COVID-19: National guidance and useful links


COVID-19: National guidance and useful links


As Scotland enters its second week in lockdown and latest figures showing 1563 positive coronavirus cases across the country, the virus is having a deep and lasting impact in communities far and wide.

There’s no one size fits all profile to those struggling as the nation grapples with the global pandemic and Scots are finding themselves searching for information they never imagined they would need to get through daily life.

From social distancing and self-isolation to searching for support if you’re self-employed and unable to work, knowing where to start to find reliable information can seem easier said than done.

Here we shine a light on the national guidance surrounding coronavirus as well as useful links to help you ensure you receive the benefits and support you’re entitled to during the outbreak

Stay at home, protect Scotland’s NHS

As the number of positive coronavirus cases continues to rise across Scotland, people are being asked to stay at home and adhere to strict measures for the coming weeks in a bid to curb the outbreak.

Scots are being asked to stick to the new guidelines set out by the Scottish Government to slow the spread of coronavirus and prevent mounting pressure on the NHS – with the nation being reminded people can spread the virus even if they don’t have symptoms.

Guidelines include:

  • only going outside for food, health / medical reasons or for work if you cannot work from home.
  • if you do go out, you should always stay two metres (six-foot) away from others.
  • wash your hands as soon as you get home and regularly throughout the day.
  • don’t meet others out with your household, even friends or family.

Regular updates can be found at the Scottish Government’s dedicated site here, however, if you’re unsure about where to apply for financial support we have compiled a list of useful links below.

Steps to take if you have coronavirus symptoms

If you show symptoms of COVID-19 it’s vital you know what your next steps should be.

If you develop a new cough and/or a fever / high temperature in the last seven days, you should stay at home from the start of your symptoms – even if you think they’re mild.

You should call your GP if your symptoms:

  • are severe or you are short of breath
  • worsen during isolation
  • haven’t improved after seven days

If you become breathless or your symptoms worsen you should phone your GP, especially if you:

  • are over the age of 60
  • have underlying health conditions, including heart or lung problems
  • have a weakened immune system, including cancer
  • are diabetic

If your GP is closed, phone NHS 24 (111) but if you have a medical emergency phone 999 and tell them you have coronavirus symptoms.

Full information and guidance, including checking your symptoms, can be found here

Financial help for those in work and not claiming benefits

Anyone currently unable to work due to the coronavirus, whether that’s through self-isolation or because they have contracted the virus, can apply for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

You can get £94.25 per week through SSP for up to 28 weeks and if you are unable to work whilst you are self-isolating you could receive payment for every day you’re in isolation. However, it’s important to note you must self-isolate for at least four days to be eligible.

To be eligible for SSP you must also be:

  • Classed as an employee and currently work for an employer – including agency workers
  • Earn at least £118 per week

The government has pledged if you find yourself in this situation you will receive payment from day one instead of day four of illness as has typically been the case and can claim for up to 28 weeks.

If you are a gig-economy worker or work on a zero hours contract, you could still be eligible for SSP and should check here, however, if not we have outlined further advice below.

If you are required to provide your employer with evidence of self-isolation because you show signs of coronavirus you can download an Isolation Note from NHS 111 online. Alternatively, if you need to isolate because another member of your household is showing symptoms, an Isolation Note can be found here.

Advice about how to apply for SSP and advice about any paperwork you may require can be found on the government website.

What if you’re not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay?

If you aren’t eligible to receive sick pay you can apply for Universal Credit or New Style Employment and Support Allowance.

If you are not eligible for SSP because you are self-employed, a gig economy worker or on a zero hours contact then you should consider Universal Credit.

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that people affected by the virus can access Universal Credit at the same rate as SSP – £94.25 a week

This year will see the standard allowance for Universal Credit increase by £1,000 per year for the next 12 months which means the standard allowance for a single claimant aged 25 or over rises to £409.89. This is an extra £20 a week for new and existing claimants.

What’s more, the working tax credit basic element – which had been replaced by Universal Credit for some – will be boosted by the same amount.

If you apply for Universal Credit your claim will be handled by telephone and no face-to-face interviews will take place during the outbreak.

For further information and to apply, click here.

Scots directly affected by coronavirus or those required to self-isolate can also apply for contribution-based employment and support allowance (ESA).

This benefit allows those aged 25 and over, who have paid enough national insurance contributions over the last two to three years, will receive up to £73 per week.

During the coronavirus outbreak, the government has advised that ESA can be claimed from the first day of sickness rather than the eighth day as usually the case, making it easier for more people to find support. However, it’s important to be aware that payments are made every two weeks, in arrears, so applicants should expect their first payment after a fortnight.

Visit the government website to apply or for more details.

What if you’re already claiming benefits?

If you’re already in receipt of benefits, there are a few changes it’s important to be aware of.

Those receiving benefits do not need to attend jobcentre appointments for three months – this was put into place by the government on March 19, 2020. People will continue to receive their financial support during this time, but personal meetings are suspended.

If you’re already receiving Universal Credit and have been affected by coronavirus you should contact your work coach as soon as possible through your online journal.

It’s also important to be aware that there will be changes to health assessments at this time. All face-to-face assessments have temporarily been suspended for health and disability-related benefits in a bid to protect those deemed to be most vulnerable with pre-existing health conditions.

If you have an assessment appointment arranged, you will not be asked to attend and your assessment provider will be in touch to discuss next steps.

The same applies for those who have made a claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Universal Credit or Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB). For those already receiving any of the above, your payments will continue as normal.

Worried about debt during the coronavirus outbreak?

If you’re concerned about debt and your finances during the coronavirus outbreak, it’s important to remember you’re not alone. At Carrington Dean we’re taking this situation seriously and are committed to offering professional advice to all. Call 0808 2085 195 to speak to an expert advisor.

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