If you’re receiving benefits already but your income has stopped or dropped
If you’re receiving benefits already, it’s really important that you tell both us and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) about any changes to your income. This is so that we can adjust the amount you’re entitled to. You can tell us about changes by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by filling in a ‘change in circumstances’ form.
To find out more about how to report changes to the DWP visit gov.uk or telephone the Job Centre on 0800 169 0310.
You can tell DWP about a change to your circumstances here.
If you’re currently receiving benefits, please also seek advice to check you’re receiving everything you’re entitled to, using a benefit calculator to help you.
Accessing benefits for the first time if your income has stopped or dropped
If you’re struggling financially and not on benefits already, you may be eligible to apply for both of the following:
Council Tax Support: this is a type of benefit that reduces the amount of council tax you need to pay. The discount you’re entitled to is worked out by looking at your income and your individual circumstances which are explained on this page. If you think you’re eligible, you can make a claim here.
Universal Credit: if you’re not claiming benefits at the moment and you’re now unable to work or your income has dropped, as long as you fit the criteria, you can apply for Universal Credit. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) manages this so you will need to apply online at gov.uk or if you need help call them on 0800 328 5644. You do not need to go to the job centre and you can receive an advance payment from DWP.
Contributions-based benefits: If you have recently lost your job, you may also be eligible for contributions-based benefits - Job Seekers’ Allowance or Employment Support Allowance - which you can apply for at gov.uk. Your eligibility will only depend on your National Insurance contributions – the amount you have in savings and/or your partners’ income won’t be taken into account. Please use a benefit calculator to help you.
If you’re worried about losing your home
Advice for council tenants:
If you’re a council tenant and are worried about paying your rent, council tax or bills, speak to your neighbourhood housing officer as soon as possible. No tenant will be evicted from their home if they are unable to pay the rent because of COVID-19 and we are committed to supporting you through this very difficult time.
If you are still able to pay your rent, council tax and bills, you should pay as normal. We really don’t want any of our tenants to build up debt, and we need to carry on collecting rent so we can keep looking after you and keep all of our housing services running. For questions about rent, other bills or any other concerns, you can call your neighbourhood housing officer on 020 7974 4444 (option 3 then 5).
Advice for leaseholders:
If you're a leaseholder and you think you will have difficulty paying your service charge or major works invoices because of COVID-19, we are here to help. Please email leaseholder services at email@example.com or call 020 7974 3559.
Advice for private renters:
If you are a private renter, speak to your landlord if you are struggling. However, landlords cannot legally evict a tenant who can’t pay the rent as a result of COVID-19, and all court action for evictions are on hold until at least 20 September 2020. This means you should stay in your home even if you’ve already had notice or your landlord applied to court before the COVID-19 outbreak began. However, if you are struggling to pay your rent you can apply for Universal Credit. If you are already receiving Universal Credit or Housing Benefit you can apply to the Council for a Discretionary Housing Payment.
Advice for home owners:
If you’re a home owner, please call your mortgage provider to explain your change in circumstances because they will be able to pause mortgage payments for up to three months.
If you are struggling with finances and don’t have money to pay bills or buy food
If you are in severe financial hardship and need an emergency payment to pay utility bills or buy food you can apply for help through our Local Welfare Assistance Scheme online or by calling us on 020 7974 4444 (option 9).
A hardship award is usually an e-voucher payment for electric/gas utility costs or food. We may also be able to make a direct payment to you, usually about 60% of the amount of money the Government says you need to live on for a week depending on your circumstances i.e. a single person may be able to receive a one-off payment of £50.
An award will not be made to cover rent or replacement white goods or furniture.
When considering making an award we will look at your household income and situation to determine whether we can make a payment.
The operation of the scheme is at the Council's discretion and applicants do not have an automatic right.
For additional financial and benefits advice you can also speak to one of the following organisations:
1. Money Advice Service
0800 138 1677
2. Mary Ward Legal Centre
020 7831 7079
3. Citizens Advice Camden
0300 330 1157
If you're unable to top up your pay-as-you go energy or struggling with energy bills
The government has agreed measures with energy providers to support vulnerable people through COVID-19. Proposals will make sure vulnerable customers who may fall into debt remain supplied with energy while in self-isolation.
Measures include making sure prepayment and pay-as-you go customers remain supplied with energy and supporting all customers in financial distress. Those with pre-payment meters who may not be able to add credit should speak to their energy provider about options to keep them supplied.
The agreement has been signed by all UK domestic suppliers and will come into force immediately. The Government and energy industry have agreed to prioritise those existing customers most in need, while identifying customers whose circumstances may have changed as a direct or indirect result of COVID-19.
Customers that are unable to top up their pre-payment meter are advised to contact their supplier immediately to discuss how they can be kept on supply. Ofgem recommends consumers leave the meter box unlocked if they need someone else to top up the meter. Smart meter customers should be able to top-up remotely, such as by phone, mobile application or online.
More information is available on the GOV.UK website.