Last updated 8 October 2020
Frequently asked questions on finances, employment and health during the coronavirus pandemic
We’ve put together the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we’re getting from customers, along with links to more help and information. We’re updating these regularly, in line with the latest Government guidance.
If your job or financial situation has been affected by coronavirus, you may be able to get Government support – more details are available on its coronavirus website.
You need to tell us as soon as possible if you’re having difficulty paying your rent, or your financial situation has changed, so we can give you the help and support you need. Contact us in the usual ways - we are here to help.
I’ve been signed off sick and I’m concerned about not getting any money. Where can I go for help?
If you are signed off sick you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), this is paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks if you’re too ill to work.
If you’re self-isolating because of coronavirus, you can get SSP if you’re eligible. Anytime from 13 March you’ll be able to get SSP from the first day you’re self-isolating and cannot work. Please remember to tell your employer your current situation as soon as possible.
For more information visit the Government's website - GOV.UK
I cannot work due to illness and I’m not getting Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Where can I go for help?
You can apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you have a disability or health condition that affects how much you can work.
ESA gives you:
- money to help with living costs if you’re unable to work
- support to get back into work if you’re able to
You can apply for ESA if you’re employed, self-employed or unemployed. For more information visit GOV.UK
I need to self-isolate. How do I prove that to my employer?
If you have symptoms or live with someone who has symptoms of coronavirus, you can get an isolation note by filling in a form on the NHS website. You can then send this your employer as proof you need to stay off work. You do not need to get a note from a doctor.
I’ve been laid off work/ my hours have reduced and I cannot work from home. What can I do?
Your employer can ask you to stay at home or take unpaid leave if there’s not enough work for you. A lay-off is if you’re off work for at least one working day. Short-time working is when your hours are cut.
There’s no limit to how long you can be laid off or put on short-time working. You could apply for redundancy and claim redundancy pay if you are eligible – visit GOV.UK - to check.
You should get your full pay unless your contract allows unpaid or reduced pay lay-offs. If you’re unpaid, you’re entitled to guaranteed pay.
For more information visit GOV.UK - lay offs and short time working
I'm unable to go to work/ I have no work to do. Where can I get support?
If the current situation means you are unable to work, or you have no work to do, you can ask your employer to 'furlough' you. If eligible, then being a furlough worker means you are put on hold. Your company will then pay you at least 80% of salary up to to £2,500/month. Your employer can then ask the government for this money back, this is under the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme.
For more information visit Money Saving Expert.
- I'm self-employed and my work is affected by coronavirus. What help can I get?
I'm unable to pay my rent and I'm concerned about losing my home
By letting us know that you have applied for benefit support, we will not take any action on your arrears while you wait for payment as long as you continue to work closely with us to progress your payment plan. Our income team will stay in touch with you regularly to provide support.
Find out more about your rent and payments during the coronavirus pandemic.
I have an HMRC tax bill due, which I cannot pay
It is important you contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) as soon as possible if you have missed your payment. You may be able to arrange paying in installments.
If you cannot pay because of coronavirus, you can call the HMRC coronavirus helpline on 0800 024 1222.
If you’ve received a payment demand, like a tax bill or a letter threatening you with legal action, call the HMRC office that sent you the letter.
For more information and specific contact details visit the GOV.UK - difficulties in paying HMRC
- I'm unable to pay my council tax or have arrears. What should I do?
I cannot afford to pay my water bill. What should I do?
You cannot get disconnected for not paying your water bill. Most water companies will have support schemes for those in difficulty. You should visit your supplier’s website or contact them to make arrangements.
For more information visit the economic regulator of the water sector in England and Wales - Ofwat
I cannot afford to pay my gas and/or electricity. What should I do?
You must contact your electricity and gas suppliers as soon as possible so they are aware of your circumstances and they can make sure you are receiving the appropriate support.
Further information can be found on Money Saving Expert.
I’m unable to top up my gas and or/electricity meter as I’m self-isolating. What should I do?
Check if your friends, family or neighbours can help you. If not, check who your energy provider is and follow the advice on Money Saving Expert.
I'm struggling with other debts. What should I do?
You must let your creditors know. They may be able to offer payment holidays or debt repayment plans which are more manageable.
You should also seek debt advice via our in-house team of debt advisors or one of the below organisations offering free advice:
I'm self-isolating and unable to get food for myself/my family? Where can I get help?
If you are self-isolating, contact your local authority if you need support to deal with basic needs (self-care, food, medicine). More information can be found on the stay at home section of the government guidance.
We encourage everyone to stay in touch with any friends, family or neighbours who can check in on you regularly and provide the support you need.
My circumstances have changed because of coronavirus and I'm unable to afford food and basic supplies for myself/my family. What help can I get?
All local and district councils have now set up centralised community hotlines and hubs, most of which offer emergency food provisions and can also advise on other support. These are usually food parcels with essential items delivered to your door. To register for this support please look on the coronavirus/Covid-19 specific pages on your local council’s website.
Alternatively, you may be able to get support from your local food bank. Most food banks now offer a contact free delivery service. Find your local Trussell Trust food bank.
Food banks usually require you to have an electronic voucher from a registered agency, such as Hyde or your local Citizens Advice Bureau. If you need help or advice please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm in a clinically vulnerable/clinically extremely vulnerable category. Where can I access help and support?
This is the term now given to the group of people who were advised to take extra precautions known as ‘shielding’. The government guidance is regularly updated, and includes advice on how you can get support and help.
- Return to our Coronavirus - information for customers page.