Use the Coronavirus Support Finder to see what help and advice you can get from the Government and other organisations. You can use it for yourself or someone else.
During the outbreak of COVID-19, the Government has provided the City of Wolverhampton Council with more than £43 million to help constituents with living costs, getting food and other essentials, and support for your business. Find out how to contact the Council here. In September 2021, the Government announced a new £500 million Household Support Fund to help vulnerable families this winter assist those who are at risk of struggling to keep up with their bills this winter – cash grants will be available from October for daily needs such as food, clothing, and utilities, and those who require support should contact their local councils.
From April 2021, workers on the National Living Wage will receive a 2.2 per cent increase to £8.91 per hour – worth over £345 a year for a full-time worker. The Government is also extending the NLW to those aged 23 or over (currently 25+). The National Minimum Wage will be increased as well. These increases will benefit around 2 million people – a full-time worker on the National Living Wage will see their pay rise by £345 next year, an effective increase of over £4,000 since the policy was introduced in 2016. If you have a dispute with your employer, at risk of redundancy, or want to request additional support in the workplace, contact ACAS, the Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service. If you think you haven’t been paid correctly, you can report this to HMRC. Reporting is simple, can be made anonymously or even on behalf of someone else: www.gov.uk/minimum-wage-complaint. If you would prefer to talk your situation through with someone on the phone first, you can call the Acas Helpline on 0300 123 1100. You do not have to give your name if you don’t want to.
Eligible customers can now claim tax relief for additional household costs if they have to work at home on a regular basis, either for all or part of the week. Additional costs include heating, metered water bills, or business calls that have been incurred wholly, exclusively, and necessarily as a direct result of working from home. They don’t include costs that would stay the same whether employees are working at home or in an office. Eligible customers can apply quickly and easily using the HMRC online service, which is now open for claims covering periods up to 5 April 2022. For more information go to working at home on GOV.UK. Employees who have to complete a Self Assessment tax return will need to claim working from home expenses via the employment income pages of their tax return instead of the digital service.
Support for Carers
Carers UK provides support to carers and those they care for. Their helpline is 0808 808 7777. The main cash benefits for those caring for disabled people is Carer’s Allowance, and the carer premium payable with means-tested benefits which includes a carer element. As of November 2020, there were around 1240 carers in Wolverhampton South West claiming Carers Allowance. In 2019/20, the value of support was approximately £4.3 million. Those who care for someone for at least 20 hours a week may be eligible for Carer’s Credit. It is a National Insurance credit that helps with gaps in National Insurance records. A person’s State Pension is based on their National Insurance Record. Income, savings or investments won’t affect eligibility.
Carers are entitled to a statutory assessment of their support needs, undertaken by the local authority. The assessment must consider a range of factors such as what assistance the carer requires to continue providing care, and their own independent needs. The City of Wolverhampton Council can be contacted via telephone on 01902 553409 or email, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Disabled Facilities Grant aims to support disabled and older people in making adaptations to their home so they can live in them safely and independently, enabling carers to continue their role safely. Adaptations can include ramps, stair lifts, and suitable heating systems. In 2020/21, the Grant has been increased to £573 million. It is part of the Better Care Fund, which includes a grant that has also seen local authorities receive over £2 billion to support social care activity. The Carers Trust has a network of quality assured partners and provides grants to help carers get the extra help they need to live their own lives.
Support for Children and Families
The Family Fund provides grants to low-income families caring for disabled children or seriously ill children. The Government has committed £8 million to the Fund, with a further £13.5 million in response to the outbreak of COVID-19. The Government has established a £220 million Holiday Activities and Food Programme to provide enriching activities and a healthy meal for disadvantaged children in the Easter, Summer, and Christmas holidays in 2021 - with £1,870,890 allocated to the City of Wolverhampton. This provides funding up to the end of 2021-22 and supports the government’s commitment to establish a Flexible Childcare Fund to increase the availability of affordable flexible childcare. There will also be an increase in Healthy Start payments from £3.10 to £4.25 a week from April 2021. You can get an application form online, from your midwife or ‘health visitor’, or by phoning the Healthy Start helpline on 0345 607 6823. Find out if your child or children are eligible for free school meals here. In March 2021, the Government allocated the City of Wolverhampton Council £369,174 to to keep vulnerable children warm and well-fed this Easter. The 16 to 19 Bursary Fund can vulnerable children in receipt of benefits help with education-related costs for those aged 16 to 19 and either studying at a publicly funded school or college in England, or are on a training course, including unpaid work experience. It can help with the costs of clothing, books, and equipment as well as transport and lunch on study days. Eligible families can save money on their childcare and benefit from a government top-up worth up to £2,000 every year, or up to £4,000 a year if a child is disabled. In June 2021, about 308,000 families across the UK benefited from using Tax-Free Childcare, but thousands are missing out on this opportunity.
