• Covid-19 Benefit Changes
  • Psycho-emotional Support
  • A Worker’s Guide to Coronavirus
  • Womens’ Aid
  • Scottish Welfare Fund
  • Disability Benefits & Coronavirus Changes
  • Universal Credit
  • Better Than Zero ‘Reinstatement’
  • Reel News Campaign ‘Shut the Sites’
  • Excluded UK Campaign
  • Job Retention Scheme
  • Agency Workers ‘layoffs & furlough payments’
  • Agency Workers’ & Furlough
  • IWW Government Furlough Scheme
  • Scottish National Helpline
  • Mutual Aid Trans Edinburgh
  • Edinburgh Action for Trans Health Solidarity Fund
  • Disabled People/Social Care
  • For Those in England & Wales
  • Young People
  • Reinstate Richie Venton
  • Government/Council Support with Food
  • Community Support in Edinburgh (Food etc.)
  • COVID-19 Support & Solidarity Flyer
  • Housing
  • Fuel & Energy Bills
  • International Resistance


Covid-19 Benefit Changes

There have been many changes to benefits related to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the benefits rules are continuing to change.  Before relying on any information it is important to check it is still current.  The information on this page is current when we post it but we are all volunteers and we cannot guarantee our efforts to keep the page up-to-date are always successful.

The information at the following two links is regularly updated:

Child Poverty Action Group : collection of pages on Benefits and Coronavirus   https://askcpag.org.uk/publications/-216847/benefits-and-coronavirus

UK Government information on Employment and Benefits Support https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/employment-and-benefits-support/

The Benefits and Work Covid-19 Updates page is also worth checking out https://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/coronavirus-updates

It is even more vital during the pandemic that claimants and workers fight for our needs, especially as Governments world-wide put the profit economy before health.  Join us at our Jobcentre stalls and other activities, check out our Facebook https://www.facebook.com/edinburghagainstpoverty for news  #NoSanctions #NoConditionality

Psycho-emotional Support
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.

Womens’ Aid

Domestic Abuse helpline 0800 027 1234 Open 24/7.

Scottish Welfare Fund

The Scottish government have announced:

£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. Shirley Anne Somerville, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, stated in the Scottish Parliament on 27/3/20 :

The regulations governing the Scottish Welfare Fund allow a local authority to make more than 3 payments to an individual in a 12 month period if it considers there are exceptional circumstances. We have written to practitioners in each local authority confirming the provision of an additional £45 million for the Scottish Welfare Fund and noting that we consider the current circumstances to be exceptional.

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.

If knocked back contact ECAP for support and pressure your local councillors. Also, check out our SWF page.

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 ecap@lists.riseup.net for support and solidarity. And hassle your local councillors.

Disability Benefits and Coronavirus Changes

Check out this Child Poverty Action Group page for updates on disability benefits changes related to Covid-19.

PIP and DLA reviews and reassessments will gradually resume from this month [July], starting with those claims which were already underway when they were suspended. The DWP say they will shortly be writing out to some PIP and DLA claimants asking them to complete paperwork to resume their reviews, reassessments and renewals.

If your paperwork has already been returned, you may soon hear from an assessment provider.

Universal Credit

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.

The benefit system has undergone swift change due to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. Download the ‘Disability Rights UK Handbook Coronavirus Supplement‘ now.

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.

Excluded UK Campaign

A new campaign looking to support those who have not been able to access help from the government during the coronavirus crisis. Check out the website here.

Job Retention scheme

A lot of specific info on the job retention scheme can be found here. Also, check out the official government guidance.

Agency Workers & Coronavirus Lay-Offs

Agency Workers & Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Agency workers are classed as employees and entitled to SSP if wages over the qualifying limit.

“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

Agency workers might be eligible for ‘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

Advice sheet in English and Spanish from IWW UK.

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.

Edinburgh Action for Trans Health Solidarity Fund

From EA4TH: “Our solidarity fund is now open again so please get in touch if you are experiencing financial difficulties. Our solidarity fund is NOT limited just to people struggling due to COVID-19, we also continue to give out funds for anything trans health related people need help with. If you are a trans person struggling for cash, no matter the reason, please get in touch! and please share!  edinburgh@actionfortranshealth.org.uk or pm us on Facebook.”

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 coronavirus lockdown has left many disabled people “at the end of their tether” as they struggle to access personal care.

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.

The Scottish Human Rights Commission is making recommendations for the:

“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 healthworkers@iww.org.uk

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 info@lawstop.co.uk.

Young People

Youth Link Scotland Resources for Young People including information for young carers. Information for Young Carers (including Young Carer Grant). Young Carers’ Package & Carers’ Allowance.

