COVID-19 and claiming benefits

25 March 2020

The government has announced that certain benefits will be increased as part of the package of measures to help households affected by COVID-19. This will see the standard rate of Universal Credit and Tax Credits increased by £20 a week (£1,040 per year) for one year from 6 April 2020.

It has earlier been announced as part of the Budget measures that the self-employed are to be provided with easier access to Universal Credits and the Contributory Employment and Support Allowance. This means that the self-employed with no income can effectively claim Universal Credit in the same way as someone who's unemployed. However, there is a five-week waiting period before a first payment is made. An advance payment can be claimed once a claim is accepted but must be paid back. The usual requirement to attend a Jobcentre in person is currently not required and claims can be made on-line.

There will also be up to £1bn of additional support for renters through increases in housing benefit and Universal Credit. From April, Local Housing Allowance rates will pay for at least 30% of market rents in each area. This applies to all private renters who are new or existing Universal Credit housing element claimants and to existing Housing Benefit claimants.