This information is being regularly updated in line with latest Government guidance and advice. The content of this page was checked and updated on 3 April 2020.

The government has introduced nationwide support measures to support resilience and independence, which will allow you to plan your finances to meet essential needs over the coming months without reliance on smaller local schemes.

Accessing this support is your best option as it will make sure you can meet your essential needs including food and fuel without leaving your home unnecessarily.

Benefits

  • You still can make a new claim for benefits, but you will need to make these claims on line or by telephone
  • The Department for Work and Pensions will continue to pay benefits
  • Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element will be raised by £1,000 a year, for the next 12 months
  • Advances for Universal Credit are available - up to a month's advance
  • Employment Support Allowance for new claimants will be payable from day one

Workers

  • If you cannot work, Statutory Sick Pay will be available from day 1 rather than day 4
  • A new Job Retention scheme is being set up to cover the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month. This scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1 2020
  • If you resigned form you job before the furlough support was announced, you could be eligible for furlough, but only if your old employer agrees to take you back on to its payroll AND you were on its payroll on 28 February - speak to your old employer anyway and ask
  • If you're on a zero-hours contract, you will be able to access Universal Credit and the new Employment Support Allowance
  • Self -employed workers can apply to have a direct cash grant of 80% of their profits, up to £2,500 per month for at least 3 months
  • If you resigned from your job before the furlough support was announced, you could be eligible for furlough, but only if your old employer agrees to take you back on to its payroll AND you were on its payroll on 28 February - speak to your old employer anyway and ask
  • If you're on a zero-hours contract, you will be able to access Universal Credit and the new Employment Support Allowance
  • Every self-employed person can now access, in full Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees
  • Please note ...If you are an extremely vulnerable person you can  register for extra support in relation to coronavirus, you can register on gov.uk

Also

  • All new evictions will be suspended, and no new possession proceedings will be permitted during the period
  • The Government has agreed measures with energy industry to support vulnerable people - including proposal to ensure vulnerable customers who may fall into debt remain supplied with energy while in self-isolation and to ensure no one faces any additional hardships in heating or lightening their home during the outbreak
  • There will be new support for renters, including increases to Housing benefit, and changes to the Local Housing Allowance https://england.shelter.org.uk/legal/housing_options/covid19_emergency_measures/benefits_and_income
  • Mortgage lenders will support customers who are experiencing financial difficulties by giving them mortgage holidays for up to 3 months. Contact your lender.
  • If you are worried about not being able to pay your Council Tax - The government has announced a new £500 million Hardship Fund so local councils can financially support people. Sunderland City Council have announced the following additional financial support for residents. The support for working age residents, will be based on those residents who receive support via the council's existing Local Council Tax Support (LCTS) scheme. The LCTS scheme is based on a claimant's specific financial circumstances, so the support will differ from case to case.
    The extended scheme will start on 1 April 2020 and will provide up to £150 of extra support. If you are an existing recipient of LCTS and your financial position has not changed, you do not need to claim this additional support.
    The council  are currently working to re-issue council tax bills for all 20,000 current working age claimants on the LCTS who will benefit. Additionally, the council will not collect Direct Debit payments from all working age residents who receive LCTS during April 2020 - in respect of the 2020/21 council tax charge. Please note that Direct Debit payment arrangements already in place for previous years will still be collected as normal.
    If you currently receive LCTS and your circumstances have changed OR if you think you will now be eligible for LCTS, please make a claim soon as possible. Details can be found at: https://www.sunderland.gov.uk/housing-benefit-council-tax-support
  • Northumbrian Water can offer support with costs for vulnerable groups and low-income households to reduce household bills by up to 50% https://www.nwl.co.uk/services/extra-support/financial-support/supportplus/ or ring on 0345 733 5566
  • Schools continue to provide free school meals to eligible pupils, and from 31 Match 2020 a national scheme to provide supermarket vouchers online has been launched - you should check with your child's school regarding the arrangements that have been made https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools
  • Your car, van or motorcycle's MOT expiry date will be extended by 6 months if it's due on or after 30 March 2020 - but you must keep your vehicle safe to drive. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-mots-for-cars-vans-and-motorcycles-due-from-30-march-2020
  • You can make a claim for Child Benefit using a Child Benefit CH2 form, prior to registering a birth, where you have not been able to do so because of the current COVID-19 pandemic

For more details see www.sunderland.gov.uk/coronavirus

Useful numbers

Job Centre Plus 0800 055 6688 Textphone: 0800 023 4888

HMRC General Tax Credit Helpline number is 0345 300 3900

If you wish to speak to someone locally about your circumstances, there are several organisations in the city you can telephone, but they are reporting high levels of demand so please bear with them when you call, the lines may be engaged.

Sunderland Welfare Rights Service are also able to advise via email.

Local providerContact details

Sunderland Welfare Rights Service

0191 520 5555

Email welfare.rights@sunderland.gov.uk

Shiney Advice and Resource Project

Washington & Coalfields areas

07477875783

s.copley@shineyadvice.org.uk

Sunderland West Advice Project

West area

07768985074

swap@pallionactiongroup.co.uk

 

Citizens Advice Sunderland

North & East areas

0300 330 1194

Dedicated debt line on 0191 415 8998

enquires@citizensadvicesunderland.co.uk

FISCUS07983 355 212   City wide
Christians Against Poverty0800 328 0006   City wide
Stop Loan Sharks helpline service0300 555 2222