Frequently asked questions. Here you will find advice and information related to the Government’s response to coronavirus.
As lockdown restrictions are being eased, do I have to go back to work? The Government has started easing lockdown restrictions, with the Prime Minister encouraging those who are unable to work from home to return to work. People should only return to work if it's safe to do so and strict social distancing measures are implemented. The Government has published guidance on this here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19 If you are in the 'at-risk group' who has been advised not to leave your home for 12 weeks from 23rd March, or someone who is considered to be extremely vulnerable to Covid-19, you are not expected to return to work. If you can work from home you should continue to do so and you should not go back to on-site working at this stage. If you are being asked to return to on-site working or if you feel social distancing is not being adhered to at your workplace, this should be raised directly with your employer in the first instance. If the dispute cannot be resolved for whatever reason, then I recommend you contact Citizens Advice or your relevant trade union to obtain further information on your rights on the situation.
The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will provide self-employed workers 80% of their ‘average monthly profits’ over the past three years up to £2,500. The scheme will be available to self-employed people with average profits of £50,000 or less. The scheme will run for an initial three months before being reviewed.
To access the scheme, you must have been self-employed with a taxable income in 2019. Anyone who missed the filing deadline in January is given four weeks to submit their tax return. Newly self-employed people are not covered by the scheme.
The Government plans for the scheme to be up and running by June. Those eligible will receive a lump sum covering the previous 3 months.
Currently the Government is not taking applications for the scheme, HMRC will contact those eligible and invite them to apply in due course.
While the scheme is welcomed, I have concerns regarding the ineligibility of many recently self-employed workers and concerns over the delay in allocating payment to those who are eligible. I have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to raise these concerns directly. If you are a sole trader, freelancer, body corporate, limited partnership, limited liability partnership or any other legal entity carrying out a business activity in the UK, with a turnover of less than £45m, you may be eligible for Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. You can find out more information about that here. The Government's Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has now opened for applications. To make a claim, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-self-employment-income-support-scheme
Salaried workers advice: If you are employed directly by your employer and on the PAYE tax scheme, you may be eligible for support. Employers affected by the Government’s social distancing measures can apply for the COVID Job Retention Scheme. As part of the scheme:
The Government will pay 80% of retained workers wages who are unable to work due to lockdown measures up to £2,500 per month. Employers can chose to top-up the remaining 20%.
The scheme will cover 3 months from March 1st initially, however this will be under review by the Government.
The scheme is not expected to be up and running until the end of April, however payments will be backdated.
Applications are accepted from employers rather than employees. If you think the organisation you work for may be eligible, please contact your employer directly in the first instance. More details on eligibility can be found here:https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme The Chancellor has announced that the Government's furlough scheme will be extended until October. He has confirmed that workers who are furloughed will continue to be paid at least 80% of their monthly wages up to £2,500.
NHS advice: Please stay at home to stop the spread of the virus. If you need medical help for any reason, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. If you have symptoms of coronavirus, use the 111 coronavirus service. If you need help or advice not related to coronavirus:
for health information and advice, use the NHS website or your GP surgery website
for urgent medical help, use the NHS 111 online service – only call 111 if you're unable to get help online
for life-threatening emergencies, call 999 for an ambulance
No commercial tenants can be legally evicted in the next 3 months.
The schemes are welcomed, however they are not robust enough and some businesses are still unable to access support. I have written to the Secretary of State for Business to raise concerns regarding accessibility for SMEs with unique circumstances, such as market traders, and requested all businesses are covered in a further package of support. For up to date advice on the latest support being offered to businesses and to determine what you are eligible for, please use the Government's 'support finder' tool: https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder
Business Grants Fund Scheme Top-Up: On 2 May the Government announced plans for a discretionary fund which would accommodate certain small businesses previously missed in the business grant funds scheme. Up to £617 million will be made available, with distribution aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed-property costs. The Government has asked that priority is given to businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders and small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief. However, local authorities may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need. Allocation of these funds will be at the discretion of Wandsworth Council. Further guidance and information is expected in due course.
