How to maximise your income during Covid-19

If you’ve suffered a financial hit because of Covid-19, there’s no better place to start than seeing if you can maximise your income.

There are the usual benefits and tax credits to claim, but rules have changed – often for the better – because of Covid-19. Whereas you may not have been entitled to anything in the past – that may now have changed.

Additionally, support to maximise your income is provided if you are off sick or have to self-isolate.

Schemes are constantly evolving. Consequently, you should look to see what latest support is on offer.

Lost your job or on a reduced income?

If you lose your job, are furloughed or on a reduced income, check your entitlement to benefits and tax credits. You may qualify Universal Credit if you:

  • Lose your job and have no income.
  • See your income fall, but you’re still working.
  • Can’t work because of aa disability or illness.
  • Have expensive childcare costs.
  • Are caring for someone.

The circumstances for claiming vary considerably according to your personal circumstances. The best place to start is the government tax credits calculator.

It is worth considering the full range of benefits, especially if anyone in your family has physical or mental health care needs. If you were earning a larger salary (above £60k), you may now qualify for Child Benefit.

Other benefits to consider, include Housing benefit to help with your rent. You may also be entitled to a reduction on your council tax.

In some limited cases you may be entitled to Income Support. If you’ve reached state pension age and you’re on a low income, you may be entitled to claim Pension Credit.

Kids at school?

If you have school age children, you may be able to get free school meals. Check if you’re eligible.

If your children already received free school meals and are off sick (or self-isolating) because of Coronavirus you may be able to get food parcels.

Self-isolating or off sick?

If you’re self-isolating and not receiving company sick pay, you might qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Use this to maximise your income whilst you’re ill.

The rules for claiming SSP are more favourable under Covid-19. Because of this, you no longer need to wait four days to claim. Therefore, you can get SSP from the first day you report an illness to your employer.

Again, the rules for SSP are constantly evolving but you may be able to claim if:

  • You’re self-isolating.
  • You have Coronavirus.
  • Someone you live with has Covid-19.
  • Someone in your support bubble has the illness.

If you’re self-isolating for more than seven days, your employer may ask you for proof. You can visit the NHS website to get an isolation note.

Additionally, you might also be able to get a self-isolation payment of £500 from your local council if you tested positive for coronavirus or the NHS told you to stay at home. In most cases these are only available if you are on benefits or tax credits. However discretionary grants are also available. Read more.

On reduced hours?

If you’re an employee, the job retention scheme can cover 80 percent of your wages up to £2,500 a month. This is for your employer to claim. The scheme is now running until 31 March 2021.

If you’re self-employed the self-employment income support scheme has now been extended until March 2021. Provided you qualified for the earlier version of the scheme you may qualify if you’re trading but demand for your services has fallen. You can also claim if you’ve had to temporarily close your business.

Keep up to date with government support for workers and businesses here.

Short-term problem?

If you know you are only going through a short-term difficult patch, a loan from a credit union might help. Importantly, you’ll need to prove that you can afford to repay the loan. Furthermore it might help if you brush up your credit score.

About Adrian Davies

With a background in money advice, Adrian's been campaigning for fairer finance for 25 years.

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