- A Worker’s Guide to Coronavirus
- Womens’ Aid
- Scottish Welfare Fund
- COVID-19 Benefit Changes
- Universal Credit
- Better Than Zero ‘Reinstatement’
- Reel News Campaign ‘Shut the Sites’
- Job Retention Scheme
- Agency Workers ‘layoffs & furlough payments’
- Agency Workers’ & Furlough
- IWW Government Furlough Scheme
- Scottish National Helpline
- Mutual Aid Trans Edinburgh
- Disabled People/Social Care
- For Those in England & Wales
- Young People
- Government/Council Support with Food
- Community Support in Edinburgh (Food etc.)
- COVID-19 Support & Solidarity Flyer
- Fuel & Energy Bills
New Worker’s Guide to Coronavirus Released
The initiative by Liverpool SolFed offers stripped-down must-knows about getting by amid State incompetence and bosses’ greed, from furloughs to care rights, sick pay to self-employment. The group will be regularly updating the guide here and welcome people getting involved in the project. Check out the guide now.
Domestic Abuse helpline 0800 027 1234 Open 24/7.
Scottish Welfare Fund
“£45 million will be added to the existing Scottish Welfare Fund which makes Community Grants and Crisis Grants available to those in immediate need. This more than doubles the current £35.5 million fund, which is administered by local authorities. They will be given more flexibility in how it is used to ensure they can fully support people in financial crisis, including workers in the ‘gig economy’.”
The guideline that Crisis Grants would normally be limited to three per claimant per year has been scrapped (info from Child Poverty Action Group).
You apply through your local council. As well as grants the Scottish Welfare Fund can do foodbank referrals. In Edinburgh ring 0131 529 5299 or go to CEC council page here (please note as of 31/3/20 the page had not been updated to reflect scrapping of 3 times per year guideline)
Claim to the Scottish Welfare Fund
Claimants in Scotland needing immediate support should apply to the Scottish Welfare Fund via their local Council. The Scottish Government has more than doubled the funds for the SWF and widened the eligibility to support people hit by coronavirus lay-offs. Edinburgh Council state “If you are no longer able to work or have had hours reduced, and do not have any savings or other sources of income, we may be able to help.”
So councils SHOULD be making more payments. In Edinburgh apply to the SWF by ringing 0131 529 5299 or online. You can apply for a Crisis grant or a Community care grant plus get a foodbank referral. If knocked back contact ECAP firstname.lastname@example.org for support and solidarity. And hassle your local councillors.
COVID-19 Benefit Changes
Government information https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/employment-and-benefits-support/. Benefits and Coronavirus: overview from CPAG.
Workers sacked due to coronavirus denied benefits by Universal Credit chaos – Fight Back!
Newly sacked workers are experiencing a kick in the face as they try to claim benefits through the chaotic Universal Credit system. New claimants told the TV news on 25 March they were on the phone for hours without getting any reply.
Universal Credit’s “online by default” system has broken down. Even the government admit on their Coronavirus and Claiming Benefits page “Universal Credit users are experiencing extended waiting times for gov.uk Verify“, but claimants reported that in reality the online ID verification system just does not work. Many then believed they were unable to make a claim. In fact the excellent Frank Zola blog has revealed that you can still claim Universal Credit without needing to use GOV.UK Verify to confirm your identity/address history.
Universal Credit & Verify
You do NOT need to use Verify – DWP has alternatives to confirm claimant ID. When making a new UC claim there is no entitlement condition to use GOV.UK Verify to confirm your identity/address history. When making a new claim instead of using Verify you can select the option “I cannot do this online“. You can then add a note to your UC Journal asking to get a telephone call-back to undertake your first new claim appointment, as many claimants are finding it almost impossible to make appointments over the phone. This information has been supplied by Frank Zola via his very useful blog.
Tens of thousands desperately needing support are being left with nothing.
As groups like ECAP have long argued the Universal Credit system is deliberately designed to deter claims. In “normal” times it can take hours to get a phone response. The 5 – 6 week for payment is inhuman. Sanctions are a constant threat. We need to organise; a starting point being to insist the £20 per week increase in Universal Credit be made permanent, but then to aim to stop and scrap Universal Credit.
Act Now To Win Reinstatement
Of course while a payment from the Scottish Welfare Fund is an immediate help, in the longer run it is totally inadequate, we need to fight for much more. As Better than Zero say: “ACT NOW – All workers who’ve been fired should get in touch with ex-colleagues and together contact ex-bosses to urgently demand reinstatement and 80% of salary that the government has said you are due.”
Check out the poster on the left from Better than Zero. Advice for people who have been sacked/had their contract changed.
Save Lives – Shut Down Non-Essential Work
To save lives we need to organise to force non-essential work to shut down. Reel News say:
“Workers in Britain have already been successfully taking or threatening action over coronavirus, from stopping dismissals, through demanding improved hygiene and protective equipment, to winning full sick pay so that workers can afford to self-isolate. In some countries workers have already gone further – striking to force irresponsible employers to shut down non-essential workplaces. More collective action will be needed as government and many employers fail to adequately protect us all.”