Vulnerable People: If you, or a family member, is in receipt of care from Wandsworth Council and have concerns about a change of circumstance of what coronavirus means for you, please contact the Wandsworth Council Covid-19 hotline: https://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/health-and-social-care/public-health/coronavirus/community-hub/ If you are self-isolating because of your age or a pre-existing health condition, or you are worried about someone who is, and you are not in need of emergency assistance, but would like help with picking up prescriptions and groceries, walking your dad or even just having a chat, please contact our Tooting Together helpline: 0808 168 5339
26th March 2020: The Chancellor has announced the Government’s support package for self-employed workers. The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will provide self-employed workers 80% of their ‘average monthly profits’ over the past three years up to £2,500. The scheme will be available to self-employed people with average profits of £50,000 or less. The scheme will run for an initial three months before being reviewed. To access the scheme, you must have been self-employed with a taxable income in 2019. Anyone who missed the filing deadline in January is given four weeks to submit their tax return. Newly self-employed people are not covered by the scheme. I am concerned that this will leave newly self-employed people out of pocket and I will be asking the Government to take action. The Government hope the scheme will be up and running by the beginning of June. They have confirmed that payments will be backdated. This is a very long time to wait if you are self-employed and live month-to-month, as most people do. This has to be changed, something must be done in the meantime to help self-employed people. I'll be writing to the Chancellor to outline my concerns, if you are self-employed and want your example to be included in my evidence pack, please email me at email@example.com
23rd March 2020: Latest official update from Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP: The Prime Minister has formally announced new rules forcing people to stay at home. People can only leave their home in the following circumstances: - Shopping for basic necessities. - One form of exercise once per day( alone or with members of your household). - Any medical need, or to assist a vulnerable person. - Travelling to and from work, only when ‘absolutely necessary and they cannot work from home’. Details here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus If you don’t follow the rules, police have power to enforce them with fines. The lockdown will be in place for an initial three weeks and then the situation will be reviewed. The Government will close all non-essential shops from tonight. Shops not selling medical supplies, food or any other essential good will be closed. The police will disperse any social gatherings of more than two people. All social events have been cancelled including all religious ceremonies, except funerals. Parks will remain open for exercise, but gatherings will be dispersed and anyone gathering could be liable to a fine. It’s essential we all follow these new rules to halt the spread of COVID -19 and to protect our loved ones. I welcome the move, but it will be difficult for the police to manage, so I think the Government should look to go further if these rules are flouted. I want proper protections for those workers whose employers demand they still travel for work - this affects many on zero hour contracts or the self-employed. On a separate note, the Foreign Office are now advising British people travelling abroad to return to the UK now, if commercial flights are still available: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus
20th March 2020: Today’s update on the coronavirus crisis. Please make sure you stay safe. I plead again, please be very careful about forwarding or sharing fake news and misinformation. These spread like wildfire on WhatsApp and Facebook and cause panic and pain – please check the original source.
👥 Local volunteering: - I’ve worked to set up a local phoneline for local people-in-need to call – it needs to be staffed by volunteers, please sign-up here: http://covidcall.org/ - 1,300 people have volunteered to be a helping hand on their street – we have multiple people per street in most cases. - Volunteers are posting slips through doors today and tomorrow. Thank you to everyone who has offered to help! - If you have a WhatsApp group for your street, it would be helpful to share it with the local coronavirus response team so we can invite others on your street to join. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you do have a local WhatsApp group.
👩🔧 Jobs: - The Government is to pay 80% of wages for employees unable to work due to the coronavirus pandemic, up to £2,500 a month: http://tiny.cc/1rdnlz - The rate of Universal Credit has been increased by £20 per week and self-employed people are able to claim this now. I am still not satisfied the Government are doing anywhere near enough for self-employed people and I will be pushing further.
🏢 Businesses: - Government loans for businesses will be available from Monday: http://tiny.cc/y7dnlz - VAT payments for businesses are deferred from now to mid June.
