for small businesses for between £2,000 and £50,000, available within 24 hours. 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. Please be aware that if you are self-employed and struggling with your debts, you should 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. Why not use our free online benefits calculator to find out if you’re entitled to any extra benefits. The checker has been updated in line with the latest benefits changes that have taken place in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

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