#ShutTheSites Reel News National Campaign
During the Covid-19 lockdown, hundreds of thousands of construction workers are being forced to go to work, putting themselves, their families, their communities and millions of key workers at risk.
ALL non-critical sites need to be shut NOW and EVERY worker needs to be paid. Join the campaign
Job Retention scheme
Agency Workers & Coronavirus Lay-Offs
“Only ‘qualifying employees’ are entitled to SSP. Social security legislation uses a slightly broader definition of ‘employee’ which includes those who pay Class 1 National Insurance Contributions. Agency workers are also deemed to be employees.”
Agency Workers & Furlough Payments
“If you’ve been employed (or engaged by an employment business in the case of agency workers) for a full year, employers will claim for the higher of either:
– the amount you earned in the same month last year
– an average of your monthly earnings from the last year
If you’ve been employed for less than a year, employers will claim for an average of your monthly earnings since you started work. The same arrangements apply if your monthly pay varies such as if you are on a zero-hour contract.”
Agency Worker’s & Furlough
From Better Than Zero Scotland, here’s how to navigate the treacherous route to furloughing. Although agency workers can technically be furloughed, they are having to battle to find out who to contact to request it – the employer or the agency.
Claiming the Government Furlough Scheme
Scottish National Helpline for highest risk group
In Scotland, a new national helpline is available for those who don’t have a network of support but who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19. The helpline is 0800 111 4000 – and will initially operate 9 am to 5 pm.
Mutual Aid Trans Edinburgh (MATE)
MATE was set up during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide direct support by and for trans and queer people in Edinburgh. We are focused on trans- and queer-specific support needs, and also to support people who are isolated from their local communities. Check out the website here.
Disabled People and Social Care
In times of crisis the rights of disabled people are the first to be slashed, despite us being amongst the categories most in need of particular support in the coronavirus pandemic.
The UK government’s emergency Coronavirus Act, according to Disability Rights UK, amounts to a suspension of the Care Act 2014 and of parts of the Mental Health Act. It undermines the rights of disabled people to social care by removing the duty local authorities have to provide it. It also relieves councils of the duty to fulfil the social, health and social care needs listed in individual disabled pupils’ education health and care (EHC) plan. The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill contains similar measures.
The effects of this legislation are already apparent. Inclusion Scotland have reported they have already heard of care packages being withdrawn by local councils (Inclusion Scotland newsletter 5 April 2020) and DPAC have denounced a situation in which disabled people who have been instructed to self-isolate have been denied priority in receiving food deliveries because they are not on the ‘Clinically Extremely Vulnerable’ Government list. DPAC are mounting a legal challenge.
“COVID-19 Guidance: Clinical Advice” to safeguard the rights of disabled and older people. They insist the Guidance must explicitly forbid the application of blanket policies in areas such as “Do Not Resuscitate” decisions and likewise must forbid “basing decisions to refuse access to critical care on the basis of age or mental or physical disability which is not clinically relevant to the prospect of survival.”
Working in Social Care During the Pandemic
Cowboy care companies are rampant in the UK, it’s time for health and social care workers to stand up and demand better and safer working conditions.
If you are an IWW member who works in social care and your employer is not meeting their obligations towards you – or if you would like to join the IWW and have us assist you with your workplace issues – please get in touch with us email@example.com
For Those in England & Wales
DPAC reports a new service available in England & Wales – a free advice helpline launched by Lawstop. The ‘advice line’ is live now, offering free support in all community care matters, which have seen recent changes since the passing of the Coronavirus Bill. Lawstop hope to offer support to all those affected. Individuals eligible for legal aid can access the service by calling 02081 502 588 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Government / Council Support with Food Deliveries
“Contacts to arrange shielding support:
If you are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and need support with shielding, use this page to find the telephone number for your local authority’s shielding support line.
They will be able to arrange for food and medicine deliveries if you need them, and signpost you to other support services.”
The Edinburgh contacts are 0131 200 2388 and email: email@example.com
There is more info about the criteria you need to meet to be eligible for the above here. If you try and access support from the Council in this way and do not find them helpful please contact ECAP for support and solidarity.
Edinburgh Food Distribution Partnership
If you’re without enough food and self-isolating please call the national helpline 0800 028 2816 to request help to access a food parcel. If you’re a local community organisation delivering food not already part of this network, contact EVOC on firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s unclear whether an individual can get a food parcel directly through the helpline or whether they will be referred on to a group who can provide them with help. If you’re unsuccessful please get in touch with ecap.
Community Support in Edinburgh area – Food Deliveries + more
COVID-19 Community Support Directory
Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations Council have started to put together a Directory of local groups/projects who are offering support during the current COVID-19 pandemic. This directory can be can be used to help connect people with the support and services they need and bring groups and organisations together. It includes, but is not limited to, groups distributing food. The directory is both online and a downloadable pdf which will be updated twice a week – keep an eye on the version number at the bottom of the document.
