Coronavirus (COVID-19) - additional support for you and your family

Coronavirus is affecting all our lives.  This page gives guidance on support that you and your family could be entitled to.

If you are unable to work, we know you will be worried and you are not alone in seeking support. The impact of coronavirus is having a significant effect on our communities. Many people who have never claimed benefits or asked for help before are now doing the right thing and seeking what they are entitled to.

If you've been affected by coronavirus, you might be able to claim benefits or get more money on your current benefits. 

This might be because you: 

  • can't work as you have coronavirus or you're following guidance to stay home.
  • are earning less because you can't go to work.
  • are self-employed and you're earning less.
  • have lost your job.

Your first step should be to use the online tool at gov.uk and check with Citizen's Advice

HMRC have also introduced a new digital assistant to help people find information about the coronavirus support schemes available.

If you are not online, please call your local Citizens Advice office:

  • Allerdale - 01900 604735.
  • Barrow - 03444 889624.
  • Carlisle and Eden - 03300 563037.
  • Copeland - 01946 693321 Whitehaven area and 01229 772395 for Millom.
  • South Lakes - 03444 111444 for debt and ongoing enquiries and 015394 46464 for new enquiries.

If your employer has told you not to work, you might be able to keep getting paid. Your employer can use the government Coronavirus Job Retention scheme to pay you while there's no work to do. Employers can claim for 80% of an employee's wages plus any employer National Insurance and pension contributions, if employees are put on furlough because of coronavirus. You need to have been on your employer's payroll on 19 March 2020 and be paid through PAYE.

You can work somewhere else if your contract with your current employer lets you. Getting a new job won't affect your furlough pay. You can also volunteer and help in your community. 

If you get a new job, you should make sure:

  • you can go back to work for the employer who furloughed you when they decide to bring you back
  • your new employer gives you the HM Revenue and Customs starter checklist form - you'll need to complete Statement C.

If you need money while you're waiting for your employer to pay you, continue reading for guidance on help with paying bills and claiming benefits you could be entitled to.


You might get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you are following government guidance to self-isolate or you are shielding.

You could get SSP if:

  • you have coronavirus.
  • you have symptoms of coronavirus.
  • someone you live with has coronavirus or symptoms of coronavirus.
  • the NHS has sent you a letter advising you to shield because you're 'extremely vulnerable' - find out more about shielding.

You are 'vulnerable' if you're aged 70 or over, pregnant or have certain health conditions - it's different from being extremely vulnerable. You might have to work if you're vulnerable. Find out if you are classed as vulnerable on the GOV.UK website. If you want to stop working, you won't get SSP unless you are following government guidance to self-isolate.

Find out more about getting Statutory Sick Pay.

If you are getting less work or no work because of coronavirus, you might be able to claim a grant through the coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme.  Further information can be found under 'Work, financial support and money' advice at the Gov.uk website. HMRC have also introduced a new digital assistant to help people find information about the coronavirus support schemes available.

You might be able to claim contribution based or new style Employment Support Allowance (ESA) if you have coronavirus or you are self-isolating. 

You will need to have paid enough National Insurance contributions for two tax years - in 2020 the tax years are 2017-18 and 2018-19.

If you can get ESA, you'll be paid from the first day you were sick or self-isolating. 

You will also be able to get ESA if you're caring for a child who has coronavirus or who's been told to self-isolate.

Check if you can get Employment Support Allowance.


Many people reading this will not have claimed benefits before but could now be entitled to Universal Credit which will help if you're on a low income or out of work.

You might be able to claim Universal Credit as well as Statutory Sick Pay. You can still get Universal Credit if you're self-employed. 

Check if you can claim Universal Credit

Find out more about Universal Credit - which explains the changes the government has brought in to support people who are already claiming benefits, need to claim benefits, or are at risk of losing their job as a result of coronavirus.

If you need help making a claim online, please call the Universal Credit helpline (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm):

  • Telephone - 0800 328 5644 or Textphone - 0800 328 1344.

Or call the Citizens Advice Help to Claim service on 0800 144 8444.

The sooner you apply for Universal Credit the better, the current wait between applying and payment is around 5 weeks. We know this will be an uncomfortable wait for some people, please continue reading for additional support.


If you're already receiving Tax Credits, make sure you check the New to Universal Credit information and consider seeking further advice.

Take stock of any regular direct debits or credit payments you make, these might include rent or mortgage, council tax, credit card repayments, energy bills, car loans and subscriptions.

It's important you don't ignore your bills. Make a list and speak to the organisation you owe money to. They might be able to help by letting you pay smaller amounts or take a break.

It's also worth checking with your bank or building society. They might be able to help you with your debts or let you delay loan or credit card repayments.


Tenants who are unable to pay rent should speak to their landlord or letting agent at the earliest opportunity.

As part of the national effort to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak it's important that landlords offer support and understanding to tenants who may start to see their income fluctuate.

If a tenant is worried about being unable to pay their rent, or if landlords become aware of tenants who may be in difficulty, advice is available from specialist providers such Shelter, Citizens Advice and websites like The Money Advice Service.


If you are having difficulties with your accommodation or are at risk of eviction then you should seek assistance from your local council housing team on one of the numbers below:

  • Allerdale Borough Council on 01900 702702.
  • Barrow Borough Council on 01229 876543.
  • Carlisle City Council on 01228 817000.
  • Copeland Borough Council on 01946 427070.
  • Eden District Council on 01768 817817.
  • South Lakeland District Council on 0845 050 4434.

