COVID-19 – Help and Support
As a country, we need to come together and ensure that the implications of COVID-19 do not result in anybody being left behind. There are some amazing community groups currently operating in our constituency to aid the most vulnerable in society. Government advice and information, including for services provided by local authorities, is also available for anybody who may need it.
COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. The symptoms of the disease which are requiring people to stay at home are a high temperature and a new and continuous cough. If you have any of these symptoms, please stay at home. Do not go to a GP surgery, hospital or pharmacy.
There is no need to ring NHS 111 if you are staying at home. Use of the number is encouraged, however, if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, your condition gets worse or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days.
The following information has been taken from the NHS website which I am encouraging everyone to take note of.
COVID-19 Information and Resources
NHS and Protecting Yourself
- For the latest NHS guidance please go to www.nhs.uk/coronavirus
- Current Government self-isolation guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection can be found here.
- Anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) should arrange to have a test to see if they have COVID-19. Go to https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing/ for information on getting a test and understanding your result.
- For information on the Government’s test and trace service, please click here.
- For NHS information on the Coronavirus vaccine, please visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/
- Local coronavirus information, including details about rapid community testing, can be found on Newham Council’s website – https://www.newham.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19
Social Distancing and Lockdown Restrictions
- National lockdown rules currently apply to England.
- Currently, only certain businesses may currently remain open, following COVID-19 secure guidelines. This includes supermarkets and pharmacies. Full information on the current closure status of different businesses and venues across England can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/closing-certain-businesses-and-venues-in-england
- For the full information on the lockdown rules, please visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home
The Government has published a document detailing the plan to ease lockdown restrictions. The timetable for the easing of restrictions is taking place in four steps, with a minimum of five weeks between each step.
Any easing of restrictions is subject to certain conditions being met following a data review against the Government’s four public health tests, as the vaccination programme is rolled out.
For full details of rule changes please go to https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021
As part of Step 1, rules changed on the 8 March:
- Stay at Home remains in place – unnecessary travel should be avoided
- Exercise and recreation is allowed in outdoor public spaces with your household, support bubble OR one person from outside your household
- Household only indoors
- Wraparound care for children may resume (including sport)
- Funerals can take place with up to 30 people
- Weddings and wakes may take place with up to 6 people
- The rules on visiting care homes have changed to allow regular indoor visits for a single named visitor.
Further rule changes are taking place on 29 March:
- ‘Stay at Home’ is lifted but restrictions remain in place. You should continue to minimise travel and work from home where possible.
- A group of 6 people OR two households may meet outside
- Household only indoors
- Formally organised outdoor sport may resume for both children and adults
- Outdoor sport and leisure facilities may reopen
- Outdoor parent and child groups are permitted up to 15 parents
- International travel is not permitted for holidays
Step 2, no earlier than 12 April:
- Rule of 6 OR two households outdoors
- Household only indoors
- All retail and personal care may reopen
- Outdoor hospitality may reopen
- Indoor leisure including gyms will reopen for individual or household use only
- Outdoor attractions such as zoos and theme parks can open
- Libraries and community centres may reopen
- All indoor children’s activities are permitted, including indoor parent and child groups with up to 15 parents
- Domestic overnight stays and self-contained accommodation is permitted for households only
- Weddings and wakes can take place with up to 15 people
- International travel for holidays is not permitted and unnecessary travel should continue to be minimised
There is guidance on reopening businesses and venues which explains which business will be permitted to open at each step of the roadmap.
- If you are defined on medical grounds as clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19, you should have received a letter confirming this or have been told directly by your GP or hospital clinician.
- The Government is advising that, under new lockdown restrictions, those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should follow resumed shielding guidance. You should not attend work, school, college or university and try to limit the time you spend outside your home to essential reasons only. Please visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19#further-advice-at-tier-4-stay-at-home for full information.
- These formal shielding measures will apply across the whole of England until at least 31 March.
- From 1 April, if you have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable you will no longer be advised to shield. However, it as advised that you continue to take extra precautions to protect yourself.
Support if you are shielding
- You are advised not to go to the shops. Use online shopping if you can, or ask others to collect and deliver shopping for you. NHS Volunteer Responders can help with shopping needs or collecting prescriptions.
