Dean Dunham: What help and support is available as UK unemployment rises?

26 January 2021, 13:22 | Updated: 26 January 2021, 20:25

Dean Dunham's advice: UK unemployment rises - what help and support is available?
Dean Dunham's advice: UK unemployment rises - what help and support is available? Picture: PA/LBC
Dean Dunham

By Dean Dunham

With unemployment numbers rising due to Covid LBC looks at what help and support is available to you.

We already knew that unemployment numbers were increasing drastically due to the pandemic, but this has now been confirmed by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The unemployment rate hit a 5-year high in December after record redundancies in the last three months of the year and 828,000 jobs disappearing since coronavirus hit Britain.

The unemployment rate is the highest it has been since 2016 and nearly 1,000,000 have lost their jobs since the pandemic began.

Unfortunately, with more and more retailers either going bust or moving to online trading only, the furlough scheme coming to an end in April and the increasing restrictions being placed on the travel sector, it appears highly likely that unemployment numbers will continue to grow.

If you find yourself either out of work or having to work less hours due to the pandemic, here is what you can do:

“I’VE LOST MY JOB”

Consider three things: i) what other jobs are available ii) can you retrain to do a different job and iii) what immediate financial help is available?

Applying for jobs Government has a ‘find a job’ service it operates via its website. This is simply a database of vacancies throughout the UK (Northern Ireland has a separate search facility).

There obviously also many other websites that display vacancies and it is also worth registering with recruitment agencies.

Retrain for a new role

From April 2021, the government is offering almost 400 free courses, worth the equivalent of an A-level qualification in subjects such as accountancy, engineering, and business studies. You can find more details here.

The national careers service also offers lots of useful resources, including a skills assessment, a search tool for courses, and help with CVs. You can find more details here.

Many universities (including the Open University) and other institutions are also currently offering free short courses, details of which you can find online.

The Prince's Trust is offering free personal development sessions to help 18-30 year-olds get into the health and social care sector. The charity offers mentoring, CV help, and can match jobseekers with suitable local employers. This is a great resource; more details can be seen here.

Immediate financial help

If you have lost your job, you might be able to get New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Universal Credit or Pension Credit.

New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)

You could get New Style JSA if:

· you usually work less than 16 hours a week

· you’re under State Pension age

· you have made enough National Insurance contributions over the last 2 to 3 years

Your savings and partner’s income will not affect how much you get. You might be able to get New Style JSA at the same time as Universal Credit.

Universal Credit

You could get Universal Credit if:

· you have less than £16,000 in savings

· you or your partner is under State Pension age

If you are already getting tax credits, they will stop when you or your partner applies for Universal Credit.

You might be able to get Universal Credit at the same time as New Style JSA. Depending on your circumstances, Universal Credit can include additional amounts for things like rent or the costs of raising children.

Pension Credit

You could get Pension Credit if:

· you and your partner have both reached State Pension age

· your weekly income is below £173.75 (for single people) or £265.20 (for couples)

You might still be able to get it even if you have savings, have a pension or own your home.

You can find out more about these benefits on the Gov website here.

“I STILL HAVE MY JOB BUT HAVE BEEN PUT ON UNPAID LEAVE OR REDUCED HOURS”

If your employer has less or no work for you because of coronavirus, ask if they will put you ‘on furlough’ or ‘on flexible furlough’. This will mean that you will get at least 80% of your normal pay.

If your workplace has been told to close, or your employer has less work for you than normal, you might be able to get New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Universal Credit or Pension Credit.

“I STILL HAVE MY JOB BUT CANNOT WORK DUE TO HAVING COVID/ MY CHILD HAVING COVID”

If you have a job but cannot work due to you or your child having Covid, you may be eligible to claim for one of more of the following:

Test and Trace Support Payment

Your local council might be able to give you £500 if:

· you’ve been told to self-isolate

· you live in England

· you’re on a low income

· you cannot work from home and will lose income as a result You can find more information here.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

You may be able to get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from your employer for every day of work you miss because of coronavirus. If you are off work for 7 or more days, your employer may ask you to provide proof that you are self-isolating because of coronavirus.

You may be able to get Universal Credit or Pension Credit at the same time as SSP. The amount you get may be reduced by the amount of your SSP. You can see if you’re eligible here.

New Style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

You might be able to get New Style ESA if either:

· you have a disability or health condition that affects how much you can work

· you or your child has coronavirus is self-isolating or shielding.

You can apply for it if:

· you cannot get SSP

· you are under State Pension age

· you have made enough National Insurance contributions over the last 2 to 3 years

· you’re employed, self-employed or unemployed

Your savings and partner’s income will not affect how much you get. You might be able to get Universal Credit at the same time as New Style ESA. You can find more information here.

Universal Credit

You could get Universal Credit if:

· you have less than £16,000 in savings

· you or your partner is under State Pension age

If you are already getting tax credits, they will stop when you or your partner applies for Universal Credit.

You might be able to get Universal Credit at the same time as SSP or New Style ESA. Depending on your circumstances, Universal Credit can include additional amounts for things like rent or the costs of raising children. You can find more information here.

Pension Credit

You could get Pension Credit if:

· you and your partner have both reached State Pension age

· your weekly income is below £173.75 (for single people) or £265.20 (for couples)

You might still be able to get it even if you have savings, have a pension, or own your home. You can get Pension Credit at the same time as SSP.