Customers Impacted by Covid-19
We at Platform understand that this is a particularly worrying time for everyone. The changes, and the speed at which they are happening, can be very unsettling - so we want you to know that we are here to help you at this time.
There is a lot of information out there, and some gets a bit complicated, so we’re trying to keep things simple for you with the list of FAQs you can find below.
We also have a self-service benefits and budget calculator available on this website, which can help you easily work out what additional support you may be entitled to and make a budget, you can find this here.
You can also find support from external organisations. To search your area for Covid-19 mutual aid groups please click here.
Paying your rent
If you are still able to pay your rent, we encourage you to do so. Paying by Direct Debit is the easiest and most convenient method of payment. If you would like to set this method of payment up on your rent account, or to discuss your options, please contact the income team on 0333 200 7304, selecting option 1.
Advice and information for those already receiving a benefit
- Local Jobcentre offices are now open to the public, with some Covid-19 measures in place. You may be asked to attend a face to face appointment and should therefore do so.
A number of appointments are still being held over the telephone, but this is changing frequently, so make sure that this is the option being offered as you may be required to attend a face to face appointment now.
Jobcentres continue to be open to support people who are not able to use the phone or get online.
The £20 per week increase which was put in place from 09/04/19 is scheduled to be removed from October 2021.
You can also find out more on from the official Universal Credit website:
Benefits and Budgeting advice for those who are/were working
If you’ve found yourself with a reduced income, or even no income at all, you may be wondering where to start. Don’t panic, we are here to help you through these changing times. We have a dedicated team of Rent Support Officers who can help you check to see if you might be entitled to financial assistance and guide you through the process of making claims. If you have never claimed a benefit, or if it’s been a while and you’re not sure about how to, please get in touch with us at email@example.com or call 0333 200 7304 and ask to speak to the Welfare Reform & Tenancy Sustainment Team! We can guide you through this over the phone or give advice via email. You can also watch this short YouTube video explaining how the claiming process works: Universal Credit Overview
It may be important to reassess your finances. Make a budget - list everything you spend. You may need to try and cut some costs to help you afford extra spending on electric/ gas and water for example.
You may need guidance to access further support if your outgoings include ‘non-priority’ debts. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can point you in the right direction for free advice which is licensed by the Financial Conduct Authority.
If you feel able to explore benefits yourself, we have a self-service benefits and budgeting calculator available on this website which can help you work out what additional support you may be entitled to, and make a budget. You can access this at www.platformhg.com/money-advice . You have the option to email your results to us at email@example.com for a follow up call if you're unsure about the results. Just make sure to give us your name and the first line of your address so that we can find you on the system.
If you have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told to self-isolate on or after 28 September 2020, you’re under a legal obligation to do so, and could be eligible for a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/test-and-trace-support-payment-scheme-claiming-financial-support
The government also has a section about furlough on their website: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/worker-support
Advice for zero-hours workers
Those who are not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay or those who lose their jobs will be able to claim either ‘New Style Jobseekers’ Allowance’ or Universal Credit from the first day they are out of work.
You may also be able to apply for Universal Credit if on reduced hours.
You can find out more on the Universal Credit website: https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/
If you are employed and have caring responsibilities
If you are employed, have caring responsibilities and have been advised to self-isolate by NHS 111 or a medical professional, you must tell your employer as soon as possible. This does not need to be in writing. Your workplace’s usual sick leave and pay entitlements will apply. The government has promised that Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be given from day one of self-isolation. You should check your contract of employment to see if your employer offers contractual sick pay on top. You may also be asked to certify your absence.
By law, for the first seven days of sickness, you are not required to provide medical evidence to your employer. However, after seven days, it is at the discretion of your employer to decide what evidence, if any, they need from you. If you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can get an ‘isolation note’ by visiting NHS 111 online, rather than visiting a doctor.
For workers that are ineligible for SSP, support will be available through Universal Credit (https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/) and contributory Employment and Support Allowance (https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance).
If you are employed and need to take time off to help someone
If you need to take time off to help someone else, as an employee you also have a statutory right to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off from work to see to an emergency or unforeseen matter involving your partner, child, parent, grandchild, or someone who relies on you for care. There is no fixed amount of time you can take off. The time off is unpaid unless your employer is willing to give paid time off as a contractual right, check your work policy on care leave.
Benefits advice for if you are off sick
If you are staying at home because of COVID-19 you can now claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). This includes people who are caring for people in the same household and therefore have been advised to do a household quarantine.
The Government has said that SSP is to be paid from day 1 of your absence from work if you are absent from work due to sickness or need to stay at home due to COVID-19.
To check your sick pay entitlement, you should talk to your employer. You can get £95.85 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re too ill to work. It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.
If you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can get an ‘isolation note’ by visiting NHS 111 online, rather than visiting a doctor. For COVID-19 cases this replaces the usual need to provide a ‘fit note’ (sometimes called a ‘sick note’) after 7 days of sickness absence.
For further information visit: https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay
If you are not eligible for SSP – for example if you earn below the Lower Earnings Limit of £120 per week – and you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can make a claim for Universal Credit and/or new style Employment and Support Allowance.
Benefits advice if you have been laid off
If your employer has terminated your employment you can claim ‘New Style Jobseekers’ Allowance’ and/or Universal Credit to help with living and housing costs.
From October 2021 the temporary £20 per week increase in the Standard Allowance of Universal Credit and the basic element of Working Tax Credit will be removed.
You can find out more on from the official Universal Credit website: https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/
Advice for if you have been furloughed
The Furlough scheme will end on 30/09/21.
Our partners at Citizens Advice, Money Advice Service and Stepchange have a wealth of information available to help people whose health and finances have been affected by the current situation.
Citizens Advice: If you can't pay your bills because of coronavirus
Money Advice Service: Coronavirus Money Guidance
Stepchange: Coronavirus and your finances
You can also access free debt advice from:
Christians Against Poverty: CAP Debt Help
Payplan: Payplan debt advice
National Debtline: Coronavirus and your money
Advice about illegal money lenders (loan sharks) and COVID-19
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) recognise that this period may be one of increased financial pressure for some people. The Team is committed to ensuring that illegal money lenders (loan sharks) do not take advantage and profit from other people’s hardship.
The Stop Loan Sharks helpline (0300 555 2222) service remains open and fully operational during the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage not only victims but friends, family members and the wider community to come forward if they suspect someone is suffering at the hands of loan sharks. You can do this over the phone or by visiting https://www.stoploansharks.co.uk/ and fillling out the form on the home page.
Anyone lending money should have the correct permission from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Legal lenders have to comply with strict guidance and ensure they are dealing with customers fairly, using proper paperwork and legal collection methods.
You can check if a company is authorised to lend money at: www.loansmart.org.uk.