As the impact of coronavirus is felt across the UK, you may have concerns about how it could affect you and your family. Walsall Council is looking to proactively support residents to minimise the financial impact of the outbreak.
If the income in your household has been affected by the coronavirus, we have put support in place to help with a loss or reduction in earnings/income which may affect your ability to pay your household bills.
Covid Winter Grant Scheme
The recently announced Covid Winter Grant Scheme will be made available to provide children and families with extra support this winter, ensuring that vulnerable households do not go hungry or without essential utilities.
Payments will be made to those families with children in receipt of Council Tax reduction. Council Tax Reduction is the scheme that provides support towards Council Tax payments for families on a low income.
In some cases, Walsall Council will make the payments direct, via bank transfer, so no action is required. Any residents who have not already registered their bank details will be written to on the 10th December, asking them to upload their details onto a secure portal https://www.grantapproval.co.uk/ , so that payments can be made.
For more information on Walsall’s Covid Winter Grant Scheme please go to www.walsall.gov.uk/covid-19_information/coronavirus_covid_-_19_help_support_for_walsall_residents
The Council are also working with its voluntary sector partners including the Walsall Community Network, Food Banks and other VCS organisations to ensure that we support those in greatest need, in their community. Further information and how to make a referral is available at www.walsall.gov.uk/covid-19_information/covid-19_-_i_need_help_residents/covid-19_-_access_help_and_volunteer_to_help or on 0121 380 6690
If families require the assistance of the Council’s crisis support team then the Housing and Welfare Service can be contacted on 01922 652550 or Housingandwelfaresupport@walsall.gov.uk
Important information about the new Test and Trace Support Payment scheme
The government has announced that from 28 September 2020 there will be a legal duty on all those with a positive COVID-19 test—or those identified by NHS test and trace as a ‘close contact’ of those with a positive COVID-19 test—to self-isolate. Alongside this new legislative requirement, the government is providing funding for a new Test and Trace Support Payment scheme for people on low incomes who are unable to work while they are self-isolating because they cannot work from home.
Claiming a Track and Trace payment
Individuals will be able to claim a payment if falling eligible from 28 September 2020 onwards. To be eligible for the Test and Trace Support Payment, an individual must:
● have been asked to self-isolate on or after 28 September 2020 by NHS test and trace either because they’ve tested positive for coronavirus or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive
● be employed or self-employed
● be unable to work from home and will lose income as a result
● be currently receiving universal credit, working tax credit, income-based employment and support allowance, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income support, housing benefit and/or pension credit.
You will not be eligible for these payments if you are currently on furlough and are required to self-isolate.
Eligible individuals will receive a one-off payment of £500 paid into their bank account.
Make an application for a one-off payment
What can you do if your account is overdrawn?
If you are overdrawn on the account we are paying your Track and Trace Support Payment to you may wish to write to your bank using the following template, to exercise your right of appropriation.
On or around XX/XX/XX, I will be paid a Track and Trace Support Payment from Walsall Council. This will be paid into my current account number XXXXXXXX. I am exercising my first right of appropriation over these funds and need the money to meet my living costs, utilities and rent payments. I’m giving you notice to reserve £500.00 for this purpose and intend to withdrawn this on XX/XX/XX.
I will contact you separately to arrange to reduce my overdraft.
Discretionary fund payment
There is also a discretionary fund for individuals who meet the above criteria but are not receiving a qualifying benefit, however can demonstrate they are receiving a low income and will struggle financially as a result of self-isolation. To qualify for a discretionary payment individuals must also meet the following criteria -
- their household has not received a payment from main scheme for the same isolation period
- their is a limit of one discretionary payment per household per isolation period
- the annual projected combined earnings of for the individual and any partner are below £18,400 per year
- the savings/capital of the individual and any partner are under £1,000
Make an application for a payment from the discretionary fund
For both applications we require proof that you were actively self employed and receiving income prior to self isolation or confirmation from your employer you will lose earnings while self isolating. You will be able to upload your evidence during the application process.
If you are unable to use the online application, you can receive help and support by contacting us on 01922 654111.
You can also find out more information at the gov.uk website
If you rent your property
Help with your rent payments
Working-age residents will need to make a claim for universal credit unless you’re in an exempt group. More information can be found on our main benefits information page.
If you are a pensioner you may be eligible to claim housing benefits.
Ban on evictions and additional protection
The Government has announced measures to protect renters and landlords affected by coronavirus.
- Emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation while this national emergency is taking place.
- No new possession proceedings through applications to the court to start during the crisis.
- Landlords will also be protected, as the three-month mortgage payment holiday is extended to include buy-to-let mortgages.
Find out more
You may be able to claim a council tax reduction if you have a low income and your savings are not above £6,000 for working age people, and not above £16,000 for pensioners. There are questions on the form that ask how you have been impacted and we will use this information to see how else we can support you during this difficult time.
Make a claim for Council Tax reduction online
Trouble paying your council tax bill?
The Government has announced that there will be extra help for council tax payers due to the coronavirus situation. We appreciated that many of you will be affected and we intend to help those who are most in need. On this basis, for those of you who are working age and qualify for council tax reduction, please see above for more details and how to apply, an extra award of up to £150.00 will also be made to your council tax account further reducing your instalments or bringing your account balance to zero for 2020/2021.
If you are struggling making payments towards your account as a result of COVID-19, please get in touch with us as there are a number of ways we can help you. We may need to understand your finances to offer the right support.
Please contact us
- We can spread your instalments to March 2021
- We can make an arrangement that is affordable to you
For more information, if you are struggling to pay, see having trouble paying your council tax
Help with energy bills
The Government has negotiated an industry agreement signed by all UK domestic energy suppliers effective immediately.
- Prepayment and pay-as-you go customers will remain supplied with energy through challenging times.
- Support will be available to all customers in financial distress.
See what help is available
Other housing and welfare assistance
We also have a housing and welfare service that can help with housing issues, food, gas, electric and other essentials. You can contact this team by emailing: Housingandwelfaresupport@walsall.gov.uk or calling 01922 652250. For information on these services please visit the Housing and Welfare Support Service pages.
We have been made aware that there is currently a text message scam active that invites you to click a link in order to claim a £435 refund on your council tax as part of coronavirus relief. There is no council tax refund scheme in place. For help with your council tax during this time, please see below.
More information on council tax scams, and how to avoid them, can be found at www.Gov.uk – How to identify Council Tax scams and what you can do to avoid them