COVID-19 Policy update 2nd - 7th May

This week's update from our policy team covers information on social security, health, HMRC, employment and education.

Contents

Social Security Changes, Announcements, Information
  • Official DfC Announcements
  • Help Collecting Benefit Payments
  • MOT 1-year Exemption Announced
  • Coronavirus & Government Services Information from NI Direct
Health Updates
  • People with Signs of Cancer Urged to Contact GP
  • Stroke Support Helpline
  • Sure Start Family Support Online
  • Additional Funding for Care Homes
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • Guidance on Contact between Parents and Children
  • Helpline Information
HMRC Updates
  • Job Retention Scheme Updates
  • Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
  • COVID-19 and Working Tax Credits
  • Bounce Bank Loans Scheme
  • COVID-19 Protection Against Redundancy
  • Scams Update
Education
  • FAQ for Schools Opening
  • Summer 2020 Exams
  • Guidance on Vulnerable Children and Young People
  • Support for Parents and Children

Social Security Changes, Announcements, Information

Official DfC Announcements

Help Collecting Benefit Payments

  • Some people are unable to access their benefit or pension payments during the lock down because they’re self-isolating and have a Post Office card account (POCA) or use the Payment Exception Service.
  • DfC have put additional support in place to ensure those people receive their payments.  They’ve set up a single point of contact through ‘Make the Call’ to receive referrals from the COVID-19 Helpline or Post Office for immediate action.
  • Different options will be offered to people e.g. switching to a bank account, setting up an agent or appointee to collect money on behalf of a claimant, issuing a voucher payment so a trusted friend can collect their money.
  • To make a referral:
    • Call the COVID-19 Community Helpline on 0808-802-0020
    • Contact ‘Make the Call’ by phoning 0800-232-1271 or emailing makethecall@dfcni.gov.uk, cc Jimmy.Carter@communities-ni.gov.uk and Marie.Paul@communities-ni.gov.uk
    • If you email, make sure to include claimant’s name, address and phone number; and the subject line should read “Urgent for immediate action – claimant requires support re Covid19 situation”.
    • DfC will contact the claimant within 3 hours; if the call is taken on a weekend, the claimant will get a call back before 12pm on the following Monday.
  • In addition to DfC’s initiative, the Post Office continues to provide POCA services and anybody who’s concerned about going to their post office can nominate someone to use their card by completing a form; more information is available here https://www.postoffice.co.uk/post-office-card-account
  • For updates on delivery services, Post Office temporary closures, reduced hours and other Post Office information, see https://www.consumercouncil.org.uk/coronavirus/postal-services

MOT 1-year Exemption Announced

Coronavirus & Government Services Information from NI Direct

 

Health Updates

People with Signs of Cancer Urged to Contact GP

  • Anybody with symptoms or signs of cancer is urged to contact their GP, regardless of the lock down, and they’ll be assessed separately; watch this video for more information https://vimeo.com/413931056

Stroke Support Helpline

Sure Start Family Support Online

Additional Funding for Care Homes

COVID-19 Testing

Guidance on Contact between Parents and Children

Helpline Information

  • 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline:
    • This is open to women and men affected by domestic abuse or violence, 24/7, 365 days a year; Freephone 0808-802-1414 or email help@dsahelpline.org
  • Belfast City Council – Roma Community Support Helpline:
    • This offers support to the Roma community, and uses the Romanian language; call 077-3491-5138

HMRC and Employment Updates

Job Retention Scheme Updates

  The Job Retention Scheme has further updates this week, specifically at the following links:

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

COVID-19 and Working Tax Credits

Bounce Bank Loans Scheme

COVID-19 Protection Against Redundancy

Scams Update

  • HMRC continue to warm people about scam emails, calls and texts.  If anybody is contacted by an email that seems to be from HMRC saying financial help can be claimed or that a tax refund is owed, and asking them to click on a link or give information such as their name, credit card or bank details, they shouldn’t respond because this is a scam.
  • Suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC should reported by sending them to: phishing@hmrc.gov.uk

Education

FAQ for Schools Opening

Summer 2020 Exams

Guidance on Vulnerable Children and Young People

Support for Parents and Children