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Coronavirus Benefits Advice

The government announced several changes to certain benefits as a direct response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Some of the changes are outlined below:

Local Housing Allowance

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is a rate that is used to calculate how much Universal Credit or housing benefit you receive if you rent your home. LHA rates increased to what is known as ‘the 30th percentile’ on 1 April 2020. This means that three out of every 10 properties should now be affordable to someone who needs to claim housing benefit or universal credit (housing element) – without having to top them up with their own money. See the new increased Covid-19 LHA rates on our website.

Universal Credit

From 6 April 2020 the government increased the standard allowance for Universal Credit (UC) by around £20 per week. This means for UC the standard element will increase from £324.84 to £411.51 per month. This expired September 2021.

Find out more information from the government on UC. 

Working Tax Credit

If you’re part of a working household that receives tax credits, you may be eligible for a new one-off payment of £500. The new payment is being introduced to provide extra support when the temporary increase in Working Tax Credit ended as planned on 5 April 2021.

You may be eligible for a one-off, tax-free payment of £500 if, on 2 March 2021, you were getting either:

  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit and were eligible for Working Tax Credit but you did not get a payment because your income is too high to get Working Tax Credit payments

Council Tax Reduction Scheme

In March 2020, the government gave all local authorities a ‘hardship fund’ of money and instructed local authorities to give every CTR applicant who qualifies for support, up to an extra £150 off their 2020-21 council tax bill. 

For the financial year 2021-22, Kent County Council approved all existing Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS) working-age households to automatically have their 2021-22 Council Tax reduced by £50 – or by the total Council Tax due if this is less than £50.

New claimants eligible for CTRS throughout the year will also receive the additional reduction to their Council Tax bills.

You will qualify for support if you have applied for CTR and your council tax bill shows ‘Council Tax Reduction’ on it, coupled with letters explaining how your entitlement has been calculated. If you did not qualify for CTR but are suffering financial hardship you can make an Exceptional Circumstances Payment claim

Read Ashford Borough Council's Council Tax Exceptional Circumstances 2021-2022 Policy [pdf] 149KB.