Coventry City Council weekly newsletter - COVID-19 (coronavirus)

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Thursday 2 April 2020

Coventry City Council weekly news round-up

We know that the coronavirus outbreak is concerning to everyone in Coventry.

We are working hard with our partners and the local community to coordinate the response. 

This special newsletter brings together information about what you can do to protect yourself, benefits and general advice, changes to the Council services as a result of coronavirus and information about local community groups and partners who are offering local support to people who are affected.

There are national and local links to help you get the information you need.

Remember to keep checking our website for the latest information.


Local information

How we're responding as a council

As a council we have been preparing for the last couple of months for the challenges of coronavirus, and the weeks and months ahead.

We have worked closed with the NHS, universities, schools and businesses across Coventry to prepare for significant changes ahead, especially working on how we can protect and maintain critical services to protect and support citizens.

The Council is working hard to minimise disruption to our services as a result of COVID-19 and we are working hard to keep services running but will focus our efforts on the most critical elements. In doing so disruption to many services is likely. This may be caused by staff absence or official advice from the government or the chief medical officer.

We have initiated our Pandemic Flu Emergency Plan to monitor the situation and coordinate the response across the Council and we are working closely with our NHS partners and Public Health England.

Unsung heroes

People all over the city are going above and beyond to ensure that the most vulnerable continue to get the support they need during these uncertain times. We wanted to share with you a few heartwarming examples of this, from both the Council and our partner organisations.

Broad Lane Children's Home -  Three members of Children’s Services staff have gone way beyond expectations and have been self-isolating in a children’s home.

Caring cops donate fresh fruit and veg to local care home - Neighbourhood officers in the Hillfields area of Coventry have worked with a local food wholesaler to donate a bumper crop of fruit and veg to a care home.

Call for businesses to help with vital supplies.

The Council has issued a call to all businesses in the city to see if they can help source some vital supplies. 

We need a good supply of hand sanitiser (any size, minimum 60% alchohol) and PPE including IIR/FFP2/FFP3 face masks, nitrile/latex gloves, visors/goggles and aprons. 

These items are needed urgently to help our staff who are on the front lines.

If you have any of these items that are surplus to your needs that you would be prepared to donate or sell, or you have contacts who could help us, it would be much appreciated.

Every piece of equipment will  help us to support our residents through the current crisis, and help us to save lives.

If you can help in any way, please contact

What to do if you feel unwell, or live with someone who is unwell

Stay at home if you have either:

  • A high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • A new, continuous cough – this means you've started coughing repeatedly

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home.

Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you're staying at home.

How long you need to stay at home/self isolate

  • If you have symptoms, stay at home for 7 days
  • If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms
  • If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.
  • If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.

You can find more information and advice about coronavirus on the NHS website. The page is being updated regularly and is the best place to go for the latest health information.

Self-isolation guidance and social distancing in other languages.

There's a great animation on Twitter to remind us all about the need for social distancing. 

Buildings and Venues

Our Customer Service Centre in Upper Precinct is now only supporting services for our most vulnerable people and those facing particularly challenging situations, services such as: homelessness, community care grants and children's services.

If you need to access other services please use our online facilities wherever possible.

Our website is available 24/7 and if you're signed up to My Account you can manage things like Council Tax online. There is also the option to have an online chat with an advisor or call us on 08085 834 333.


Advice for businesses

If you run a business in the city, the current COVID-19 situation is likely to be very concerning. A full range of business support measures have been made available to UK businesses and employees.

The Government has announced a series of measures to significantly increase the economic support available to businesses and workers during coronavirus. These measures include unlimited loans and guarantees to support firms and help them manage staff wages and cashflow through this period. Read more...

Keeping happy, healthy and occupied at home

Not many of us are used to spending so much time within the confines of our own home. On top of this many of you will be combining home working with looking after children and trying to keep them occupied. Here are a few things we thought might be of interest to you, or worth mentioning to people you know who may be struggling with how to manage staying at home:

  • 9am - Joe Wicks PE lessons- The Body Coach is running a free PE lesson every morning for 30 minutes for the nation's school children. Joe Wicks has also created a "Seniors" exercise routine for older adults. 
  • Oti Matabuse from Strictly Come Dancing is providing a daily dance for children at 11.30am and some adult dance classes throughout the day.
  • David Walliams Eleveneses - 11am - For the next 30 days, comedian and children's author David Walliams will be reading to the nation
  • Read more.

Supporting residents financially


Council Tax and Hardship Fund

Anyone who is finding it difficult to pay their Council Tax should contact the Council Tax Team to discuss alternative payment arrangements.

If you have been affected by coronavirus and you are concerned about making your Council Tax payments, visit our COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and Council Tax page, call 024 7683 1111, or email, putting ‘COVID-19’ in the subject box so we can give your email priority.

Please get in touch as soon as possible if you’re struggling because of the current situation.


Benefits support

Contact our Benefits team for advice and support if your income has been affected by coronavirus at, by calling 024 7683 1800, or visiting our Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support page.


