The Government has released guidance for landlords and tenants in the context of Coronavirus (COVID-19). You can find this guidance at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-and-renting-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities

They have also announced a number of new measures to help support employees, benefit claimants and businesses. You can find out more about this at:

www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-support-for-employees-benefit-claimants-and-businesses.  

The situation is changing frequently and the latest advice can be found on the Government's website.

 

Q. I am a benefits customer. Can I access my services online?

A. Yes — whether you are a council tax, business rates or benefits customer, you can access all of our services 24/7on our website through 'My Account'.

By using 'My Account' on our website, you can:

  • manage payments
  • access council tax or business rates records
  • view account details and recent bills
  • claim housing benefit or council tax reduction
  • report a change in your circumstances for housing benefit or council tax reduction, and
  • update personal details

Simply visit www.chichester.gov.uk/myaccount and select the service you need.
 

Q. I am a resident and need financial help to pay my bills. What can I do?

A. If you are on a low income or are out of work, you can claim Universal Credit.

However, if you:

  • receive a Severe Disability Premium,
  • you are a pensioner,  and/or
  • you live in temporary accommodation.

Then you would need to claim housing benefit and/or council tax reduction from us instead.

For help with council tax bills, please see the information below.

 

Q. How can I apply for housing benefit?

A. Residents who are on a low income or are out of work, and who are not entitled to Universal Credit, can claim housing benefit.

To do this, please visit: www.chichester.gov.uk/applyforbenefit

 

Q. How can I apply for council tax reduction or access other help with my council tax bill?

A. The council offers a number of discounts for council tax payers, and you can see these options here: www.chichester.gov.uk/counciltaxdiscount.

One of the options is to apply for Council Tax Reduction. This is a means tested benefit and does not take account of outgoings.

If you are already claiming Council Tax Reduction, the Government has announced a Hardship Fund to support residents who are struggling financially. Residents who are eligible for the support will have their award automatically credited to their council tax bill. You do not need to contact us to receive this payment because we have all of the relevant details. We will be processing these payments as quickly as possible and we currently estimate that this will be done during April.

If you apply or have applied, and you receive a reduction but are still concerned about making payments, we urge you to contact us to discuss the options available. Please email: taxation@chichester.gov.uk

Q. I receive housing benefit and/or council tax reduction. Do I need to update you of a change in circumstance?

A. Yes please. It is important that you let us know about any change in your circumstances. This is quick and easy to do. You can do this by visiting www.chichester.gov.uk/article/29353/Change-of-circumstances


If your income has changed as a result of coronavirus don't forget to tell us so that your award can be amended. The easiest way to do this is online please visit www.chichester.gov.uk/myaccount


You do not need to contact us if your circumstances have not changed. If you are eligible for financial support as part of the Government's Hardship Fund, you will have your award automatically credited to your council tax bill. You do not need to contact us to receive this payment because we have all of the relevant details. We will be processing these payments as quickly as possible and we currently estimate that this will be done during April.

 

Q. How do I find out more about Universal Credit?

A. You can find further information about Universal Credit  online at: https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit

Universal Credit can be contacted by calling the Universal Credit helpline on: 0800 328 5644 (Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm)

If you are already a Universal Credit customer, you can also contact them through your online account.
 

Q. I currently receive Universal Credit. Do I need to notify anyone of a change in circumstance?

A.Yes. You should notify the Department for Works and Pensions of any changes in your circumstances. You can do this by visiting: https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/changes-of-circumstances

For details of what constitutes a change, please click on the following link: https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/changes-of-circumstances
 

Q. I receive housing benefit/Universal Credit but am still having difficulty meeting my rent payments. Is there any extra help I can access?

A.
You may be able to access extra help from the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) Fund. This money is there to help people with their housing costs and is available to people in receipt of housing benefit or those who have housing costs included in their Universal Credit award, and where someone has a shortfall between the rent that they are eligible to pay and the amount of benefit that they receive. This can be applied for online at www.chichester.gov.uk/benefitforms#dhp. If you have been in receipt of Discretionary Housing Payment in March 2020, we will consider an extension to your award to avoid you having to reclaim at this time. We will contact you with details about this if you are affected.

