Coronavirus – money and essentials

Coronavirus - money and essentials

Find out what is happening with disability benefits like DLA and PIP during Covid-19. Get information on sickness and employment benefits and other financial help and support.

Feeding your family

Shopping and getting food
Most issues around shopping and getting food have eased off now.  If you are having trouble getting to the shops because you are self-isolating or you are a single parent and would have to take your child with SEND with you, it is still fair enough to ask for help.

All local support like this is now listed on the Brighton & Hove Covid directory and there is specific information about shopping and food here. This directory is also the place to find out how to contact your local Covid 19 mutual aid group.

East Sussex County Council’s website has a page all about food shopping and delivery during the pandemic. For information about all community help and support in East Sussex you can visit the council’s Coronavirus help and support page.

If friends, neighbours or a local group are not able to give the help you need you can contact the Community Hub to ask for help

Brighton & HoveWhat the hub does and how to request help

East SussexWhat hubs can offer and details for each part of the county

These local Community Hubs are there to help people who are having trouble meeting their essential needs during the current crisis because they are vulnerable and isolated. They will try to respond if you are in urgent need and can’t get support from family, friends or neighbours. They can help if you cannot get to the shops or need to know about food banks.

If you are self-isolating for health reasons NHS Volunteer Responders can help you with shopping and fetching prescriptions.

Food banks

If you are having general financial difficulties see the last section on this page.

Brighton & Hove Food Partnership have information about to get hold of food if you are struggling because of the Coronavirus. This includes how food banks are operating now and information about free or low cost delivery services for groceries or meals: https://bhfood.org.uk/coronavirus-update/

Food banks in East Sussex are changing how they operate during the crisis so check before you try to use one. You can get an up to date list of East Sussex food banks on the ESCIS website

DLA and PIP

New claims

The DWP are still taking new claims for DLA and PIP as usual and there are no changes to eligibility criteria or rates. You can phone/email the Amaze helpline for advice and help if you are in East Sussex or Brighton & Hove. It may take a bit longer for us to help, but don’t miss out on these valuable benefits by delaying starting a claim. If you have started a PIP claim and you are worried you can’t get it back in time do ring the DWP to ask for an extension.

Renewals and reassessments

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic the government announced  that there would be no new reviews or reassessments for DLA and PIP, as well as Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance. These extensions have now come to an end and the DWP is sending out review packs as normal. Don’t ignore this. Contact the DWP and ask for more time if timescales feel really tight.  The same applies if your older young person is already on PIP and gets a PIP renewal pack.

If your child is getting DLA and due to turn 16 soon, you should still get asked to claim PIP. Do not ignore this invitation as you don’t want a break in your DLA award. Do ask for extra time to complete the pack if you need it, but you will still need to get it done soon.

If you were due to ask for your child’s claim to be reassessed because of a change in circumstances, for example to get the mobility component when your child turns five, you can still do this. If there is a change in your child or young person’s needs you should still contact the DWP to ask for review, so that you will get a backdate if you are successful when this is eventually carried out.

You can continue to phone/email the Amaze helpline for advice about reviews and reassessments.

Face to face assessments

The DWP stopped face-to-face assessments for health and disability-related benefits including PIP because of the pandemic and assessments have been on paper or by phone instead. The DWP have been gradually restarting face to face assessments since April 2021.  But the DWP say this will “only be for those who we are unable to fully assess by other channels” so most assessments will still be carried out on paper or by phone.

Reconsiderations and appeals

If you do not agree with the decision about your DLA or PIP claim, be aware the timescales for requesting a mandatory reconsideration or lodging an appeal are short and have not changed. If you need extra time to get advice do contact DWP and ask for more time given the current crisis.

You can continue to phone/email the Amaze helpline for advice about reconsiderations and appeals.

Appeal hearings During the pandemic appeals were dealt with on paper or by a telephone hearing. Some appeals are now taking place in person again, but most are still by phone or video link.

Carer's Allowance

Earlier in the pandemic the government changed the Carer’s Allowance rules so that a break in caring was ignored if it was caused by either the disabled person or their carer having Coronavirus symptoms, but this has ended and the normal rules now apply.

If your income has dropped at the moment it may be time to claim Carer’s Allowance. Check if your child gets the relevant rates of DLA or PIP to claim Carer’s Allowance if you are now under the earnings limit of £128 per week after deductions.

Sickness and employment benefits

Statutory Sick Pay and alternatives

Statutory sick pay (SSP) is available for eligible individuals diagnosed with Covid-19.  SSP will be payable from day one instead of day four for affected individuals.

You can get an isolation note through an online service from NHS 111. Isolation notes will provide employees with evidence for their employers that they have been advised to self-isolate and so cannot work due to coronavirus, because they have symptoms and have tested positive.

If you are not eligible to receive sick pay but but your income has dropped due to coronavirus, you may be able to apply for Universal Credit and/or apply for New Style Employment and Support Allowance. You may also be able to claim Universal Credit to top up your SSP. Citizens Advice explain who may be eligible and what you can get here.

See official government information on coronavirus and claiming benefits here. This has information on new claims and existing ones and covers more than just Universal Credit.

Help with financial difficulties

Emergency funds

If you are really short of money and it is becoming an urgent problem, you can ask the local Community Hubs for help in getting advice, accessing a food bank or fuel vouchers etc.

Brighton & Hovedetails of the hub and how to request help (scroll down for the request help link)

East Sussex: what community hubs do and details for each area of the county

If you get benefits or tax credits and need extra help to get essentials you can’t live without, your Local Discretionary Social/Support Fund may help:

Brighton & Hove local fund

East Sussex discretionary support scheme

Debt, benefits and employment advice

Citizen’s Advice have sound advice if you are struggling with paying your bills due to coronavirus. They can help you with steps to avoid having your utilities cut off or falling behind with rent or mortgage payments. Find out more.

National disability charity, Contact, produces reliable information on benefits and coronavirus for families with a disabled child. 

For working parents of disabled children and coronavirus find out more about your rights at the moment (including around redundancy or return to work) in the information from Working Families 

For local advice:

Brighton & Hove benefits, work and money advice services are all listed here on the local Covid directory

East Sussex families can contact East Sussex Welfare Benefits helpline on 0333 344 0681 or the East Sussex Citizens Advice centres

Family Fund grants
The Family Fund have been given additional money to make more grants this year to families with a disabled child who are on a low income. Visit their website to find out if you may be able to apply. Families can usually apply once a year for a Family Fund grant, but with this emergency funding this is more flexible. If you have not had a grant in 2021 you can apply now. Grants are for essential items to make life easier during the ongoing crisis. This can include computers and play equipment as well as household items such as cookers and fridges.

Disclaimer

Amaze has put together this list to try and answer some of the concerns families have expressed to us about how coronavirus will affect them. Our answers were compiled based on the latest advice from trusted sources such as Public Health England, the NHS, Brighton & Hove City Council, East Sussex County council and national or local news outlets reporting the same. Even with the reliability of our sources, we cannot take responsibility for the accuracy of the information or any actions taken as a result.

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