Advice during coronavirus

Help with money, housing and jobs during coronavirus

We appreciate that the coronavirus outbreak is a challenging time for everyone. We know that it's having a significant impact on people financially and is affecting many individuals, businesses and the local and national economy.

We're here to support our residents and businesses as much as we can, and we encourage you to contact us if you're struggling to pay your bills.

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.

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 14 days from the end of your isolation period otherwise they cannot be accepted.

Apply Now

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