Reinstate Richie Venton

A campaign page set up by Glasgow IKEA workers furious at the victimisation and sacking of our elected USDAW shop steward, Richie
Venton, and the attacks on our rights and conditions, including removal of wages from workers off sick with Covid-19. Demand that IKEA
immediately reinstates elected union shop steward and convener RICHIE VENTON to his job and elected union position. Support the campaign for every worker to be paid their full average wages if they are sick or self-isolating with Covid-19 – instead of the poverty of £95 Statutory Sick Pay forcing workers to take risks and infect others by going to work.

Government / Council Support with Food Deliveries

[This paragraph has been updated: November 2020]

The Scottish Government has announced a pause to shielding. People advised to shield because of covid-19 were advised they no longer needed to do so from 1 August. Deliveries of weekly grocery boxes to people shielding continued until the end of July for those who had already signed up.

Read the latest guidance on shielding on the Scottish Government’s website. This includes information on food delivery schemes from supermarkets. You can also find more shielding advice, including information about going back to school or work, on the mygov.scot website.

The Scottish Government has set up a SMS shielding service for the latest updates about shielding. You can join this service by sending a text from your mobile phone to 0786 006

If you were shielding and still need support, and you live in Edinburgh…..

email Edinburghvulnerable@edinburgh.gov.uk or call 0131 200 2306 during working hours Monday to Friday to discuss how the Council may be able to support you. If you call outwith working hours and it is an emergency, call the Care and Response service on 0131 200 2000.

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.

Community Support in Edinburgh area – Food Deliveries + more

This section “Community Support in Edinburgh area – Food Deliveries + more” checked and updated mid November 2020.

COVID-19 Community Support DirectoryEdinburgh Voluntary Organisations Council have put together a Directory of local groups/projects who are offering support during the 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 regularly– keep an eye on the version number at the bottom of the document.

Plus see EVOC Covid-19 Resources. See also Covid 19 and communities pages, aimed primarily at community groups,

Food and Resources Bank – Oficina Precaria / Precarity Office Scotland

Oficina Precaria have created a food and resources bank – non-perishable food, toiletries, hygiene products and some children’s clothes are available free.

Self-referral form and more info in english Self-referral form and more info in spanish

The Oficina Precaria Resource Bank is now OPEN as an emergency service on Thursdays from 11am in ACE 17 West Montgomery Place EH7 5HA .

Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty

ECAP have a supply of tinned and dry food and toiletries / sanitary products available free. Email ecap@lists.riseup.net to arrange an appointment on a Tuesday morning at ACE to pick up your supplies. As well as tins of soup, fish, beans and more, we usually have lentils, rice, pasta, long-life milk, toothpaste, soap, tampons, etc..

If you are unable to come to our premises then, or if you have particular dietary requirements, please email to let us know, as we may be able to buy some food/ essential supplies for you, and deliver to your home. If you are in need of this solidarity, please do get in touch.

Also, if you have an appointment on a Tuesday to get support and advice from ECAP, you are welcome to pick up food and supplies from our stocks.

Refugee Community Kitchen Edinburgh

“Free groceries and free soup in Edinburgh. Please contact us if you need our services, without referral necessary.

We support displaced people in Northern France and homeless people in London and Edinburgh. We give people more than a hot meal, we give them a place to gather and connect. Somewhere to recreate a community – providing spaces for medical and legal services, safeguarding groups and other support organisation and people in need to meet.” Contact rckedinburghoutreach@outreach.com Facebook

Edinburgh Settlement Project Shop
34a Haddington Place, top of Leith Walk, Edinburgh Call 07805 274004.
Operates a food sharing project with donations of food from shops etc. Open from Monday to Saturday 10 am to 5.30 pm.

Greater Pilton/North Edinburgh
Community helpline 0131 356 0220 Mon to Friday 10 am – 4 pm. Low Income Families Together based at the Muirhouse Millennium Centre

Muirhouse – Fidra Court Community kitchen, Pennywell Medway EH4 4SE. Open Wed + Friday 9.30am – 1pm, and Thurs 10am – 12. Fidra Community kitchen is pleased to be able to offer a free weekly bag of groceries per household, plus a bag of fruit/veg.

Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts

They do not means test their clients, and are here for everyone facing reduced safe access to food. You may want to consider signing up for a pack even if you are still employed but your employment status is under threat due to COVID-19. They deliver to all over Edinburgh inside the ring road, The Facebook page is here. Email food.ekfh@gmail.com or call 07895 347157.

Solidarity not Charity

Edinburgh Helping Hands

Mutual Aid Edinburgh

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.

Housing

Muirhouse – Edinburgh Council flouts Government hygiene regulations during pandemic.

No Evictions. 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‘.

Living Rent Covid-19 FAQ’s, edinburgh@livingrent.org, Facebook @livingrentedinburgh, Living Rent Website.

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.

International Resistance

Struggles are growing world-wide, as workers and communities fight for people’s health and safety against the drive by governments and businesses to put profits first and recklessly restart the economy.

Good sources of news are Fever Struggle, Reel News Facebook & their website. And contact info@reelnews.co.uk to hook into the international network….

[Last update: partial October 2020]

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