As we come through this challenging time, I want to reassure you that the government is doing everything it can to keep this country, and our people, healthy and financially secure. No one should be penalised for doing the right thing and self-isolating.
The Government has been clear - we will do whatever it takes. We will give every British citizen the tools they need to get through this. We will support jobs, we will support incomes, we will support businesses, and we will help people to protect their loved ones.
Please find the latest news on measures being enacted at a national level and advice on what to do next.
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Anthony Browne MP
The Government has passed the Emergency Coronavirus Bill – which will protect life and the nation’s public health and ensure NHS and social care staff are supported to deal with significant extra pressure.
- The measures in the Bill are temporary, proportionate to the threat, will only be used when strictly necessary and will be in place for as long as required to respond to the situation. The Bill will be introduced to Parliament tomorrow and scrutinised by MPs.
- Measures include allowing recently retired NHS staff and social workers to return to work without any negative repercussions to their pensions. Paperwork and administrative requirements will be reduced to help doctors discharge patients more quickly when appropriate, to free up hospital space.
- Volunteers will have extra employment safeguards – benefiting more than 3 million people who already volunteer in health and care settings and bolstering the NHS’s capacity to respond to the virus.
- Changes to councils’ duties under the Care Act will enable them to prioritise people with the greatest care needs and make the best use of the adult social care workforce.
- By planning for the worst and working for the best we will get through this, but this is a national effort and we must all work together ‒ from businesses prioritising the welfare of their employees, to people thoroughly washing their hands.
For those in difficulty due to coronavirus, we are introducing 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. And in the coming days, we will go much further to support people’s financial security. We will work with trade unions and businesses to develop new forms of employment support to help protect people’s jobs and incomes through this period.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be now be available for eligible individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 who are unable to work because they have the virus or are selfisolating in line with PHE guidance. This is in addition to the change announced by the Prime Minister that SSP will be payable from day 1 instead of day 4 for affected individuals.
People who are advised to self-isolate will be able to obtain an alternative to the sick note to cover this by contacting NHS 111, rather than visiting a doctor. This can be used by employees where their employers require evidence.
For the duration of the outbreak, the requirements of the Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor, will be temporarily relaxed for those who have COVID-19 or are selfisolating according to government advice. Employment and Support Allowance will also be payable for eligible people affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8.
We are providing £500 million more funding so local authorities can support economically vulnerable people and households. We expect most of this funding to be used to provide more council tax relief, either through existing Local Council Tax Support schemes, or through complementary reliefs.
Face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits for the next 3 months have been suspended. This temporary move (effective from 17 March) is being taken as a precautionary measure to protect vulnerable people from unnecessary risk of exposure to coronavirus. We will ensure those who are entitled to a benefit continue to receive support, and that new claimants are able to access the safety net.
ADVICE FOR RENTERS
The biggest fixed cost that many families face is their rent payment and it is right that the government has regard to that. No one who has been impacted by coronavirus should have to worry about getting back on their feet - that is why the government have announced a package of measures to ensure no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home. These include:
- Introducing emergency legislation to protect renters, so that no one gets evicted if they cannot pay their rent. Landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period. As a result of these measures, no renters in private or social accommodation needs to be concerned about the threat of eviction.
- Announcing nearly £1 billion of support for renters, by increasing the generosity of housing benefit and Universal Credit, so that the Local Housing Allowance will cover at least 30 per cent of market rents in local areas.
- Giving more support to landlords, so they do not have to take action against tenants. We are providing a three money mortgage holiday for Buy to Let landlords – meaning that if they, or their tenants, get into financial difficulties because of coronavirus they will not face enforcement action for three months.
As you can appreciate, this is a fast-moving situation. We would strongly advise you to check the Government website, at gov.uk/coronavirus, for the very latest information about the support being made to help people through this challenging time.
WHERE TO FIND ADVICE OR SUPPORT