- You can register for support if you are clinically extremely vulnerable to Coronavirus. You can use this service to ask for priority access to supermarket deliveries, and ask your local authority to contact you about local support available. Please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-shielding-support
- You can also contact your local council directly at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-local-help
- Coronavirus support for vulnerable and high risk people by Newham Council can be found at https://www.newham.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/covid-19-support-vulnerable-high-risk-people/1
- For full information on work and financial support, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/worker-support
- If you are still employed but do not currently have work due to COVID-19, the Government will be providing grants to employers to cover 80% of employees’ salaries as part of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, up to £2500 per month. You must have been employed and on payroll on 30 October 2020. The scheme will end on 30 April 2021. Visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-what-to-do-if-youre-employed-and-cannot-work for more information.
- If your income is reduced as a result of coronavirus closures or your employer has less hours for you, you may be able to claim Universal Credit or New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) alongside it, provided you meet eligibility requirements. Click here for detail.
- If you have lost your job due to coronavirus, you may be able to claim Universal Credit, JSA or Pension Credit. You can find more information and eligibility at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-what-to-do-if-you-were-employed-and-have-lost-your-job
- Please visit https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit for full information on applying for Universal Credit.
If you are employed but cannot work because you are self-isolating, shielding or cannot work from home
- If you need to self-isolate and your employer requires evidence, you can get an ‘isolation note’ by visiting 111.nhs.uk/covid-19. DO NOT call NHS 111.
You may be able to claim:
- Universal Credit
- Pension Credit – if you and your partner have reached state pension age and earn less than £265.20 per week (£173.75 for single people)
- Test and Trace Support payment of £500
- Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for everyday you miss work due to coronavirus. If you work in the ‘gig’ economy or on a zero-hours contract, you need to check with your employer if you are entitled to SSP. You cannot claim SSP if you are on furlough.
- New Style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you aren’t entitled to SSP. You may be able to claim if you have a disability or health condition which affects how much you can work, or if you are directly affected by coronavirus. This would include you or your child having coronavirus, self-isolating or shielding.
You may be able to claim multiple at once. You cannot claim ESA alongside SSP or JSA. Please go to https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-what-to-do-if-youre-employed-and-cannot-work for full detail.
- If you are self-employed and getting less or no work due to coronavirus, you may be entitled to a Test and Trace support Payment, New Style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Universal Credit or Pension credit. Go to https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-what-to-do-if-youre-self-employed-and-getting-less-work-or-no-work for more detail.
- There is also specific guidance for self-employed people claiming Universal Credit.
- The next set of self-assessment tax payments due by July 31 have been deferred to 31 January 2021.
- If you are struggling to pay your tax bill on time, click here for information about your options, including Time To Pay Arrangements.
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
On the 26 March 2020, the Chancellor announced the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). This enabled self-employed people to claim for 80% of their profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the three months from 1 March 2020. SEISS is open to businesses with profits of less than £50,000 in 2018-19 or average annual profits of less than £50,000 from 2016 to 2019. To qualify, more than half of a person’s income must have come from self-employment during these periods.
You may be entitled to a fourth grant through SEISS if you have been impacted by the coronavirus crisis. At the 2021 Budget, it was confirmed that the fourth SEISS grant will be set at 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits, paid out in a single instalment, capped at £7,500.
The fourth grant will take into account 2019 to 2020 tax returns and will be open to those who became self-employed in tax year 2019 to 2020. The rest of the eligibility criteria from the previous three grants remain unchanged.
You must have submitted your 2019 to 2020 tax return by 2 March 2021 to be eligible.
The online claims service for the fourth grant will be available from late April 2021 to 31 May 2021. More information will be announced in due course.
Please visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/self-employment-income-support-scheme-grant-extension/self-employment-income-support-scheme-grant-extension for further details about eligibility and applying.
The Government has also announced a fifth and final grant covering May to September.
The fifth grant will be worth:
- 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £7,500, for those with a turnover reduction of 30% or more
- 30% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £2,850, for those with a turnover reduction of less than 30%
The amount of the fifth grant will be determined by how much your turnover has been reduced in the year April 2020 to April 2021. You will be able to claim from late July if you are eligible for the fifth grant.
Further detail will be announced in due course. For more information please visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/self-employment-income-support-scheme-grant-extension/self-employment-income-support-scheme-grant-extension
- For full information on support for businesses and self-employed people during the coronavirus pandemic, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support
- Full a full list of financial support schemes your business may be eligible for, please visit https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19.
