Coronavirus has caused severe financial difficulty for people in Scotland and around the UK, with job losses and ill health creating sudden and devastating loss of income. The Scottish government has introduced legislation to support you at this time, however, to boost incomes and protect against aggressive debt collection.
So what might be available to help you through the coronavirus pandemic?
If you have to take time off work due to coronavirus, whether through ill health or because you’re self-isolating, you should tell your employer straight away. You should be entitled to receive SSP from day one rather than day four of your sickness as is normally the case.
Should you experience symptoms of the virus you’ll be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay for a minimum of 10 days. If you’re told you’ve been in contact with someone with coronavirus, or another member of your household has COVID-19 symptoms, you’ll receive SSP for at least 14 days.
You can receive up to £95.85 per week of Statutory Sick Pay for up to 28 weeks if you’re entitled to make a claim. Some employers also pay contractual sick pay, so check your employment contract to find out, or ask your employer about this.
If your employer refuses to pay SSP, or informs you that you’re not entitled to it but you believe you are, you can contact HMRC’s Statutory Payments Dispute Team on 0300 056 0630 or their Employee Enquiry Line on 0300 200 3500.
Our licensed insolvency practitioners at Scotland Debt Solutions can also offer free independent advice on claiming benefits in Scotland.
If you’re struggling financially because of coronavirus you may be able to claim more benefits/a new benefit to boost your income, or receive help with some of your bills to reduce outgoings.
Crisis grants from the Scottish Welfare Fund
If the situation is urgent and you can’t pay for food, you may be eligible for a crisis grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund. These are discretionary grants provided by local authorities and can help with food or energy bills, for example, and they don’t need to be repaid.
Universal Credit is gradually replacing some other benefits, including Income Support, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, and Housing Benefit. If your circumstances have changed due to coronavirus, or for any other reason, you may need to start claiming Universal Credit instead.
If you’ve never claimed benefits before and are experiencing financial problems due to COVID-19, you can make a claim for Universal Credit.
‘New style’ benefits
If you aren’t able to claim Universal Credit and have paid sufficient National Insurance Contributions (NICs), you may be entitled to the new style Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
For more information on claiming Statutory Sick Pay and other benefits in Scotland, please contact one of our experts at Scotland Debt Solutions to arrange a free same-day consultation - we operate from offices throughout Scotland.
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