WHAT THIS SITUATION MEANS TO YOU – RIGHT NOW
With so much information being released and constantly changing, we have summarised below the info you need to know.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
Employees are now eligible to receive SSP (at £94.25 per week) if they need to self-isolate because of coronavirus. They will also be able to receive their SSP from day one, rather than from the fourth day of their absence from work. SSP will be payable to those staying at home on government advice, as well as those who are infected, e.g. if someone in your household is sick and you are self-isolating.
If employees need to provide evidence to their employer that they need to stay at home due to coronavirus, they will be able to get it from the NHS 111 online service instead of having to get a fit note from their doctor. This service has just been launched today (20 March).
What if I’m self-employed?
Those affected by coronavirus will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s credit up front without physically attending a job centre. The notes available from the NHS 111 online service will also be accepted by job centres as evidence of not being able to attend.
New Employment Support Allowance (ESA) claimants usually need to wait seven days before being eligible for their money, but this will now not apply if they are suffering from coronavirus or are required to stay at home. Instead it will be payable from day one.
HMRC have also relaxed the rules surrounding claiming Universal Credit to make it easier to claim during the period of the outbreak. The ‘Minimum Income Floor’ for the self-employed who have been affected by the economic impact of the pandemic will be removed, meaning they can access Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay.
In addition, self-employed individuals will not be required to make the second payment on account for the year ending 5 April 2020, which was due on 31 July 2020, and instead will be able to pay the outstanding tax liability in full on 31 January 2021. No interest or penalties will be charged for not making the payment due on 31 July 2020.
Despite the above, there is growing opinion that more should be done for the self-employed and therefore this is an areas where we could see further changes in the coming days.
How does this affect other government benefits?
Disabled and sick claimants who cannot attend a reassessment for their Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or ESA, due to coronavirus, will continue to receive their payments while their assessment is rearranged. Claimants who are staying at home as a result of coronavirus will have their mandatory work search and work availability requirements removed to account for a period of sickness.
Tenants and Landlords
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced that emergency legislation is being implemented to stop new evictions from both social and private rented accommodation amidst the national emergency. Landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period, and it seems that this will apply to both Section 8 and Section 21 evictions.
The government has also been working to widen the ‘pre-action protocol’ on possession proceedings. This means that prior to landlords starting proceedings to evict a tenant, there is an increased burden on the landlords to make every effort to work with tenants to try and resolve the issue privately before taking the matter to court.
The government have also recognised the additional financial pressures on landlords, confirming that the three-month mortgage payment holiday (announced on the 17th March) will be extended to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulty due to the virus.
At the end of this period, it seems that landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to create an affordable repayment plan.
For more information please get in touch with Sarah Axe