- Alternatively, use this business support finder to see what support is available to you and your business.
- If your business had to close or has been affected as a result of national Coronavirus restrictions in place as of 5 January 2021, you may be eligible for various financial support. Go to https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19#support-for-businesses-affected-by-coronavirus-restrictions for full information.
- There is guidance on reopening businesses and venues which explains which business will be permitted to open at each step of the roadmap.
- If you run a business or are self-employed and need guidance on paying taxes contact the HMRC Coronavirus helpline on 0800 024 1222 or on webchat, open Monday – Friday 8am-4pm.
Education and Childcare
- From 8 March, Schools and colleges are open to all students. Please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/education-and-childcare for full information regarding education and childcare.
- In England, secondary school pupils and college students are tested twice a week at school or college. Nursery, school and college staff are also tested twice a week at work.
- You can get twice-weekly rapid lateral flow tests if you’re in a household, childcare or support bubble with nursery, school or college staff or pupils. Go to https://www.gov.uk/guidance/rapid-lateral-flow-testing-for-households-and-bubbles-of-school-pupils-and-staff for more information on testing.
- Regarding childcare, parents and carers can continue to access early years settings and form childcare bubbles with one other household, where the child is under 14. Visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/making-a-childcare-bubble-with-another-household for more information about childcare bubbles.
- On 8 March, all wraparound childcare resumed. Children’s activities also restarted only where it is needed to enable parents to work, seek work, attend education, seek medical care or attend a support group. Vulnerable children can attend children’s activities in all circumstances.
- University students on practical education courses who have not already return may return to higher education from 8 March. Click here for further information for university students.
- Go to https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home#going-to-school-or-college for updated information regarding education as lockdown rules change.
- There are some provisions in place to support children and families in need to access technology necessary for remote, online learning. Please visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-help-with-technology-for-remote-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19
- The Government has confirmed that GCSE, A Level and AS Level exams will not take place this summer. The Government has stated it is working with Ofqual to put in place alternative arrangements for exam results. Click here for full details.
- Public exams and vocational assessments are still scheduled to go ahead as planned.
- For information about Free School meals, go to https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools
All education and childcare related guidance can be found here. Additionally, you can call the Department for Education’s Coronavirus hotline on 0800 046 8687 which is open Monday-Friday 8am-6pm.
- Borrowers who have not yet had a mortgage payment holiday will be able to apply for a holiday for up to 6 months, until 31 March 2021. Borrowers who have already had or are on a payment holiday will be able to ‘top-up’ to a total of six months of payment holidays.
- It is important to note that mortgage holidays are not automatic, and you will need to apply with your lender to work out your individual eligibility.
- Many banks are also offering help with loans and debt, such as payment holidays or waiving fees for missed payments. You should check with your bank for more information.
Paying your Bills
- If you are struggling to top up a standard credit or pre-paid energy meter, contact your supplier. Many are offering support to those in financial distress. Your supply will not be cut off if you are on a credit meter.
- You can join the Priority Service Register with your energy supplier if you are a vulnerable customer. For full information on eligibility and benefits, please visit https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/consumers/household-gas-and-electricity-guide/extra-help-energy-services/priority-services-register-people-need
- You may also be able to get financial help with water bills during the pandemic. If you have immediate issues, you should contact your water company as soon as possible.
- If you are receiving benefit payments and are in financial difficulty, you can have some of your bills, including fuel and water bills, paid directly out of your benefit payments. Go to https://www.gov.uk/bills-benefits for further information.
For a more in-depth guide about paying bills and debts during the coronavirus crisis, including credit card and loan repayments, please visit https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/03/uk-coronavirus-help-and-your-rights/#energy
If you are struggling to pay the rent during this time, speak to your landlord as soon as possible to let them know of your situation and work out a repayment plan.
Current protocols for social landlords dealing with rent arrears will also now apply to private landlords. This is to help resolve disputes between landlords and tenants, avoiding eviction wherever possible.
- Renters will continue to be protected from eviction during the new national lockdown period, except in the most serious circumstances. This is in place until 21 February and is being kept under review.
- Due to the requirement to give 14 days notice of eviction, in practice evictions cannot take place until after 8 March 2021.
- Until at least 31 March 2021, landlords must provide tenants with a minimum of six months notice if they plan to begin eviction proceedings, except in serious cases.
Help with paying your rent
- The Government can support rental costs through Universal Credit. Please visit https://www.gov.uk/housing-and-universal-credit for more information.