The Government has increased Local Housing Allowance rates as an emergency response to the coronavirus outbreak. This will increase your housing benefit or universal credit payment if you rent privately. The new rates have been published for details visit www.chichester.gov.uk/counciltaxreduction We are working on updating our system this week and letters advising you of your new housing benefit award will be issued shortly. It would assist us if you could sign up to receive your benefit letters and council tax bills online. To find out more visit www.chichester.gov.uk/myaccount.

You may also be able to access Council Tax Reduction on your council tax, which is a means tested benefit and does not take account of outgoings. The Government has announced a Hardship Fund to support residents who are struggling financially. Residents who are eligible for the support will have their award automatically credited to their council tax bill. You do not need to contact us to receive this payment because we have all of the relevant details. We will be processing these payments as quickly as possible and we currently estimate that this will be done during April. If you do not receive 'Council Tax Reduction' and think you may be eligible, please visit our website for further details and to make an online application www.chichester.gov.uk/myaccount. Residents who are experiencing difficulties paying their council tax are encouraged to contact the us to discuss the options available to them. You can also find out more information at: www.chichester.gov.uk/article/24588/Council-tax-payment-difficulties

 

Q. I am going to have problems paying my mortgage because of the coronavirus, what should I do?

A.The Government has announced some help for people who are struggling to pay their mortgage as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. This may involve a payment holiday of up to three months. You will need to contact your lender to find out how to apply for assistance in these circumstances.
 

Q. I am going to have problems paying my rent to my social landlord because of the coronavirus, what should I do?

A. If you pay your rent to a social landlord (housing association) please read the information above. If you are still concerned afterwards you should contact your social landlord immediately.
 

Q. I am worried I may have to leave my privately rented home as a result of the coronavirus, what should I do?

A.You should not give up your current accommodation without first seeking advice.  

Please follow the advice above about help with meeting housing costs. The Government has increased Local Housing Allowance rates as an emergency response to the coronavirus outbreak. This will increase your housing benefit or universal credit payment if you rent privately. The new rates have been published for details visit www.chichester.gov.uk/counciltaxreduction We are working on updating our system this week and letters advising you of your new housing benefit award will be issued shortly. It would assist us if you could sign up to receive your benefit letters and council tax bills online. To find out more visit www.chichester.gov.uk/myaccount.

If you need more detailed advice about your situation please contact our Housing Advice Team by emailing housingadvice@chichester.gov.uk or calling 01243 534734.

The Government has also promised additional help for renters. When we know more we will update this section so please check on a regular basis.
 

Q. I live in shared accommodation and I need to self-isolate, what should I do?

A.Please see the latest Government guidance here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection
 

Q. How are you supporting rough sleepers?
A. We are doing everything it can to help rough sleepers during the current crisis. We are especially conscious that rough sleepers face particular health risks and so we have identified short term accommodation options for all of the known rough sleepers in Chichester and where they have taken up this offer have ensured that they have the support they need. A very small number of people may refuse this, and in these cases we will provide advice and guidance around the need for self-isolation and signpost to the support that is available.

We will continue to support rough sleepers once they are in accommodation by ensuring that they have a phone and are in regular contact with one of our Outreach Workers. Support will also be available through Stonepillow day centres in Chichester and  Bognor, which are offering access to food and other services. It is worth noting that in order to meet social distancing guidance, the centres are limited to a certain number of people at any one time. The council is supporting this work by providing non-essential staff to assist Stonepillow at the Chichester Hub. 

Every day, our dedicated Outreach Workers engage with all rough sleepers, helping them to access accommodation and the services that they need. We work closely with agencies, partners, and local charities to help support rough sleepers.

If you are worried about anyone who may be sleeping rough please contact Streetlink at: www.streetlink.org.uk. This referral will go directly to our Outreach Worker, who will attempt to find the individual and assess their needs.

 

Q. What are you doing to help protect rough sleepers who may become ill due to the coronavirus?

A.We are very aware that rough sleepers face particular health risks at this time. We are working closely with local charities and partners to encourage rough sleepers to take up the help which is available. This includes providing increased grant funding and working with Stonepillow, a registered charity, to recruit additional volunteers. You can find out more about Stonepillow's work at www.stonepillow.org.uk. Outreach workers and community wardens are in regular contact with known rough sleepers to offer them support. If you are worried about anyone who may be sleeping rough please contact Streetlink at: www.streetlink.org.uk. This referral will go directly to our Outreach Worker, who will attempt to find the individual and assess their needs.