Advice during coronavirus

Help with money, housing and jobs during coronavirus

The Government has announced that additional financial support will be available to people who are working (employed or self-employed) and on a low income, and have to self-isolate:

  • as part of the NHS Test and Trace scheme,  or
  • from 10 December 2020, because they have been identified as a close contact by the NHS COVID-19 App. For more information on this, please see 'What to do if you are notified to self-isolate by the NHS COVID-19 App' below.

Self-Isolation Payments will only be available to people who meet these conditions and have received a notification from NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 App (from 10 December), either because they have tested positive for Coronavirus or they have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.

From Monday 14 December, the self-isolation period is to be reduced from 14 days to 10 days. To learn more about this change, please visit the Government website.


Council Tax bills for 2021/22 have now been issued, with the first payment coming out in April.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected many people's jobs, income, and health. Wakefield residents who are worried about being able to pay their Council Tax should speak to the Council's Revenues and Benefits Team as soon as possible.

A team of friendly advisors are ready to help and will give tailored advice and support so that payments are manageable. Call them on 0345 8 504 504.

To update other changes in circumstances such as moving house, please use MyAccount. 

Scam Alert

We are aware that some of our residents are receiving bogus calls about claims for Self-Isolation Payments and are asking for personal information. Claims for Self-Isolation Payments can only be made via our online form. Once we receive this form, if we require any further information from you, we will normally ask for this by e-mail. You will know the e-mail is from us as the e-mail address will end '…@wakefield.gov.uk'. If we ever need to contact you by phone, our officers will give you their name. If you are in any doubt who you are speaking to, ask for their name and then call us back on 0345 8 504 504 and ask to speak to that officer.

Help at the hub

Help at the Hub is a new service to help everyone deal with the impact of coronavirus on things like jobs, money and wellbeing. Find out more here.

Financial help when self-isolating

Government payment system to help people who have to self-isolate

The Government has announced that additional financial support will be available to people who are working (employed or self-employed) and on a low income and have to self-isolate as part of the NHS Test and Trace scheme. 

Wakefield Council are administering this scheme for its residents. 

Under the scheme, a one-off payment of £500 will be paid to people whose earnings are reduced because they are required to self-isolate but are unable to work at home, and who receive one of the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Council Tax Support
  • Pension Credit

Self-Isolation Payments will only be available to people who meet these conditions and have received a notification from NHS Test and Trace, either because they have tested positive for Coronavirus or they have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.

If you are not receiving any of these benefits but are still on a low income and meet all the other conditions, you may be entitled to a Discretionary Self-Isolation Payment.

To be considered for a Discretionary Payment you may be asked to confirm who else lives in your household and their relationship to you, including how many dependent children you have. If  you live with a partner who works you may need to provide their most recent payslip and tell us if they have also been isolating. If they have been self-isolating we will ask if they have received sick pay whilst isolating.  If your partner does not work you will need to tell us what income they receive.

Please note that if not all the requested information is provided, your application cannot be verified and will be rejected.

Applications for these payments must be made using the form below. If you require help in making your claim, please contact us on 0345 8 504 504.

Applications must be made no later than 28 days after your first day of self-isolation otherwise they cannot be accepted.

Apply Now

What to do if you are notified to self-isolate by the NHS COVID-19 App

To apply for a Self-Isolation Payment, you'll need to register with NHS Test and Trace and provide us with an NHS Test and Trace Account ID. This is an 8-digit code that is sometimes also referred to as a CTAS number. If you test positive for coronavirus, or are told to self-isolate by contact tracers, you will be provided with the Account ID ready to take to your local authority.

If you receive notification of a positive test result (even if you initially report your symptoms through the app and are referred on to the test booking system) you will be able to apply for the Test and Trace Support Payment, if you meet the other eligibility criteria.  If you receive a positive test, you are legally obligated to self-isolate and will be provided with a NHS Test and Trace ID via the email and mobile number you provide when ordering the test.

You will not be eligible for the payment while you wait for a test, nor if you test negative.

If the NHS COVID-19 App has told you to self-isolate because you've been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, you will need to follow some steps to request your Account ID. This is because the app is anonymous, so you need to register with NHS Test and Trace by following a link in the app. You must do this while you are in your self-isolation period. You cannot request your Account ID after you've finished self-isolating.

To start the process, select 'Financial support'. This button appears on the home screen of the app when you've been told to self-isolate because you've been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus. You'll be taken to a website which will ask you for some information to check whether you could be eligible. None of the information you provide will be passed back to the NHS COVID-19 App. The app is designed to protect your privacy and does not know who or where you are. If your answers show that you may be eligible for the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment, there are 4 steps to apply for the payment:

Step 1 - Confirm who you are with NHS login

You need to log in or register with NHS login so we can check who you are. If you are registering, you will receive a confirmation link in an email. When you read the email, make sure you keep the existing screen open so that you can continue to the next step.