- If you require additional support to pay your rent, you may be eligible for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). Contact your local council to find out more.
- Landlords are able to apply for a 6 month mortgage holiday if they are facing financial difficulty due to coronavirus, up until 31 March 2021. Apply with your lender to discuss eligibility and terms and conditions.
- If you are worried about paying your rent, advice is available from specialist providers including Shelter, Citizens Advice and the Money Advice Service.
Further guidance for landlords and tenants in private and social rented sectors during COVID-19 can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-and-renting-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-landlords-and-tenants#rent-and-mortgage-payments
- In England, under new lockdown rules, you must not leave home to travel abroad, unless you have a legally permitted reason to do so, such as for essential work purposes. It is illegal to travel abroad for holidays and other leisure purposes. If you are legally permitted to travel, extended information for before, during and after travelling can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus
- The latest travel advice and information for individual foreign countries can be found at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
- If you intend to travel to the UK from abroad, including UK nationals returning home, you must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result taken up to 3 days before departure. Click here for full information about testing before returning to England. Upon return to the UK you must also provide your journey and contact details.
- You must self-isolate for 10 days when you enter the UK from any foreign country except Ireland, unless you have a valid exemption. From Monday 15 February, arrivals in England will have to take a coronavirus test on days two and eight of quarantine. If you test positive, you must self-isolate for a further 10 days.
- From 15 February, when entering the UK from any of the 33 ‘red list’ countries with a travel ban to the UK, you must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days.
Please go to https://www.gov.uk/uk-border-control for full rules for entering the UK.
International travel is NOT permitted as lockdown restrictions ease, and will be subject to review under Step 3 of the roadmap, no earlier than 17 May. Please continue to check https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home#international-travel for rule changes.
- If you are abroad and it is not possible to return to the UK, follow the local guidance on social distancing and lockdown measures. Guidance on what to do if you are waiting to return to the UK can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-staying-where-you-are-if-you-cannot-return-to-the-uk
- If you have visa concerns, contact local immigration authorities or their UK based embassy. Government guidance for visa applicants is available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents
Insurance and MOT
- Check your existing health, life and income protection insurance policies to see if they are affected by coronavirus. Critical illness cover will likely not apply to coronavirus. It may only be eligible if you develop a serious illness as a consequence of Coronavirus. Check with your insurance company for their specific policies.
- New accident, sickness or unemployment cover is now more difficult to get under current circumstances. It is likely you will be asked additional COVID-19 related questions, and an exclusion may be applied to prevent any covid-19 related claims. It will vary between providers so check with individual lenders to decide which policy is best for you.
If you are struggling to pay your insurance premiums, you should speak to your provider to discuss your options. Many lenders have put measures in place to support those in financial difficulty, such as reassessing the level of cover in a policy, agreeing a repayment plan, and waiving or reducing interest.
Please visit this website for more information regarding insurance premiums. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/03/uk-coronavirus-help-and-your-rights/#insurance
- If you are driving much less due to lockdown restrictions, you can check with your insurance provider if you can change your car insurance policy to save money. This could include reducing estimated annual mileage. Insurance policies will vary, so check with your provider for specific information and terms and conditions.
- Drivers who had an MOT due from Monday 30 March 2020 until and including 31 July 2020 will have an automatic six month extension on this. If your MOT was due on 31 July 2020 it will now expire on 31 January 2021, for example. This applies to cars, motorcycles, light vans and other light vehicles.
- Full local information on Coronavirus can be found on the Newham Council website at https://www.newham.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19 This includes information for residents, updates on local service disruptions and volunteering opportunities.
- There is help available to those struggling to pay their Council Tax. Call 020 8430 2000 for more information or visit https://www.newham.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/council-tax-benefits-welfare/1
- Newham Council is providing support for vulnerable and high risk people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Full information is available at https://www.newham.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/covid-19-support-vulnerable-high-risk-people/1
Local support available across Newham includes:
General Covid-19 support such as self-isolation advice; staying safe; legal advice, and assistance accessing online shopping:
Newham Covid-19 Helpline – Call 020 7473 9711 or email email@example.com (9am-7pm, 7 days a week).
Assistance with buying or collecting food and prescriptions offline or for assistance getting to medical appointments:
NHS Volunteers Service www.nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk/services Call 0808 196 3646 (8am-8pm, 7 days a week).