Call Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline for free and confidential advice, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247 or through the contact form or live chat service. If you are a male victim, you can access support through the Men’s Advice Helpline on 0808 8010327. Other specialist support services are available. If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police.
We are providing £670 million to help vulnerable families with their council tax bills. This will benefit over 3.5 million vulnerable families around £150 each. This builds on last year's fund of £500 million. The Government will also fund £140 million of Discretionary Housing Payments in 2021-22 to support those who are most in need on Housing Benefit and the Housing Element of Universal Credit to stay in their homes.
Since 2019 - the year in which Stuart was elected as MP - the number of rough sleepers in Wolverhampton has more than halved. The number in England has fallen by 37 per cent in the last year to a six year low. Yet, there is still more to do. In addition to our ‘Everyone In’ programme, which has supported around 37,000 vulnerable people in the last year, we will invest £750 million next year to tackle homelessness and deliver 6,000 new long term homes for rough sleepers, so that no one returns to living on the streets. We have also committed an additional £3.2 million for local authorities to tackle rough sleeping. This is on top of the £492 million already committed to address homelessness and rough sleeping in 2020/21, and the £3.2 billion support for councils during Covid-19. Get local help here.
We are extending the stamp duty cut to avoid purchases not completing in time for the end of March. The £500,000 nil rate band will end on the 30th of June, before tapering down to £250,000 until the end of September (60 per cent of buyers will pay no stamp duty), before returning to its normal level of £125,000 from the 1st of October. From April 2021, lenders who commit to providing loan-to-value ratios of between 91 to 95 per cent can get a government guarantee on the full value of those mortgages.
For those in difficulty due to COVID-19, we have introduced a three-month mortgage holiday – so that people will not have to pay a penny towards their mortgage while they get back on their feet. We have also extended the mortgage holiday to Buy to Let landlords struggling because of tenants being unable to meet their rental repayments.
A new scheme will help first time buyers or current homeowners secure a mortgage with just a 5% deposit to buy a house of up to £600,000 – providing an affordable route to home ownership for aspiring home-owners. The Government will offer lenders the guarantee they need to provide mortgages that cover the other 95%, subject to the usual affordability checks. The scheme is available from high street lenders such as Lloyds, Santander, Barclays, HSBC and NatWest. Virgin Money will also take part.
The Government has agreed measures with the energy industry to help people and businesses. Suppliers have frozen energy disconnections for those on regular credit meters. For those with prepaid meters who are unable to top up due to self-isolation, suppliers may offer postal delivery of top-up credit or automated addition to accounts. Energy firms are also offering forbearance to vulnerable customers on a voluntary basis. We have also agreed measures with the UK’s major telecommunications providers to support vulnerable consumers. OFWAT is working with the water industry to support households struggling to pay water bills. Consumers are encouraged to contact their providers as soon as possible.
We are providing consumers with 0% interest on the first £500 of an arranged overdraft for three months – consumers without arranged overdrafts may request this facility. We will allow consumers either a 3-month payment holiday or to make nominal payments towards credit cards, store cards, catalogue credit and certain personal loan agreements. Customers should contact their lender if they are experiencing short-term cash flow problems.
We know that some people are struggling with their finances during this difficult time, which is why we want to make sure people can access the help and support they need to manage their debts and get their finances back on track. That is why an extra £37.8 million support package will be available to debt advice providers this year (20-21) so they can continue to provide essential services to help more people who are struggling with their finances due to coronavirus. This extra funding comes on top of the unprecedented package we have put in place to support individuals, businesses and the economy through the coronavirus outbreak. If you need help managing your money you can get free debt advice or information from the Money Advice Service.
The Government has provided an £8 billion boost to the welfare system. Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits have also been increased by the rate of inflation and we have uplifted Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates to the 30th percentile for 2020-21 – meaning over 1.5 million households have benefitted from an additional £600 per year on average. We are keeping LHA at the same cash level in 2021-22, instead of cutting this back to pre-covid rates, which were significantly less generous.
We have expanded Statutory Sick Pay so that employees can claim if they are ill, clinically extremely vulnerable, or asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. We have also changed the rules so that SSP is payable from day one rather than day four. Additionally, the SPP rebate scheme reimburses employers with fewer than 250 employees for up to two weeks SSP per employee. Those on contributory Employment and Support Allowance can also now claim from day 1, not day 8.
People who are instructed to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace and are on a low income, unable to work from home and will lose income as a result, may be entitled to a payment of £500 from their local authority. Those who are not in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits, but who meet the other criteria and will face hardship while self-isolating, may be eligible for a £500 discretionary payment. As of 15 January, local authorities had paid over £35 million to over 70,000 eligible individuals.#
We are uprating the State Pension by 2.5 per cent, benefitting over 12 million pensioners. The Standard Minimum Guarantee in Pension Credit will also increase in 2021-22 by the weekly cash increase in the full rate of the basic State Pension. Pension Credit benefits over 1.5 million lower income pensioners.
LAST UPDATED: 30/09/2021.