Step 2 - Enter personal details

You will be asked to enter your name so that NHS Test and Trace can carry out some checks. None of your personal details will be given to the app.

Step 3 - Register with NHS Test and Trace

You will get an email and text message from NHS Test and Trace within one hour.  Communication hours are between 7.30 am to 8.30 pm. If you register outside of these hours, there may be a delay in receipt of the email or text message until opening hours resume. Read about what to do if you have not received this email or text message.

These messages will include a link which you need to follow to complete your registration with NHS Test and Trace. You must do this while you are still in your self-isolation period. You will not be able to apply for the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment without completing this step.

Once you have completed your registration, you will receive a final confirmation email and text message from NHS Test and Trace. You will then be subject to the legal obligation to self-isolate

Step 4 - Apply for a Self-Isolation Payment

Once you have received this second email or text message with your NHS Test and Trace Account ID, you can apply for the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment. Receiving an NHS Test and Trace Account ID does not necessarily mean you will be eligible for the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment. You must request the Account ID during the self-isolation period. Once you have this, you must make your application for a payment no later than 28 days after your first day of your self-isolation otherwise it cannot be accepted.

STEP-UP - Employment Service

The STEP UP team helps people to find work, improve their skills or make a career change. 

http://www.stepupwakefield.com/

Can I get help to pay my Council Tax?

Your Council Tax pays for our essential services that are delivered to all residents in the district, so it's really important if your circumstances haven't changed that you continue to pay what you should. Please if you can, keep paying your direct debit payments, or payment plan, as detailed on your bill.


If you're struggling to pay your Council Tax because of the coronavirus outbreak, support is available and we can help you.


Here's what you should do:


1. Make sure that you've claimed all the benefits that you're entitled to

For working age people this is Universal Credit from the DWP and Council Tax Support from the Council.


Additional help to pay Council Tax due to Covid-19

The Government has announced additional help for working age households who are on a low income. Households in receipt Council Tax Support for 2020/21 will also receive a further reduction of up to £150 from their Council Tax bill. We will automatically award this extra help to these households and revised bills will be issued shortly.


Read more about the support available here.


2. Get in touch with us

We encourage anyone who is struggling to contact us using our Council Tax enquiry form so that we can make sure that you're getting all the support you're entitled to.


We may be able to change your payment plan so that you don't have to start paying in April, and we can arrange for your payments to spread out over a longer period of time.


We can also look at your arrears and consider everything you owe to us to avoid any extra costs or charges.


We're expecting a high number of calls to our contact centre, so if possible, please contact us using our contact form and we'll contact you as soon as possible.

Changes to Jobcentre appointments and Universal Credit

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) have announced that people receiving benefits no longer need to attend Jobcentre appointments.

People will continue to receive their benefits as normal, but all requirements to attend the Jobcentre in person are suspended. These changes will be in place for 3 months from 19 March 2020.

Anyone already claiming Universal Credit who thinks they may have been affected by coronavirus should contact their work coach using the online journal, or
calling the Universal Credit helpline.

The Chancellor has announced that the standard rate in Universal Credit and tax credits will be increased by £20 a week for one year from 6 April.

People applying for Universal Credit, Employment Support Allowance or other benefits should not go to a Jobcentre but apply for them online.

Suspension of face-to-face assessments for sickness and disability benefits

Face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits have been suspended. This includes new claimants.

The DWP will ensure those who are entitled to a benefit continue to receive support, and that new claimants are able to access the safety net.

This affects claimants of Personal Independence Payment, those on Employment and Support Allowance and some on Universal Credit, as well as recipients of Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. These changes will be in place for 3 months from 17 March 2020.

Understanding Universal Credit

I can't pay my mortgage

The DWP is offering help in the form of Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI). Visit their website to find out if you qualify.

Our Homeowner Support team is here to support you if you are struggling to afford your mortgage or are worried about making future payment during these times.

Please contact the team on 01924 305892 or email mortgagehelp@wakefield.gov.uk

You can also ask your mortgage provider about the 3 month mortgage holiday.

I'm on a zero hour contract and have been laid off

You may be eligible for Universal Credit to help with your living costs.

More information about how to apply for Universal Credit

You'll have to apply as a couple if you and your partner live together but you don't need to be married.

You might also need to phone the Universal Credit helpline to book an interview with a work coach. You'll be told if you need to do this after you apply.