Support for those with financial challenges affecting access to food, including loss of income, benefits issues or no recourse to public funds:
Newham Food Alliance www.newham.gov.uk/newhamfoodalliance
firstname.lastname@example.org or Call 07790 975086 (9am-12pm weekdays).
Befriending and support with loneliness:
Chat Newham – Call 0808 196 3510 (10am-4pm weekdays)
Questions about council services: Newham Council Contact Centre: 020 8430 2000 Textphone: 18001 020 8430 2000 (9am-5pm, weekdays).
Support for those suffering domestic or sexual violence can call Newham Hestia on 0808 196 1482. The phone line is staffed 24 hours a day to provide free and confidential advice over the phone.
If you are in immediate danger you should call 999. If you are unable to speak for fear of being heard, you can still dial 999 and once connected press ‘55’ to silently alert the police.
Voluntary Sector in the Constituency
- Listed below is information about voluntary sector organisations who can offer support during this pandemic.
SUBCO Trust Upton Park– supporting Asian and BME elders.
- Welfare telephone and video calls and an Advice Advocacy and Information Service to vulnerable adults and their carers
- Essential shopping delivery service
- Asian meals delivery service
- Visit https://www.subcotrust.uk for more information.
- Alternatively, contact email@example.com via email or call 0208 548 0070
Aston Mansfield – supporting children and families
- Breakfast club and after school provision for children of key workers. This will be at Manor Park out of the Froud Centre. Contact Loyda.best@aston-Mansfield.org.uk
- Youth services will be continued via online services and resources. Contact Yokeu.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Volunteer support and engagement continued via volunteer officer. Contact Denise.allen@aston-Mansfield.org.uk
- Social media campaign on how to keep children entertained during lockdown and promoting general positivity
- Offering a platform for organisations responding to the Coronavirus pandemic to let communities know about support services. Contact Andrea.Quaintmere@aston-Mansfield.org.uk
- Fitter Finance project providing resources and advice online to small charities, organisations and emerging charities. Support can be given via telephone or Skype on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Contact Kemar.email@example.com or Mustafa.firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter – @AMcomms
Instagram and Facebook – Aston-Mansfield
Partnership between Five East London Charities – support hubs
- Newham Charities Bonny Downs Community Association, The Magpie Project, The Renewal Programme, West Silvertown Foundation and Alternatives Trust East London have announced a partnership to help vulnerable neighbours during the Coronavirus pandemic.
- Four donation hubs have been set up in Forest Gate, East Ham, Manor Park and West Silvertown where residents can donate urgently needed items to create relief packs to distribute to vulnerable neighbours.
- The charities are asking people who are able to go shopping to buy non-perishable foods including tinned foods (such as meat, tuna, soup, rice pudding and fruit and vegetables), jars of pasta sauce and jam, dried foods (including pasta, biscuits and coffee), large-size nappies, sanitary towels, soap, bleach, Milton tablets, washing up liquid, washing powder and toothpaste.
- The hubs are:
- FOREST GATE Hub at Forest Lane Lodge, E7 9DE on Mondays and Wednesdays 10am to 2pm
- The EAST HAM Hub at The Well Community Centre, 49 Vicarage Lane, E6 6DQ on Tuesdays and Thursdays 10am to 2pm
- The MANOR PARK Hub at The Renewal Programme, 395 High Street North E12 6PG on Tuesdays 10am to 2pm and Fridays 10am to 2pm; or
- The WEST SILVERTOWN Hub at Britannia Village Hall, E16 1TU on Mondays and Thursdays 11am to 3pm.
- The charities are appealing also for financial donations to the emergency appeal for those unable to access the hubs. Donations can be made securely online at justgiving.com/campaign/NewhamCovid19 and will be split between the participating charities.
Carers FIRST – support for Carers
- Offering online support to carers. Visit www.carersFIRST.org.uk for more information
- Alternatively, email email@example.com or call 0300 303 1555
- Phone advice on debt, legal and crisis. Visit www.community-links.org/ for more information.
- Alternatively, Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 473 2270
Newham New Deal Partnership
- All help and information will be provided by telephone, post and/or email.
- Combating social isolation and loneliness for users self isolating at home. Visit www.newhamndp.org.uk for more information
- Alternatively, contact email@example.com via email or call 0208 472 0658
Facebook group Newham Covid19 to contact volunteers who can assist with shopping: