Information on your finances
Support and information for all residents
Please be aware that the information on this page will be changing regularly in line with new announcements.
What Southend-on-Sea Borough Council can do
Housing Benefit and council tax
The current Housing Benefit service is up and running in the normal way. For all information on how to claim help with Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction please see our Benefits and Council Tax section.
For existing private tenant claims your Local Housing Allowance rate upon which your housing benefit entitlement is based, will increase from April. You do not need to do anything this will be an automatic change.
If you're on a low income, you may be entitled to some help towards paying your council tax. This is called Council Tax Reduction (CTR).
The free to use Benefits Calculator will advise you on your which benefit you maybe entitled to and how to claim them, this includes people affected by Coronavirus.
Housing Benefit Overpayment
Please contact the team direct if you are unable to make your normal payment. Please email your concerns or queries to [email protected]. If you do not have access to email then please telephone 01702 215241 between 8.45am and 5.00pm.
Essential Living Fund (ELF)
The scheme is designed to ease pressures on people unable to meet short term needs, through the provision of food and fuel funds.
All families, especially those on low incomes, face pressures at various times so that in itself is not a reason to award an ELF grant, the circumstance must be exceptional, beyond pressure than might normally be associated with low income.
More information is available and a link to apply can be found on our Essential Living Fund page.
If you do not have access to the internet, are having difficulties or need advice please telephone 03007900124 between 8.45am and 5.00pm.
Once you have submitted your application you will be contacted by phone to confirm if your application has been successful and details of any award that has been granted.
Coronavirus has had a large impact on the finances of some households; your income may have been reduced as a result of:
- being unable to continue to work due to self-isolation or illness, and only being entitled to Statutory Sick Pay
- your work hours being cut, or you have lost your job as your employer is unable to keep you on when their business is reduced or closed
- you currently being unable to work due to child care responsibilities, as your usual arrangement cannot continue due to the risk of the virus spreading, or due to school closures
Help with paying your rent or Council Tax.
Struggling to pay your Council Tax?
If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax due to current circumstances and need to talk to us for advice we are currently offering a call back service.
Please email us and make sure you include the following important information which will help us deal with your enquiry:
- type “Call Back Request” in the subject of your email
- make sure you include your Council Tax account number, telephone number, your name and your address in your email
- give a brief description of your query
We will aim to call you back within 3 working days. Our staff will be working from home using mobile phones and their number will be withheld. If you cannot accept withheld numbers please state this in your request and we will contact you by email.
In light of the situation surrounding COVID-19 and the impact this may have on residents, Southend-on-Sea’s Council Tax department has suspended all enforcement action with its commercial partners. The Council Tax and Finance Teams are looking at additional measures of support for our residents. We will announce any updates through our website and dedicated Coronavirus pages as well as social media.
COVID-19 Hardship Fund
If you are in receipt of Council Tax Reduction and are of working age, a further reduction of £150 will be applied to your Council Tax charge for the financial year 2020/2021.This reduction is a standard Government set rate.
You do not need to contact the Local Authority, the reduction will be automatically applied and a new bill will be issued.
Please be aware that the Council has already prepared and posted your Council Tax bill for 2020/2021 without accounting for the £150 reduction. Your new bill will be issued as soon as possible. If you have any questions please email [email protected].
Further grants are being worked on. Please continue to visit this page for further updates.
What the Department for Work and Pension are offering
Please follow the advice below if you are unable to work.
Worked for an employer
For people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or those who are unable to work because they are self-isolating in line with Government advice (this includes if they are self-isolating as a family member has the virus).You can claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). This can be claimed from day 1 if you were working for an employer and earning at least £188 a week (£120 from 1st April).
It is paid by your employer for a maximum of 28 week and is £94.25 (£95.85 from 1st April).
You can get an “isolation note” by visiting NHS 111 online and completing an online form, if needed by your employer.
Self-employed / Do not qualify for SSP
You can claim Universal Credit UC or contribution based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you paid sufficient National Insurance.
- UC Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed for those who have COVID-19 or are self-isolating, ensuring self-employed claimants will receive support for their nil income
- advance payments can be claimed
- the 7 day waiting period will not apply if claiming as affected by COVID-19
There is a dedicated page on the Understanding Universal credit website for claiming benefits during the coronavirus crisis.
If you are in work, and are staying at home due to COVID 19 or reducing your hours, you should report this via your online journal. The amount of UC you receive will be adjusted. Your work availability requirements will be removed to account for a period of sickness and you will not be sanctioned
From 6 April your standard allowance in UC will increase for one year by £20 per week. Also if a private renter the Local Housing Allowance Rate for housing cost will increase.
If you are considering making a claim for Universal Credit, Employment & Support Allowance or Jobseekers Allowance, make a claim online in the first instance. Please do not attend your local Jobcentre.
Whilst Jobcentres remain open they may have significantly reduced staffing and their priority will be to support people who are not able to use telephone and online services. Additionally, people already receiving benefits do not have to attend any Jobcentre appointments for at least 3 months, which started from Thursday 19 March 2020. People will continue to receive their benefits as normal but all requirements to attend the Jobcentre in person are suspended.
Working Tax Credit
The basic element in Working Tax Credit for one year will increase by £20 per week from April for all existing and new claims.
Sites are still functioning, but access is now restricted. They will still deliver face to face services where customers cannot access online or by telephone, but this should only for our most vulnerable customers and to ensure timely payment. Sites will all display a local phone number, and all have security who will control access in agreement with local managers.
What Central Government are offering
Get coronavirus support as an extremely vulnerable person
If you have a health condition that makes you especially vulnerable to coronavirus, the government is advising you to stay at home and take special steps to protect yourself you can register to get coronavirus support as an extremely vulnerable person.
Other financial help and assistance
For those in difficulty due to COVID-19, mortgage lenders will offer at least a three month mortgage holiday. This will also apply to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19.
Customers who are concerned about their current financial situation should contact their lender at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss if this is a suitable option for them.
Loans and Credit Cards
If you are experiencing difficulties paying back personal loans or credit card bills as a result of COVID-19 please speak to your lender who should have flexibility built into their schemes
The Money and Pensions Service have added two pages to their website which will be constantly monitored and updated which will provide direct guidance to the public about money in general and then more specific financial guidance and actions that people can take to help themselves:
Page last updated: 31/03/2020