Coronavirus: essential support directory

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Many of the services in this directory will not be offering face to face support but are still providing help by phone, email or online. As the ongoing impact of the coronavirus emergency means these services may change, this directory provides links to websites where possible so you can get the most up to date information about what is available.

We are keeping this directory under constant review. If there are essential services you would like to see included please email [email protected] with ESSENTIAL in the subject line.


Advice centres

Help with issues like claiming benefits, money advice, housing and employment:


Benefits

The government has made a number of changes to the benefit and tax credit system as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. These may mean that your benefits are increasing or that you are now entitled to benefits you could not claim before.

If you were already claiming benefits your claim will be automatically adjusted to reflect any changes. If you would like to check whether you can now claim benefits you can do this through an advice centre, the Citizens Advice website or the Turn2Us online benefit calculator. Turn2Us includes a checklist of the information you will need to complete your calculation:


Council tax support

If your income has gone down because of coronavirus we may be able to give you support to pay your council tax. For help and to apply online:


Council tenants

If you are a council tenant struggling to pay your rent you can ask for a call back from our incomes team. If you are claiming housing benefit or Universal Credit our welfare reform team may be able to provide temporary financial support to help pay your rent - you can call them on 01865 252755. Our tenancy sustainment team may be able to help in a crisis or link you in with specialist support that will help prevent you from becoming homeless:

Council tenants can also get advice on paying and reducing energy bills from our energy advice team:


Domestic abuse services

We are working in a multi-agency group with local domestic abuse services to ensure there is support for those experiencing domestic abuse. Support and safety planning is available by phone, email or Skype. Help includes:


Energy saving and help with energy costs

Better Housing Better Health is a one stop shop if you would like some advice on lowering your energy bills, accessing financial assistance or switching your provider or tariff. Different energy saving offers may be available for homeowners and tenants:

Council tenants can also get advice on paying and reducing energy bills from our energy advice team:

Advice and support is available for people struggling to top up gas and electricity prepayment meters due to coronavirus:


Finding work

If you need to claim Universal Credit your work coach will discuss the support they are able to give to help you find work. Our welfare reform team offers a range of support that includes helping you into or back into work, and Aspire Oxford and Crisis Skylight Oxford may also be able to help if you are homeless or living in supported accommodation:


Food

If you need help with food or essential supplies, call us on 01865 249811 or fill in our web form (link below). Even though schools are closed, you can still get support with food at home if your child normally receives free school meals. Schools are delivering daily meals and food parcels or providing a weekly £15 voucher for you to buy food at supermarkets. You can check if your child is eligible for free school meals on the GOV.UK website and should contact their school directly to find out how they are providing help:


Housing advice and support

The government has announced a temporary ban on evictions during the coronavirus outbreak but this does not cover everyone who is renting. If you are a private tenant you can contact our tenancy relations officer and Shelter provides housing advice online and by phone:

Connection Support's housing support service can help you avoid eviction and provides support with issues linked to housing like domestic abuse, benefits and finding work. The service can also help if you are moving into independent accommodation. You can call Connection Support on 01865  711267 or complete the Housing Support Oxon referral form on their website:


Housing costs - homeowners

If you are struggling to pay your mortgage because of coronavirus you may be eligible for a three month payment holiday. You should contact your lender for further details.


Housing costs - renting

If your income has gone down because of coronavirus you may be able to get help with paying your rent as part of your Universal Credit claim or by claiming housing benefit from us. To find out more:

The amount of help you could get depends on your circumstances. If you are renting privately, the government has raised the limit you could get from April 2020, as shown in the table.

Local housing allowance rates

Type of accommodation

Maximum benefit - weekly

Maximum benefit - monthly

Shared accommodation

£118.87

£516.52

One bedroom

£178.36

£775.02

Two bedrooms

£210

£912.50

Three bedrooms

£235.15

£1,100

Four or more bedrooms

£364.77

£1,585.01

If you are already claiming housing benefit or Universal Credit your claim will be automatically adjusted to reflect the new higher limits.

If your housing benefit or Universal Credit housing payment does not cover your full rent we may be able to give you temporary financial support:


Mental health

The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Mental Health helpline is available around the clock if you need advice about your mental health. If you are already using mental health services, please call the services in your care plan during office hours. If you are not using a mental health service you should speak to your GP in the first instance. There is information and advice on the Oxford Mental Health Partnership website that includes details on how you can refer yourself to services and support to help you cope with coronavirus:


Money and debt advice

Information and practical help with money management and debt issues:


Money – tips on savings, best deals and other money management help


Older people and carers

Age UK Oxfordshire provides support for older people and this now includes a new telephone helpline with Action for Carers Oxfordshire:


Prescription costs

Most people aged between 18 and 60 must pay for their prescriptions although you may be able to get a free prescription depending on your medical conditions or your personal circumstances:


Scams

To find out more about scams related to coronavirus, see Oxfordshire County Council’s press release. For help:


Sick pay

If you cannot work because of coronavirus you may now be eligible for statutory sick pay from day one of your illness, even if you are a gig worker or have a zero hours contract:


Universal Credit

Universal Credit is the main benefit for working age people that combines a number of previous benefits and tax credits into one monthly payment – including help with housing costs. You can claim Universal Credit if you were employed or self-employed and your income has reduced or your job has ended. You will have to claim Universal Credit online. If you need help to do this, contact Citizens Advice’s Help to Claim service:


Utilities

Council tenants can also get advice on paying and reducing energy bills from our energy advice team:


External links

We provide links to external websites. Listing of sites and links to them should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. We do not accept responsibility for the contents or reliability of linked websites nor do we accept any liability for their accuracy or content. If you come across any external links that do not work, please report them using the 'rate this page' option at the bottom of this page.

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