Reduced Services

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

In line with social distancing advice and to protect residents and staff the Council has taken the decision to close the Council offices to the public until further notice.

Whilst the offices are closed to visitors, you are still able to access services and information from this website 24/7.

Information and advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) and how to access Council Services during this period can be found on our Coronavirus information page

We ask that all residents #StayHomeSaveLives – see a Message from the Leader of the Council

Coronavirus Housing Advice

We appreciate that your change in income due to the Coronavirus may be affecting your ability to pay your rent. Please be advised that your rent does still need to be treated as a priority payment, as rent arrears may lead to eviction.

We understand that this is a difficult time, but there are extra provisions you can claim to ensure you are able to pay this whilst continuing the upkeep of your essential living costs.

New Claims

Whether you are in or out of work, if you have had a change to your income and are struggling to pay your rent/ bills, then you can make a claim for Universal Credit. Universal Credit is a monthly benefit to help with your monthly living costs, it includes benefits to help towards paying your rent.

Applications must be submitted online at www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit

More information on Universal Credit can be found on www.gov.uk/universal-credit

Those affected by Coronavirus will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance up front without physically attending a Job Centre.

If you would like further assistance with this, you will need to contact Universal Credit - 0800 328 5644.

If you are already claiming Child/Working Tax Credits, please make a claim for Housing Benefit instead. You will need to apply online at www.castlepoint.gov.uk/how-to-claim

If you need further support in claiming Housing Benefit you can email the Benefits team at benefits@castlepoint.gov.uk or call 01268 882200.

If you’re in or were in work and not claiming Benefits

If you are employed/self-employed on a zero hours contract but unable to work due to Coronavirus, you may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay. You will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of your illness. 

Statutory Sick Pay will be payable if you are staying at home on Government advice, not just if you are infected by Coronavirus. This will apply from 13th March 2020. If you need to provide evidence to your employer that you need to stay at home due to Coronavirus, you will soon be able to get it from NHS 111 Online instead of having to get a Fit Note from your doctor. This is currently under development and will be available soon.

If you are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, then you need to make a claim for Universal Credit following the instructions above.

If you have been in employment within the last 2 to 3 years and have paid enough National Insurance contributions, then you may be able to claim ‘New Style Job Seekers Allowance’.

New Style JSA can be claimed on its own or at the same time as Universal Credit. Your savings and capital (or your partner’s savings, capital and income) are not taken into account when claiming New Style JSA. You can apply online at www.gov.uk/guidance/new-style-jobseekers-allowance

If you are already claiming Benefits

If you are already claiming Housing Benefit and your income has reduced, please inform Housing Benefit. You need to email them at benefits@castlepoint.gov.uk to request a Change of Circumstances form, so the amount you are receiving can be re-assessed.

If you are already working and claiming Universal Credit but are staying at home on Government advice, you should report this in the usual way via your online journal. If this means you are working fewer hours, the amount of Universal Credit you receive will adjust as your earnings change.

If you are self-employed and claiming Universal Credit, but are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of Coronavirus, the minimum income floor (an assumed level of income) will not be applied for a period of time whilst you are affected.
If you require more support with this you can call them on 0800 328 5644.

Extra help towards your rent and Council Tax

If you are struggling with paying your rent or monthly top up in rent, you can make a claim for a ‘Discretionary Housing Payment’. This is a grant that can be awarded to help people in times of hardship.

In order to apply you need to either-
- Have made a new claim for Universal Credit
- Already be claiming Universal Credit or Housing Benefit

To make a claim you need to apply online at www.castlepoint.gov.uk/discretionary-housing-payments

Likewise, if you have had a change in income you may be entitled to some support in paying your Council Tax by means of applying for ‘Council Tax Support’. This is a discount that will be applied to your Council Tax, currently the maximum discount is 70%. To make a claim you need to apply online at www.castlepoint.gov.uk/local-council-tax-support

If you are still unable to afford your Council Tax you can in addition apply for the ‘Exceptional Hardship Fund’ which could further reduce your Council Tax. To apply for this you can complete the Discretionary Housing Payment form as above, but you must state that it is for the ‘Exceptional Hardship Fund’. Alternatively, you can email benefits@castlepoint.gov.uk explaining your circumstances and request to be considered for the Exceptional Hardship Fund.

Mortgaged properties

If you have a mortgage on your property that you are unable to meet due to your change in income, then you need to contact your mortgage lender for support. Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, lenders are now offering a range of options including a potential three month mortgage payment holiday, extending your mortgage term or switching to an interest only mortgage.

Please note it will depend on who your lender is so you will need to contact them directly for full advice on your options.

Social Tenants

If you are a social housing tenant with Castle Point Borough Council, the advice is the same as above. However if you want to discuss it further please contact Tenancy Management if you are a Council tenant, or your housing association if you are a housing association tenant.

Tenancy Management - TenancyOfficers@castlepoint.gov.uk

Other useful links

Citizens Advice Bureau - www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Shelter - https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/coronavirus

For further advice, please place an enquiry with our Housing Options team via the following link Housing Options Assessment Form