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Employed and ill or affected by Coronavirus?

Last updated: 30th March 2020

This is a difficult time for many people and we understand that this may be the first time you have had to claim benefits.

We’ve tried to answer some questions you might have if you’re in employment and are ill or affected by Coronavirus and where possible provide signposting and guidance to help and support that is available to help you claim.

Am I entitled to sick pay?

Your rights to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) depend on your employment status and earnings.

If you’re an employee and earn at least £118 a week, you will be able to get £94.25 per week for up to 28 weeks. Normally you must be off for at least four days in a row, but the government has announced SSP will be paid from the first day you are off sick if it is related to Coronavirus.

If your employer refuses to pay SSP, or is not paying you the full amount, you should contact the HM Revenue and Customs statutory payment dispute team on 03000 560 630, Monday to Thursday: 8.30am to 5pm and Friday: 8.30am to 4.30pm.

Am I entitled to benefits?

If you are unable to get statutory sick pay, you may be entitled to other benefits:

Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (C-ESA)

This can be claimed if you are ill and unable to work. Normally it is payable from the 8th day of your claim, but if you are ill or self-isolating due to the coronavirus, it is payable from the 1st day of your claim, which you can backdate to 13 March 2020. You cannot get C-ESA at the same time as SSP. It is not means-tested except if you receive more than £85 per week pension income.

Find out more on making a claim for Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (C-ESA).

Note: For the contributory benefits you’ll need to meet National Insurance conditions for the last 2 complete tax years before you claim – in 2020 these years are 2017/18 and 2018/19.

To meet the National Insurance conditions, you’ll need to have either paid enough National Insurance:

  • in both of the last two tax years
  • in one of the last two tax years and been credited (usually via a benefits claim) with enough National Insurance contributions in the other tax year

Contributory Job Seekers Allowance (C-JSA)

This can be claimed if you are out of work, or working less than 16 hours per week, and looking for work/additional work. If you are working your earnings are taken into account; it is otherwise not means-tested.

Note that if you are unpaid leave from work but are still employed, you may have difficulty claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance as they may argue you are not available for work. However, you should still be able to claim Universal Credit (see below).

Find out more on making a claim for Contributory Job Seekers Allowance (C-JSA).

Note: For the contributory benefits you’ll need to meet National Insurance conditions for the last 2 complete tax years before you claim – in 2020 these years are 2017/18 and 2018/19.

To meet the National Insurance conditions, you’ll need to have either paid enough National Insurance:

  • in both of the last two tax years
  • in one of the last two tax years and been credited (usually via a benefits claim) with enough National Insurance contributions in the other tax year

Universal Credit

This is the means-tested benefit to claim if you are working-age and have a low income and savings. If you have a partner their income and savings are taken into account too and you have to claim together. How much you get depends on your circumstances – extra is paid for rent and for children. It is claimed online and paid monthly, including the rent element. The government has said that if you are claiming due to being ill or self-isolating due to the coronavirus that you won’t need to attend the Jobcentre.

Find out more on making a claim for Universal Credit.

Council Tax Support/Reduction

This is essential to claim alongside other benefits for help towards your council tax bill. This is means-tested but rules vary between local authorities.

Visit Halton Borough Council’s dedicated website page.

Pension Credit

If you (and your partner if you have one) have reached your state pension age, you may be able to claim Pension Credit and Housing Benefit instead.

Find out more about Pension Credit or call 0800 99 1234.

To claim Housing Benefit, contact Halton Borough Council.

I am self-employed

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme is being made available by the Government. Use this scheme if you’re self-employed or a member of a partnership and have lost income due to coronavirus.

This scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed.

Find out more here.

Some people with disabilities

If you (and your partner if you have one) are entitled to a ‘severe disability premium’ on any benefits, then seek advice on what you should claim as it should not be Universal Credit.

Help and support available to make a claim for benefits

We recognise that for many people, this will be the first time they have needed to claim benefits.

You can get help and support to make a claim for Universal Credit online from:

Universal Credit

0800 328 5644

Citizens Advice

0800 144 8 444

Step Change

0800 138 1111

We can support you whilst you make your claim for Universal Credit so please call our Welfare Benefits and Money Advice team if you are experiencing any difficulties.

You can receive up to a month’s advance upfront without physically attending a Jobcentre. The seven waiting days for ESA for new claimants suffering from Coronavirus or required to stay at home will not apply, so it will be payable from day one.

For more information, including making a claim for a Discretionary Housing Payment, a Council Tax Reduction or Housing Benefit, visit Halton Borough Council’s Council Tax and Benefits website page.

Our Welfare Benefit Money Advice Team is available for customers and members of their household to seek advice and assistance with all matters relating to welfare benefits, debt and money advice. You can contact the team by calling 0151 510 5024 or by making a referral by our App.

The team are extremely busy trying to help as many customers as possible. If you are struggling to get through, try one of these alternatives:

Money Advice Service

0800 138 7777

Citizens Advice Helpline

0344 477 2121

Stepchange (Debt advice)

0800 138 1111

Business Debt Line

0800 197 6026

Business Support Helpline (England)

0300 456 3565

If you are worried about falling into arrears because you cannot pay us in the short term because of Coronavirus, you can discuss setting up a payment plan with our Debt Recovery Team as soon as you can on 0151 510 5204 or

Alternatively, Take a look at our Coronavirus: Rent and money worries help and support page for more information.

Related Help & Support Articles

Find helpful articles on finding your next home with Halton Housing, and how to apply for a home here.

Help & Support Categories

We have 6 Help and Support categories to help make finding the help and advice you’re looking for that little bit easier, the categories include: Your Home, Health and Wellbeing, Help with Halton, Online Accessibility, Payments and Money and Your Career.

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