COVID-19 (coronavirus) and your finances
Financial advice and guidance for members affected by COVID-19
If you're off sick due to COVID-19 and/or have to self isolate in line with government guidelines, check your contract to see if you are entitled to contractual sick pay.
For more information on sick pay and self isolation pay due to COVID-19, see the COVID-19 and time off FAQs.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
If you are not entitled to contractual sick pay, you should be able to get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) as long as you earn an average of at least £120 per week. You can check your eligibility for SSP on the gov.uk website.
If eligible, you will receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from the first day that you cannot attend work.
If Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is your only income, depending on your circumstances you may also be entitled to claim Universal Credit for a top-up benefit or to help pay rent.
For more information, see the Employment and benefits support section on the government's Understanding Universal Credit website.
For an overview of all benefits you might be entitled to, visit the Entitled to website where you can do a full online benefits calculation.
Once you have got a clear understanding of what you might be entitled to, you may need to take additional measures to manage a reduced income. There may also be delays in processing new claims for benefits.
Support from the RCN Welfare team
See the RCN's welfare service page for more information about how we can help.
The Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme is for people on low incomes who have to self-isolate because they have tested positive for COVID-19 or been notified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
For more information, see the government's advice on Claiming financial support under the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme
If you are a student nurse, see our COVID-19 advice for students FAQs, which includes information on:
- student funding and maintenance grants
- advice on how paid clinical placements might affect any welfare benefits, tax credits or entitlements.
Because most in-work benefits are means tested, your entitlement is likely to be affected if you do extra hours. The change can depend on the number of hours you do, the amount you receive and the type of benefit you are claiming.
If your annual income increases by less than £2,500 compared to the last tax year this is ignored and does not affect the amount of tax credits you are paid for this tax year. However, this rule does not apply if your tax credits are based on your income in the current tax year.
However, you should tell HMRC if your income increases by more than £2,500 compared to the previous tax year so that they can recalculate your entitlement.
For more details see gov.uk: Working Tax Credits
Because your entitlement is calculated monthly on your HMRC records, your entitlement will be calculated based on your monthly income.
Your Universal Credit payment will reduce gradually as you earn more - for every £1 you earn your payment reduces by 63p. There's no limit to how many hours you can work.
Use a benefits calculator to see how increasing your hours will affect your entitlement
Your entitlement to housing benefit will be based on your anticipated weekly income. You will therefore need to let your Housing Benefit department know if your income increases, supplying payslips as soon as they are available so that they can recalculate your entitlement.
For advice, support and information about eviction in your country please see:
- England (Shelter England)
- Scotland (Shelter Scotland)
- Wales (Shelter Cymru)
- NIdirect.gov.uk: Protection against eviction
If you need further advice and support, you may want to contact the Welfare Service.
Struggling with your rent
If your pay has dropped, you might be eligible for assistance with your rent through Universal Credit. For more details, see the Housing section on the Understanding Universal Credit website.
If you are a local authority tenant, speak to the housing department as soon as possible.
If you are a private tenant, speak to your landlord and explain the situation and can ask for more time to pay or ask to catch up any missed payments by instalments. It is a good idea to pay what you can afford and keep a record of what you offered. If you can’t reach an agreement, you can seek advice from the RCN Welfare Service.
Scheme to help tenants affected by coronavirus in Wales and Scotland
The Welsh Government Tenancy Saver Loan scheme may be able to help tenants in Wales who are struggling with rent arrears due to coronavirus
In Scotland, The Tenant Hardship Loan Fund offers loans to tenants who are struggling with rent during coronavirus. See Shelter Scotland for more information.
Struggling with your mortgage
If you are struggling with your mortgage payments, see Shelter's advice on dealing with mortgage arrears.
RCN Lamplight Support Service (funded by the RCN Foundation)
The RCN's Lamplight Support Service provides:
- advice on benefit entitlements
- advice on maximising income during a period of reduced income
- signposting to relevant debt advice services.
Details about how to access the service can be found on the main Lamplight Support Service page.
Members of the nursing community (past and present) who are not currently working on the frontline can apply for support through the RCN Foundation hardship fund. Details about eligibility can be found in the guide to financial assistance.
Cavell Nurses' Trust
The Cavell Nurses Trust is another charity specifically for Nurses and Healthcare Support Workers. They offer financial support for short term financial emergencies, for example:
- Nurses, midwives or HCAs facing financial hardship due to: needing to self isolate, being unable to access occupational sick pay or benefits, losing access to overtime, bank shifts, agency shifts or other enhancements, or those who are self employed.
- Nurses, midwives or HCAs facing financial hardship because their household or partner’s income has been affected due to Coronavirus, e.g. because their partner is self-employed or works in an industry adversely affected by Coronavirus.
For further information and details on how to apply, see their page Apply for a grant.
If you wish to explore other sources of charitable grants, Turn2us has a comprehensive database that you can search.
Fuel and prepayment meters updates
The government agreed measures with energy companies to ensure that vulnerable customers who may fall into debt will still be supplied with energy whilst in self isolation. For more details, see the government's press release Government agrees measures with energy industry to support vulnerable people through COVID-19
Contact your energy provider directly for advice.
Childcare costs whilst you're working
You may find that you have additional childcare costs whilst working during the COVID-19 emergency.
If this is the case, and you are already claiming Universal Credit or Child Tax Credit, these additional costs can be included as part of your claim up to the maximum limits depending on your personal circumstances.
If you are not already claiming the childcare element of Universal Credit or Working Tax Credits, you can request this element as part of an on-going claim.
If you have not previously claimed Universal Credit, your additional childcare costs may mean that you now qualify. To see if you qualify please read the Turn 2 Us guide.
If your income is too high to qualify for either of these means tested benefits you can check if you qualify for the Tax-Free Childcare scheme. Tax Free Childcare means the government will pay £2 for every £8 you spend on childcare, up to a maximum of £2,000 per year per child (or £4,000 for a child with a disability).
For more information about help with childcare costs you can visit the Turn 2 Us guide.
For information about school and childcare provision for key workers please see the government website or your local authority’s website.
If you are still struggling with childcare costs then please see the information on charities listed above.
Finally, remember that you do not need to go through this alone.The RCN Welfare can assist you with advice on specialist benefits advice.
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