Support grants or crisis awards

Find out if you can access a Community Support grant or a Crisis Award. Alternatively, email or call 024 7683 3773.


Coventry Independent Advice Service

Coventry Independent Advice Service continues to provide free benefits and debt advice to Coventry residents throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. For details of how to make contact, visit their website.

Community support and facilities

We are leading work to co-ordinate and develop work that is happening around the city in the community to help neighbourhoods during the current coronavirus outbreak.

You will have no doubt seen the offers of help that have been pouring in on social media with concerns for the vulnerable and elderly, who are at a greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

Read more and see a map of resources.

More local news.

National Information 

Information if you are an employee


Sick pay

You can get £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you're too ill to work. It's paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks. If you are staying at home because of COVID-19 you can now claim SSP. This includes individuals that are caring for people in the same household and therefore have been advised to do a household quarantine.


Statutory sick pay

The Government is legislating for SSP to be paid from day 1, rather than day 4, of your absence from work if your are absent from work due to sickness or need to stay at home due to COVID-19. Once the legislation has been passed this will apply retrospectively from 13 March.


COVID-19 Sick note

If you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can get an ‘isolation note’ by visiting NHS 111 online, rather than visiting a doctor. For COVID-19 cases this replaces the usual need to provide a ‘fit note’ (sometimes called a ‘sick note’) after 7 days of sickness absence.


Furloughed workers

If your employer intends to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, they will discuss with you becoming classified as a furloughed worker. This would mean that you are kept on your employer’s payroll, rather than being laid off. This will allow your employer to claim a grant of up to 80% of your wage for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. You will remain employed while furloughed. Your employer could choose to fund the differences between this payment and your salary, but does not have to. The Government plans for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to run for at least three months from 1 March 2020, but will extend if necessary.


Universal Credit

Whether you are currently in or out of work, if you are on a low income and affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19, you will be able to access the full range of the welfare system, including Universal Credit. From 6 April the Government will increase the standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit for one year. Both will increase by £20 per week on top of planned annual up-rating. This will apply to all new and existing Universal Credit claimants and to existing Working Tax Credit claimants.

Information if you are self-employed


Lay-Offs and Short-Term working

Your employer can ask you to stay at home or take unpaid leave if there’s not enough work for you. A lay-off is if you’re off work for at least 1 working day. Short-time working is when your hours are cut. There’s no limit for how long you can be laid off or put on short-time. You could apply for redundancy and claim redundancy pay if it’s been four weeks in a row or six weeks in a 13-week period. For lay-off pay entitlement and short-time working payments, you should get your full pay unless your contract allows unpaid or reduced pay lay-offs. If you’re unpaid, you’re entitled to guarantee pay.


Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

This scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed. You can apply if you’re a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and you:

  • have submitted your Income Tax Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19
  • traded in the tax year 2019-20
  • are trading when you apply, or would be except for COVID-19
  • intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-21
  • have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19

Your self-employed trading profits must also be less than £50,000 and more than half of your income come from self-employment


Income tax payment deferral 

If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system can be deferred to January 2021.


Support for businesses paying tax: time to pay service

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.


Statutory sick pay

If you are not eligible for SSP – for example if you are self-employed – and you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or the new style Employment and Support Allowance. If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home.


Support for rent costs

You should check your eligibility for Universal Credit, which is available for people in and out of work. Support for rental costs will be paid through Universal Credit. From April, the Government are increasing Local Housing Allowance rates to the 30th percentile of market rents. This applies to all private renters who are new or existing Universal Credit housing element claimants and to existing Housing Benefit claimants.

Benefits and financial support


Employment and support allowance 

You can apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you have a disability or health condition that affects how much you can work. It gives you money to help with living costs if you’re unable to work and support to get back into work if you’re able to. You can apply for ESA if you’re employed, self-employed or unemployed.


Housing rental payments

Contact your landlord if you’re struggling to pay rent; they may be able to give a rent reduction or accept late payment. Make sure you get something in writing. The Government announced on 18 March that landlords will not be able to apply to court to evict tenants for at least three months. That includes if you rent from a private landlord, a housing association or the council. The new law is expected to come in very soon.


Mortgage payments

Mortgage lenders have announced they won't apply to court to repossess homeowners for 3 months starting from 19 March. They will also allow a three-month payment holiday for those struggling to cover their mortgage because of coronavirus. Be aware that this option may mean your monthly mortgage payment goes up after the payment holiday ends. Check if you have insurance that will cover your mortgage payments instead. For example, mortgage payment protection insurance or through your current account.


Free advice

You can receive free and impartial advice on a range of matters from organisations including:

  • Consumer rights: Free consumer protection advice from the Government on issues including contracts, goods and services
  • Employee rights: Free advice on worker’s rights from the Government
  • Money Advice Service: Free and impartial money advice from an organisation set up by the Government
  • Citizens Advice Service: Free advice on a range of topics including debt, money and finances; law and court and consumer rights
  • Shelter: Free advice on issues such as housing, homelessness, eviction, repairs and repossession 


Follow us on social media for the latest COVID-19 updates