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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. We are 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

Under step 4 of the government's roadmap out of lockdown there remains 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 legislative requirement, a government-funded Test and Trace Support Payment scheme is available 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 Support payment

From 16th August 2021 the main Test and Trace Support Payment is for people who live in England and meet the following conditions

  • have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app  because they have tested positive for COVID-19

or

  • have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app because they have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive, and are not fully vaccinated; unless the isolation period started prior to 16/8/21

and

  • have responded to messages from NHS Test and Trace and have provided any legally required information, such as the details of their close contacts
  • are employed or self-employed
  • are unable to work from home and will lose income as a result of self-isolating
  • are currently receiving, or are the partner in the same household as someone who is receiving, at least one of the following benefits: Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, Income-based Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit, Pension Credit
  • have an eight character account ID given to them by NHS Test and Trace

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 and who meet the condition below that came into effect on 23rd June 2021. Individuals will also need to demonstrate that they will face financial hardship as a result of having to self-isolate.  

  • gross earnings are below £26,000 per year 

Make an application for a payment from the discretionary fund

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

As of 16 August 2021, people under 18 are no longer required to self-isolate if identified as a contact by NHS Test and Trace. 

A parent or guardian of a young person who is required to self-isolate may be eligible for a Test and Trace Support Payment if they live in England and meet the following criteria (even if they are fully vaccinated):

  • they are the parent or guardian of a young person in the same household who is self-isolating and need to take time off work to care for them
  • they are unable to work from home and will lose income
  • the young person has:
  • tested positive for Covid-19 and is aged 15 or under, or aged 25 or under with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan

or

  • been identified as a close contact of someone with Covid-19 (by NHS Test and Trace, their education or care setting or the NHS Covid-19 app), is aged 18-25, is not fully vaccinated and has and EHC Plan
  • the young person normally attends an education or care setting: and
  • the parent or guardian meets all the criteria for the main or discretionary payment scheme

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 extra financial support and has been extended to help families over the summer period to ensure that no one goes hungry or without essential utilities.

If you were in receipt of council tax reduction on 7 July 2021 and had children included on your claim, we will make an award of £50 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 second week in August.

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.  The closing date for supplying this information is 29 August, 2021.

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

Government measures have been put in place to protect renters and landlords affected by COVID-19:

  • 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 COVID-19 situation. We appreciate that many residents 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 an active text message scam that invites you to click a link in order to claim a £435 refund on your council tax as part of COVID-19 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.