Coronavirus – what should I claim?

Have you been made redundant or laid off?

  • You may be entitled to the new benefit Universal Credit.  This will cover your living costs and your rent.
  • How much you will get depends on your circumstances, i.e. whether you have children, your partners income, or any other income and savings you have.
  • Make a claim online at: or phone 0800 328 5644.
  • You normally need to attend an appointment at the jobcentre to provide proof of ID and proof of rent and any income or savings.
  • Claiming as a jobseeker usually means looking for work and signing on, but follow the advice provided by the DWP/your work coach as Government advice about social distancing may change in the future.


  • If you have worked without too many gaps for the last 2 or 3 years, you are likely to have enough NI contributions to qualify for contributions-based (new Style) Jobseeker’s Allowance.  You can make a claim for this by phone: 0800 055 6688.  You may also qualify for a top-up of Universal Credit, for example for your rent (unless you already claim housing benefit).

Are you self-isolating or ill due to COVID-19 (or caring for someone who is?)

Case1:if you are employed

  • Claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from your employer.  You will be paid from Day1.  Your employer may also provide additional contractual sick pay.
  • Phone NHS 111 for a fit note (instead of your GP) to give to your employer.
  • Once SSP comes to an end after 28 weeks (not before), see Case2

Case2: If you have been laid off

  • If you have enough NI contributions, you may be able to claim contributions, you may be able to claim contributory (new style) Employment Support Allowance (ESA).  You can make a claim by phoning 0800 055 6688.
  • If you don’t have enough NI contributions or if you also have rent costs, claim Universal Credit.  Apply online or phone 0800 328 5644.

You won’t have to attend any appointments at the JobCentre to start your claim, and won’t have to attend any medicals to prove you are unfit for work if you are affected by the coronavirus.

Are you waiting for a medical for ESA/PIP?

All face to face assessments for sickness and disability benefits have been suspended for 3 months with effect from 17 March 2020.

You will be notified by the DWP about any alternative arrangements which may involve either telephone or paper based assessments.

If you claimed ESA because you are affected by the coronavirus because you have symptoms or are self isolating (or need to care someone who is), you wont have to attend any medical to prove you are unfit for work.

You can get a fit note from NHS 111.

Are you Self-Employed?

  • Claim Universal Credit.  Make a claim online at: or phone 0800 328 5644.
  • If you claim Universal Credit and you are directly affected by coronavirus or self-isolating, the Minimum Income Floor won’t apply to you for the duration of the outbreak.  This means your actual self-employment earnings will be taken into account each month.