Scotland-Wide Coronavirus Community Assistance Directory
Community help for individuals & for organisations.
Mutual Aid Edinburgh
We know times are tough for a lot of people and we want to help. Mutual Aid Edinburgh have got funds to help deliver, subsidise, and pay for essential food shopping.
We’re extremely happy to announce that we’ve recently been awarded a grant from Foundation Scotland to assist with the shopping and delivering of food, hygiene, and other essential shops for vulnerable households across Edinburgh during the coronavirus outbreak.
In terms of funding and delivering the shops, there are three options:
(1) we can cover the full cost of the shop;
(2) we can cover a portion of the shop; and
(3) recipients would pay for the food, but it is still collected and delivered to your home.
This last option is for those who feel they can afford their shop, but still require shielding for any reason. However, if you are experiencing financial difficulty, please do take the option of a full or partial subsidy. We’re not the DWP – we won’t ask any questions!
If you or anyone you know living in Edinburgh can’t get to the shops right now or need some help covering the cost of an essential shop please let us know and we’ll try our best to help.
We would also be very grateful for food donations that we can distribute to those in need, drop a message and we’ll see if we can sort anything out. Contact us at email@example.com
Edinburgh Settlement Project Shop
34a Haddington Place, top of Leith Walk, Edinburgh Call 07805 274004.
Operates a drop-in FOODBANK Monday to Friday from 12 to 2 pm
This start up catering business is currently distributing free healthy meals to vulnerable people and those self-isolating in North Edinburgh and Leith. The group’s main kitchen is at the FetLor Youth Centre at Crewe Road South.
Delivery 3 times a week, meal for every day.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07496 850591
Greater Pilton/North Edinburgh
Support and help available via COVID-19 FOODSHARE GROUP
Community helpline 0131 356 0220 Mon to Friday 10 am – 4 pm
Helping Hands Edinburgh
The group collects food donations (safely) at The Crannie in Cranston Street (just off Edinburgh’s Canongate), in order to distribute to those in need throughout Edinburgh via various community groups. Donations are very welcome. Check out their Facebook page here.
This info will change, any updates or corrections please email email@example.com
Support & Solidarity in COVID-19 Emergency
The coronavirus pandemic means peoples’ solidarity is more vital than ever. We cannot rely on politicians to protect us – they are the ones who cut the health service and care system, causing suffering through austerity.
ECAP have published a leaflet SOURCES OF SUPPORT & SOLIDARITY IN COVID-19 EMERGENCY. Access to food and benefits, disabled peoples’ right to care, and housing rights are all covered. The leaflet urges action on these and more areas like PPE, redundancies, shutting down non-essential work etc and gives the contacts of various activist groups.
Living Rent tenants’ union write:
The Scottish Government has (finally) moved to ban all evictions following on from a successful campaign from Living Rent. The Scottish Government have promised that it will mean that no one is losing their home because of the pandemic. The legislation banning evictions has changed the notice period required for landlords to evict, the legislation will be in place for 6 months from April 7th (so at least until the end of September) and can be extended in 2 month blocks depending on the crisis. It applies to all tenants in Scotland in the private and social sectors.https://www.livingrent.org/covid_19_faqs
Please see Shelter’s website for the changes to required notice periods and eviction information.
If your landlord tells you to leave your flat, you should stay put and refer them to the legal changes introduced during the Coronavirus crisis here. If they are still trying to make you leave – this is illegal – you should get in touch with Living Rent’s Member Defence Coordinator ASAP.
Can’t Afford the Rent?
Living Rent is fighting for a rent waiver for all tenants. And Living Rent advise:
If you are not able to pay your rent, we would advise you to notify your landlord of your financial situation immediately in writing (e-mail), explaining your change of situation and negotiate a rent suspension or a rent reduction. Join Living Rent, and get in contact with a Living Rent Member Defence team, who can support you during this negotiation. The best way to negotiate with your landlord is with your Union by your side.https://www.livingrent.org/covid_19_faqs
Hygiene Kills The Virus Campaign
Living Rent is demanding the Scottish Government act to ensure social landlords properly clean all communal areas. Check out ‘A study of the multi-storey blocks in Muirhouse during the Covid-19 pandemic‘.
Rent & Benefits
The Child Poverty Action Group report:
In addition, the worker’s support package includes an announcement that there will be, ‘Nearly £1bn of additional support for renters, through increases in the generosity of housing benefit and Universal Credit. From April, Local Housing Allowance rates will pay for at least 30% of market rents in each area.’ Social Security (Coronavirus) (Further Measures) Regulations 2020, SI 2020 No.371, regulation 4
Fuel & Energy Bills
If you’re having problems with your heating or energy bills due to the coronavirus pandemic, see End Fuel Poverty Coalition for advice. Our links page also has links to fuel poverty help & advice.
[Last update: 15 May 2020]