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Coronavirus (COVID - 19) help & support for Walsall residents

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.

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 Test and Trace payment

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.

If you are currently on furlough and are required to self-isolate you may still be eligible but you must meet all the other conditions.

Eligible individuals will receive a one-off payment of £500 paid into their bank account.

Make an application for a one-off payment
 

Discretionary fund payment for people on low incomes who do not receive a qualifying benefit

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 you must also meet the following conditions that came into effect from 23 March 2021:

  • capital/savings for both you and any partner you have are under £6,000 in total
  • you and any partner you have receive a low income and can provide evidence you will struggle financially

Make an application for a payment from the discretionary fund

Test and Trace Support Payments for parents/guardian of children required to self-isolate

From 8 March 2021 the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme has been extended to parents and guardians who are not legally required to self-isolate, but who need to take time off work to look after a child or young person who is self-isolating.

Applicants will need to satisfy all the other eligibility criteria for the main scheme or their local discretionary scheme to receive the payment. If you are unsure please refer to the criteria listed under ‘Claiming and Test and Trace Support Payment.’ In addition to this you will need to meet the following criteria:

  • You are the parent or guardian of a child or young person in the same household and need to take time off work to care for them while they self-isolate.
  • You are employed or self-employed.
  • You cannot work from home while undertaking caring responsibilities and will lose income as a result.
  • Your child or young person:
  • is aged 15 or under (or 25 or under with an Education, Health and Care Plan) and normally attends an education or childcare setting
  • has been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or by their education or childcare setting because they have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19

Only one application can be made per household for the child or young person’s self-isolation period.

The child or young person must have been told to self-isolate on or after 8 March 2021 to qualify. Applications can be back-dated to this date if applicable.

Make an application for a payment from the parents and guardians fund

What can you do if your account is overdrawn?

If you are overdrawn on the account we are paying your Test 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 Test 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.

For all above applications you have 42 days to submit your claim from either your first day of self-isolation or the first day of self-isolation for your child or young person.

For all 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 find out more information on the gov.uk website.

Covid-19 Local Support Grant Scheme

The Walsall Covid-19 Local Support Grant Scheme provides children and families with a little extra financial support over the winter months and into spring, helping to ensure that no one goes hungry or without essential utilities. 

If you were in receipt of Council Tax Reduction as at 16th April, we will make an award of £10 per child on your claim. If we already have your bank details then we will pay this automatically without you having to take any action. You should receive the payment by the end of May.

If you have recently qualified for Council Tax Reduction we may not have your bank details. We will write to you asking you to make an application on our Ascendant Portal and upload proof of your bank account, so that a payment can be made.

 

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. You can find more information on our benefits page.

If you are a pensioner you may be eligible to claim Housing Benefit.

Make an online Housing Benefit application

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 about additional protection on gov.uk

Council tax reduction (CTR)

You may be able to claim CTR 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 CTR 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 contact us as there are a number of ways we can help you. We may need to understand your finances to offer the right support. 

  • 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 on gov.uk

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 email or by 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 on the gov.uk website.