#BeyondCovid – Employment benefits

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen many people unfortunately lose their job. Our Welfare Rights Officer, Tracey Millar provides some of the financial support you may be entitled to while looking for work.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for everybody. It has affected people in different ways.

From not being able to see family or friends to not being able to work or for some people unfortunately losing their job.

Losing your job at any time can be very challenging but losing your job during a pandemic can make it feel even more so.

It can be daunting looking for work during a pandemic, but if you have a long-term health condition or disability such as epilepsy it can sometimes feel twice as hard.

You may feel worried that you are going to struggle financially and struggle to pay the bills. However, there is support out there to help you whilst you look for another job.

Below is just some of the financial support you may be entitled to.

You may wish to contact Citizen Advice Scotland, your local Citizen Advice Bureau or a Welfare Rights Advice agency to check your entitlement.

You can also call the “Money Matters” CAS telephone number on 0800 085 7145 as they are funded to do “what if benefit” calculations.


Universal credit

Universal Credit is a payment to help with your living costs. It is usually paid monthly but in Scotland it can be paid fortnightly by requesting the Scottish Choices alternative.

Your rent can also be paid straight to your landlord in Scotland under these rules. You can request the Scottish Choices through your universal credit journal. Your job coach can also help you apply for the Scottish Choices.

The standard allowance increased on 12 April 2021. For example, for a single Universal Credit Claimant (aged 25 and over) it has increased from £409.89 to £411.51 a month.

This rate will remain in place until the withdrawal of the temporary uplift.

You may be able to get Universal Credit if:

  • you’re on a low income or out of work
  • you’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
  • you’re under State Pension age (or your partner is)
  • you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you
  • you live in the UK

To check if you are entitled go to the following link: www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators

To apply go to the following link: www.gov.uk/universal-credit/how-to-claim

There is also a funded UC help to claim service provided by the Citizens Advice Bureau, 0800 0232581.


New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)

If you’re unemployed or work less than 16 hours a week you may be able to get New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).

New Style JSA is a fortnightly payment that can be claimed on its own or at the same time as Universal Credit.

New Style JSA is a contribution based benefit. Normally, this means you may be able to get it if you’ve paid and/or been credited with enough National Insurance (NI) contributions in the two full tax years before the year you’re claiming in.

If you qualify, you can get New Style JSA for up to 182 days. After this, your work coach will talk to you about your options.

If you qualify for both New Style JSA and Universal Credit, any New Style JSA you receive will be taken into account as income for Universal Credit.

More information can be found here: www.gov.uk/guidance/new-style-jobseekers-allowance


Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

You can apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you have a disability or health condition that limits your capability to work. As per New Style JSA this is dependent upon NI contributions.

Also, you may also be able to get ESA if you were unable to work while self-isolating or ‘shielding’ because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

ESA gives you:

  • money to help with living costs if you’re unable to work
  • support to get back into work if you’re able to

You can usually claim when employed and Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) has ended or if you are already in receipt of ESA.

More information can be found here: www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance/your-esa-claim


Support for Self-Employed

There will be a fifth grant for people who are self-employed covering May 2021 to September 2021.

Guidance on how to claim the fifth grant will be provided in due course on the GOV.UK website.

Check if you can claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

For more information on the different types of benefits you can receive, please go to www.gov.uk/browse/benefits