Support for families
In this section, we hope to provide general advice and links we have found to support families during this difficult time. We will add to this section as we find out more.
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council (RMBC) have setup a page on their website offering advice and support. There are a number of useful links and you can also subscribe for regular updates. To access this site, please use the following web address: https://www.rotherham.gov.uk/coronavirus
The Citizens Advice Bureau
The Citizens Advice Bureau has produced a wide range of guidance and information to support everyone during this time.
Their main page can be accessed at this address: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
Some useful links include:
What if you can't pay your bills because of Coronavirus - Click on the link
Coronavirus - Check what benefits you can get - Click on the link
If you can't afford to top up a prepayment meter - Click on the link
In this section, we have tried to share the most current advice available online to help with some of the financial questions arising during this crisis. Please note that this information was correct at the time of publishing but we would always recommend seeking further advice through agencies such as Citizens Advice before making any financial decisions.
Help for mortgages
On Tuesday 17th March, banks agreed with the Chancellor that they will offer 'forbearance' (tolerance and help) on mortgages. This means they all should offer those struggling a three-month 'holiday', allowing customers a temporary break from having to make mortgage payments during this time. Though it's worth noting this is a voluntary agreement with banks – it isn't compulsory for them to offer mortgage holidays. If you are going to apply for a mortgage holiday, it's best to do it online where possible, as phone lines are likely to have huge backlogs.
Help for renters
The Government has recommended that anyone who may struggle to pay rent during the coronavirus outbreak should speak to their landlord as soon as possible to let them know the situation and work out a repayment plan. It is also worth checking whether you're receiving all the financial help with housing you're entitled to, which could come from benefits such as universal credit.
The Government has also now announced that landlords won't be able to start eviction proceedings for at least the next three months, protecting private and social tenants (and private landlords can be given a three-month payment holiday on their buy-to-let mortgages if their tenants are experiencing financial difficulties due to coronavirus). The Government is introducing emergency legislation for this, though it's not yet clear when this will come into force.
The Government has also said that existing protocols for social landlords dealing with rent arrears will be extended to include private landlords too, to "support engagement" between landlords and tenants and help them solve disputes. It will ask landlords to be compassionate and allow tenants to stay in their homes wherever possible – while associations representing local government and housing associations have already said that no social renter should be evicted due to coronavirus.
Help for the self-employed
The Chancellor confirmed that self-employed people across the UK will be able to get an amount equivalent to 80% of their income, based on their average monthly profits – again, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.
Grants will start to be paid at the beginning of June, as a taxable lump sum covering March, April and May. And while the scheme's initially to cover these three months, the Chancellor has said it may be extended.
Those eligible will be contacted directly by HM Revenue & Customs – the Government has not said when this will be, only that it will happen "once the scheme is operational". At that point individuals will be asked to fill in an online form, and the grant will then be paid directly into your bank account.
For information on whether this applies to you follow the link - Help for self employed
Help with benefits
The government has postponed all face-to-face benefits assessments or appointments at the Jobcentre Plus until at least 19 June 2020. This means you don’t have to go to:
- interviews if you’re starting a claim for JSA, ESA or Universal Credit
- medical assessments for ESA, Universal Credit or PIP
- appointments with your work coach
Free School Meals
The Government has launched a national system which will provide shopping vouchers for any family in receipt of Free School Meals. School have contacted all families who are currently registered as Free School Meals and we have registered on the new system. However, the online ordering system is currently suffering from a number of problems resulting in vouchers not being available to send out. This is affecting all schools across the country and have been informed that the company, Enred, are working closely with the Government to resolve these technical issues as quickly as possible. As a school, we are contacting the company every day for updates and to try to move this forward. If you believe you may be entitled to Free School Meals, you can apply directly via the RMBC (Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council) website at:
Please note: Free School Meals are different to the Universal Infant Free School Meals which are available to all children in Reception (FS2), Y1 and Y2. This is the programme which provides a meal to all infant children regardless of financial circumstances. Only families eligible for Free School Meals are able to apply for the government vouchers during the Coronavirus crisis.