Universal Credit Helpline: 0800 328 5644 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

You may also be eligible for help to meet some of the cost of Council Tax, this is called Council Tax Support.

More information on how to apply for Council Tax Support

If you're making a new claim for Universal Credit we will treat your Universal Credit claim as a Council Tax Support claim as long as you say you want to claim Council Tax Support at the same time. You don't have to make a separate claim for Council Tax Support.

I'm self-employed and not earning enough to pay my bills

You may be eligible for Universal Credit to help with your living costs.

More information about how to apply for Universal Credit

The government has temporarily removed the Minimum Income Floor and will calculate your Universal Credit based on your actual earnings.

Universal Credit Helpline: 0800 328 5644 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

You may also be eligible for help to meet some of the cost of Council Tax, this is called Council Tax Support.

More information on how to apply for Council Tax Support

If you're making a new claim for Universal Credit we will treat your Universal Credit claim as a Council Tax Support claim as long as you say you want to claim Council Tax Support at the same time. You don't have to make a separate claim for Council Tax Support.

I'm off sick with coronavirus - what are the rules?

As part of the Government's strategy to support people affected by coronavirus, DWP is making a number of changes to its benefit processes to make sure that people who need financial help have access to the benefit system.

More information on support for employees, benefits claimants and businesses.

I have no money for food or fuel

We can help you if you're a vulnerable resident experiencing a crisis or have an emergency that's out of your control. No cash payments will be given.

You can phone on 03458 506 506

I need help to pay my fuel bills

The Government has set out guidelines to the energy providers and no one should be cut off.

If you're on a pre-payment meter but cannot afford to top up or have problems paying your bill you should contact your provider.

If you're unable to leave your home to add credit due to coronavirus you should speak to your suppliers directly to discuss their options to keep you supplied.

Options may include nominating a third party to deal with making your credit top ups, pre-loaded top up cards or additional emergency credit allowance.

Our Energy Team are here to support you to save energy and be warmer in your home. Advice and support is available to help with accessing cheaper fuel deals and grants to make insulation and heating improvements.

Please contact the Team on 01924 305887 or email energyteam@wakefield.gov.uk.  

Whether your landlord is a private or social landlord, it's important that you keep in touch with them and let them know if you're going to miss a payment or not pay the full amount.

The DWP can help with rent costs and you should claim Universal Credit. This can include rent payments.

If you're struggling to pay your rent and are worried about eviction please contact the Housing Advice Team by emailing housingneedsservice@wakefield.gov.uk or you can call our customer service team on 0345 8 506 506.

If you've been served an eviction warrant, or your home is about to be repossessed, call our homelessness prevention advisors on 01924 304360 /62
If legal action is being taken against you because you owe money, you can get free support and advice from Citizens Advice.

The Universal Credit money I get for rent does not cover the full amount of rent I have to pay

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) can help if you are struggling to pay your rent. You must live in the Wakefield district to apply for them.

To get a discretionary payment towards your rent you must either:

  • be entitled to some Housing Benefit from us; or
  • be getting Universal Credit that includes something towards your housing costs.


There's no right for anyone to a discretionary payment. We'll look at your case to decide if you need extra support.

More information on how to apply for DHP

Is there any other help for renters?

If you'll struggle to pay rent during the coronavirus outbreak you should speak to your landlord as soon as possible to let them know your situation and work out a repayment plan.

If you are struggling to get your landlord to do any essential repairs to your rented home, please contact the Housing Enforcement Team on 01924 306665.

Help with debts, bills, and borrowing

A range of support is available to all Wakefield residents to help tackle the key financial challenges and barriers to maintaining a healthy household and meeting priority payments.

If you would like any help with money, debt and budgeting advice, please contact the Money Smart team on 01924 305887 or email moneysmart@wakefield.gov.uk

More information about these services and other help the Council provides can be found under More Money In My Pocket.

Income Related Free School Meals

We know that schools and education settings are concerned about the impact of coronavirus on pupils currently eligible for income-related free school meals.

The government has provided guidance on free school meals during coronavirus

This guidance explains what schools should do to make sure eligible pupils have continued access to free school meals where:

  • the pupil has to stay at home because they and/or wider family members are displaying coronavirus related symptoms
  • the school is only open for certain groups or is closed temporarily
Looking after your money online

Last year it was reported that fraudsters stole an average of £775 from each victim, to make sure you are staying safe online, check out the 12 Scams of Christmas page for more information.

Help at the Hub 

Help at the Hub is a new service to help everyone deal with the impact of coronavirus on things like jobs, money and wellbeing. Find out more here.