Financial support and welfare advice during coronavirus
We know this is a worrying time for the cystic fibrosis (CF) community, and many have questions and concerns about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it may affect them. We have tried to provide some answers to the frequent questions we’ve received to our helpline below. It’s important that people also seek advice from their CF team to support their decisions.
Last updated: 14 December 2021
Coronavirus restrictions remain in place across the UK, and vary by nation. In December, the Government reissued ‘work from home’ guidance for England, and across the rest of the UK the advice is also to work from home where possible. This is an evolving situation, and the most up to date information can be accessed via the links below.
People who were classed as clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) are asked to follow the same guidance as the rest of the population, and take advice from clinical teams as to whether additional precautions are needed.
The situation remains that most children with cystic fibrosis (CF) are no longer classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, though a small number remain on the shielding list on medical advice.
Read the latest general guidance and shielding guidance across the UK:
- England – general guidance and shielding guidance
- Wales – general guidance and shielding guidance
- Scotland – general guidance and shielding guidance
- Northern Ireland – general guidance and shielding guidance
If you or your children are struggling to cope with worries about the virus, visit our page on mental and physical health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In December, in response to the new Omicron variant, the Government reissued guidance for people in England to work from home where possible. Similar guidance is in place across the UK and is expected to be reviewed in January 2022.
Some people with CF have shared their concerns about returning to their workplace as and when restrictions ease. It may be useful to remember that cystic fibrosis can be classed as a disability, which means people with CF have the right to request reasonable adjustments at work.
You can read more about this, and find information to help explain cystic fibrosis to employers in our employment factsheet. You may also find the latest guidance from the CFMA helpful, as well as government guidance for those who were classed as clinically extremely vulnerable across the UK.
ACAS has provided some useful guidance for employees and employers, which is quite general but is also very clear and straightforward.
The ‘Safe At Work’ campaign has also produced a letter to employers which you may find useful if you are concerned about the risk of COVID-19 as and when you return to your workplace.
We will continue to keep this information updated.
If you are worried about the financial implications of any changes to your employment status, please speak to your CF specialist social worker or contact our Helpline, who can provide information on benefits and our welfare grant programme. The helpline can also arrange for you to have personalised advice from our Welfare and Rights Advisor or our Welfare Officer, who can support you to understand your rights and the options available. Further information about this can be found below.
For advice about Carers Rights at work, visit carers UK.
An important part of understanding your employment rights is knowing whether you are employed or self-employed. You can find useful definitions on the ACAS website.
It is very difficult to give general benefits advice, as your entitlement depends on many things, like who you live with, if you have a partner in employment, your savings situation, and your National Insurance record.
Another major factor is whether you have a good relationship with your employer, and if you are entitled to any contractual sick pay. Your employer can also get support.
Sometimes there are difficult decisions to make, and while we don’t always have the answers, we can support you and make sure you are well informed to make your own decisions weighing up practical arrangements, finances and risks to health.
If you are currently receiving any legacy benefits (see below), we would stress the importance of seeking specialist advice rather than following what has been reported in the press about claiming Universal Credit, as this could mean you are at risk of losing something else you receive.
Legacy benefits are:
- Child tax credit
- Housing benefit
- Income-related employment and support allowance
- Income-based jobseeker's allowance
- Income support
- Working tax credit
Here are answers to some more specific questions that you might have about financial support and benefits:
I am not able to work as I am self-isolating. What could I claim?
If you are unable to work due to COVID-19, see guidance from the Department for Work and Pensions to find out about support available to you. You may be entitled to a one-off payment of £500 through the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme if you are required to stay at home and self-isolate. If you are the parent or guardian of a child who has been told to self-isolate, you may also be entitled to this support payment. You can apply for the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment online or through the NHS COVID-19 app.
You will be eligible if you live in England and meet all the following criteria:
- You have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, including by the NHS COVID-19 app
- You are employed or self-employed
- You cannot work from home and will lose income as a result
- You are claiming at least one of the following benefits: Universal Credit, Working Tax Credits, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Pension Credit or Housing Benefit.
For support in other nations, see:
In addition, you could claim Statutory Sick Pay.
Anyone not eligible to receive sick pay, including those earning less than an average of £120 per week, some of those working in the gig economy, or self-employed people, may be able to able to claim Universal Credit and/or New Style Employment and Support Allowance.
What you can claim, if you have no income, will depend on your personal circumstances and your means/savings. You may be able to claim New-style Jobseeker’s Allowance, New-style Employment and Support Allowance and/or Universal Credit. However, please seek specialist advice before making any claims.
I’ve been advised to claim Universal Credit if I can’t work due to coronavirus but I’m not sure how I will cope with the five-week wait. Is there any help available?
It is possible to apply for an advance payment of Universal Credit, but this money does need to be paid back. You may be able to apply for a grant from the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, if you meet the criteria. There are also many other charities who offer non-repayable grants to help individuals on low incomes.
Please contact our Helpline if you need further information.
The Government has started to resume face-to-face health assessments for benefits. How will this affect me?
Face-to-face health assessments have resumed for benefits that can not be fully assessed by other channels. Face-to-face assessments will take place alongside existing paper-based assessments, and telephone assessments, which will continue to take place where suitable.
The Department for Work and Pensions has worked with its assessment providers to ensure that assessment centres are fully compliant with COVID-19 safety measures and on 29 March 2021 published detailed guidance for claimants to support the safe resumption of face-to-face assessments. This covers measures such as social distancing requirements, sanitisation, PPE and face coverings.
How is the Cystic Fibrosis Trust supporting those in most financial need at this difficult time?
The Trust has always provided emergency grants (as well as a range of other grants) to those in financial need, in order to help everyone with CF stay as well as possible. We are expanding our grant programme to provide more emergency grants right now, to protect the health of those with CF who are facing financial struggles by ensuring they are able to afford the food and basic essentials they need. More information and the grant application form can be found on our emergency grants page.
Our Helpline team are on hand if you have any questions about our grants, and can also put you in touch with our Welfare Team .
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Information on how the COVID-19 outbreak could affect your routine CF care, what to do if you contract COVID-19 and other frequently asked questions.
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