Coronavirus, welfare benefits & money
As well as worries about the health of loved ones, you may also have concerns about the financial implications for your family, particularly if you or a partner are likely to have to stop working or see a significant drop in earnings.
17 December 2020: Furlough scheme extended
On 17 December, the government announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (better known as the furlough scheme) will be extended to the end of April 2021.
The new schemes, which are detailed below, are now on hold.
22 October: Chancellor announces changes to Job Support Scheme
When it was originally announced, the government had said that where someone was working fewer hours than they normally did, the Job Support Scheme would meet 33% of wages for the hours that were not being worked.
However, the Chancellor has announced that the government will instead now cover 62% of wages for hours that are not worked, capped at £1541.75 per month. Employers will only be required to pay 5% of staff wages for hours not worked.
To be eligible for this scheme an employee must still be working at least 20% of their normal hours, and these worked hours must be paid by the employer as normal.
The Chancellor also said the Self Employment Income Support scheme, available from November, will also be more generous than originally planned. When it was originally announced it was only going to cover 20% of average profits. The Chancellor has now said it will cover 40% of average profits.
Alongside this the Chancellor also announced new grants for businesses effected by Tier 2 lockdown restrictions. For more information see Chancellor increases financial support for businesses and workers from gov.uk
13 October: New Job Support Scheme expansion
The UK government has announced an expansion of the Job Support Scheme to provide temporary support for businesses and employees that are legally required to close their premises due to the Coronavirus restrictions at local or national level.
The scheme covers all four nations of the UK.
24 September: Chancellor announces new in-work Job Support Scheme to replace the current furlough scheme
The government has announced that a new in-work job support scheme will replace the current furlough scheme from November in order to try and protect 'viable' jobs over the next six months.
The Government has also decided to extend the self-employment income support scheme to April 2021, although the amount of help provided is changing.
22 September: New £500 Test and Trace Support payment to be introduced in England for workers on low incomes who are required to self-isolate
The government has announced a new payment for people in England who are required to self-isolate, who are unable to work from home during their period of self-isolation and who lose money as a result.
2 June: Chancellor confirms planned changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme
The Chancellor had already confirmed that the scheme would continue to run until October and that furloughed workers shall continue to receive 80% of wages.
From August onwards, rather than the government meeting the full 80% of a workers wage themselves, employers will be expected to meet some of the costs.
The other main change to the scheme is that from 1 July, employers will have the option of bringing furloughed staff back to work part-time. However, if they do this the employer will have to meet the full costs of your earnings for the hours that you work. Your employer will only be able to claim government help towards your wages for the hours you remain furloughed.
Find out more about the Coronavirus Job Rentention Scheme.
5 May: Furloughed workers won't lose entitlements to Working Tax Credit
Normally someone needs to be working at least 16 hours a week to be eligible for Working Tax Credit. However HMRC have now confirmed that workers who have been furloughed, or those who are on reduced hours due to the coronavirus pandemic, will not lose entitlement to Working Tax Credit so long as they remain employed or self-employed. See the full press release about this announcement.
30 March: Change to Carer's Allowance rules
From 30 March, a break in caring can be ignored in Carer's Allowance claims if it is caused by either the disabled person or their carer having Coronavirus symptoms.
Alongside this, the charity Carers UK say that they have been told by the Department for Work and Pensions that emotional support, such as that provided by telephone or social media, will count as care in assessing if a carer is providing at least 35 hours per week care.
Other changes to the benefits system
There have already been a number of changes to the benefits system in response to the current outbreak.
See our page on Covid-19 and welfare benefits for help understanding what financial support you might be eligible for during the coronavirus pandemic. We'll keep this page updated if and when any government changes are announced.