📚 Schools: - Pupils whose exams were cancelled due to the coronavirus epidemic will be given grades estimated by their teachers: http://tiny.cc/zvdnlz
🚆 Travel: - South Western Railway and Southern running reduced service from Monday. - Tooting Bec Stn will be closed (from Monday) and there will be no night tube service (from now). - The Congestion Charge has been stopped from Monday, Sadiq Khan has announced. Remember: Avoid all but essential travel. Those that have to travel, check service timetables beforehand: http://tiny.cc/ypdnlz
🍞 Shopping: - Please shop sensibly. There is no need to stockpile. We must be considerate to ensure shelves remain stocked and everyone can get what they need. - Think about shopping local as well, many local traders rely on our business during these challenging times and they have lots of stock. - All pubs, cafes, bars, restaurants, nightclubs, cinemas, theatres, leisure centres and gyms are to close as of tonight. Take away services will be available.
🏠 Housing: - Wandle Housing Association have provided updates on COVID-19: www.wandle.com - Renters remember: Evictions are not allowed during this crisis, be firm with landlords.
🛫 Foreign Office: - I’m continuing to monitor the situation with British nationals abroad and would encourage everyone to look at Foreign Office website: http://tiny.cc/leenlz
19th March 2020: Here are the latest official updates on the coronavirus outbreak. This is available on Facebook too: facebook.com/groups/SW17Coronavirus/permalink/489269375287294/ ⚠Note: This number is broadcast only, replies are not read. ⛔ Please take note: - There are no current plans for a lockdown in London, the military will not be patrolling on our streets, but they may be brought in to help with other tasks. Please do not share fake news on social media and call out others who do. - Avoid panic buying, there will be enough food in our supermarkets for everybody if we bought enough for our normal shop. Please, please observe this. 🏠Housing issues: - Homeowners affected by COVID -19 will be eligible to apply for a three-month 'holiday' in their mortgage payments. - New laws to protect renters from eviction: http://tiny.cc/z93klz - I am pushing for more powers for renters. Renters should have a rent holiday if needed. 👩🔧Support for workers: These are unprecedented times, the only way we get through this is to give everyone the funds to secure themselves. I am pushing the Government to introduce a Universal Basic Income. 🏢Support for businesses: The loans and grants system seems to be taking too long, businesses are taking decisions now. The Chancellor will be putting forward new measures tomorrow which we are told should help this. Local businesses can email me if they are suffering immediate problems. See Govt guidelines for their new measures here: http://tiny.cc/el4klz 👩⚕ *Official NHS guidance: * - Symptoms, dos and don’ts, and up to date advice: http://tiny.cc/k33klz - Guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK and protecting older people and vulnerable adults: http://tiny.cc/ei3klz 📚School closures: - Schools will close on Friday afternoon - there will be some exceptions for children of key workers and for vulnerable children. For more detail: http://tiny.cc/rw3klz and for more detail of services in Wandsworth: http://tiny.cc/l53klz - The Government will give schools ‘flexibility’ to give children eligible for free school meals, meals on-site or ‘supermarket and shop vouchers’. Meals in some schools will still be available depending on staffing arrangements. More info here: http://tiny.cc/ex4klz 🏊♀ Leisure Centres and Libraries to close: Wandsworth Leisure Centres will close today (Thursday), and libraries from the end of tomorrow (Friday): http://tiny.cc/7y2klz 📜Coronavirus Law: The Government has published its Coronavirus Bill, detailing emergency laws. I think this is necessary during this time but will monitor its use to ensure powers aren’t being abused for other purposes: http://tiny.cc/pu3klz 🛫International travel: - FCO (Foreign Office) are advising against all but essential travel as any country may restrict travel without notice. - The FCO are working with the Peruvian authorities to help those stuck in Peru but concern has been raised over the extremely high flight prices proposed by airline Avianca. 👥Local volunteering: - Over 1,000 local people volunteered to help neighbours on their streets, and slips have been printed and are being distributed by coordinators. The response was unprecedented, thank you! We have multiple volunteers per street so don’t panic if you’re not the one posting the slips through doors this time. Join the Facebook group here: www.facebook.com/groups/SW17Coronavirus/