If you ask your mortgage provider, they might agree to pause your mortgage payments for 3 months. This is called a 'payment holiday'. Check your mortgage provider's website for details.

If you can, keep making your payments until your mortgage provider agrees you can take a payment holiday.

After your payment holiday you'll still need to make up the payments you missed, plus interest added during the 3 months. This means you'll have to either:

  • Pay more each month.
  • Keep making payments for longer.

You can find out more about payment holidays on the Financial Conduct Authority's website.


You do not need to go without food, it's ok to seek support.

If, as a result of the current situation, you are unable to feed yourself or your family, you may be able to get some emergency food from a food bank. 

In order to do so, you will need to get a voucher from one of the food bank's authorised voucher holders once they have established that this is appropriate in your particular circumstances. If you do not already have contact with a voucher holder, then please get in touch with Cumbria County Council's welfare support team on 01228 221100.

Food banks are located across the county, find your nearest foodbank.

Please remember that food banks are voluntary organisations - staffed entirely by volunteers - and all of their food is generously donated by members of the public. 

Additional support:

People can find themselves in need of support to the extent where they are at a critical point of being without basic supplies. 

If you feel that you are in need of some help and need assistance, please call Cumbria County Council's welfare support team on 01228 221100 (Monday to Thursday 9am to 4.30pm, Friday 9am to 4pm) or email communitysupport@cumbria.gov.uk.

More information is also available on the welfare web pages.

This service is available to people who reside in Cumbria, are aged 16 or over, in receipt of income-related benefits and are facing severe hardship or crisis.

If you need urgent help with getting food, medicines, essential supplies and home deliveries and cannot seek support from friends, family or neighbours, please call the county council's Emergency Support Helpline on 0800 783 1966 or complete an online enquiry form.

The helpline operates Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and 10am to 2pm at weekends and Bank Holidays. The service also accepts referrals from members of the public who may be concerned about people in their community.

Our local Support Directories have useful contacts and details of the community support available in your area.

Find local area updates and signup to email newsletters.

Allerdale Borough Council

We are continuing to maintain our services as much as possible as well as work with partners on the emergency response. For the latest service developments including about our waste collections go to our website

Use our online forms and webchat to contact us or call 0303 123 1702. This is also an out-of-hours emergency number.  

If you're struggling financially, our website has advice for individuals including about council tax support. Or give us a call. If you find yourself homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless, we can help. Call 01900 702660 or email homelessness@allerdale.gov.uk for advice. 

Our website also has information on grants and other support available for businesses. 

Local Authority Discretionary Grant Scheme for businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak


Barrow Borough Council

Advice and support is available for residents across the borough from our teams at Barrow Borough Council.

For those struggling to pay council tax, please contact 01229 404242 to discuss a number of options designed to help, including council tax relief for those eligible.

Our housing options team is available on 01229 876374 / 876458 or email housing@barrowbc.gov.uk for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Discretionary Business Grant Fund

Please check our website for continued service updates.


Carlisle City Council

We are continuing to provide critical services and are doing all we can to support our local communities. We are also working with partners on the emergency response, focusing on the needs of the most vulnerable.

If you're struggling to pay your council tax or want to spread the costs, please get in touch by emailing us or give us a call.

Covid 19: Business Discretionary Grant Fund


Copeland Borough Council

Copeland Borough Council has access to a range of help for those experiencing hardship at this time. 

Coronavirus - resources for business

For general enquiries go to the Copeland Borough Council website, email info@copeland.gov.uk or call 01946 598300. 


Eden District Council

We continue to provide essential services and support for our communities. We are also working closely with our partners on the emergency community response. You can contact us during office hours on 01768 817817 or email customer.services@eden.gov.uk. Updates on all our services can be found on Eden District Council website, where you can also make use of our easy to use report, apply and pay facilities. If you're struggling to pay your council tax or want to spread the costs, please get in touch, we're here to help.

Support for businesses


South Lakeland District Council

All our offices are closed to face-to-face enquiries. You can still contact us during normal office hours by emailing customer.services@southlakeland.gov.uk or calling us on 01539 733333.

We are maintaining all essential services including benefits payments, environmental protection services and grey bin waste collections.

Anyone who is struggling to afford to pay their Council Tax can contact us to discuss ways we can help, such as entitlement to help under the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

Updates about other council services, including information about access to free sanitary products and the re-introduction of green waste collections, can be found on the South Lakeland District Council website, and by following us on Facebook or Twitter.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) business support grants

There is a worry that people are not seeking the help they need for important conditions other than COVID-19. There has been a significant reduction in people being referred to hospital services with suspected cancer, heart problems and suspected stroke.

Local general practices and hospitals have dedicated COVID-19 free zones to safely see and treat patients.

Please do ask for help if you need it - use the NHS 111 online service at , or call 111 if you're unable to get help online.

For life-threatening emergencies - call 999 for an ambulance.

The coronavirus outbreak means that life is changing for all of us for a while. It may cause you to feel anxious, stressed, worried, sad, bored, lonely or frustrated.

It's important to remember it is OK to feel this way and that everyone reacts differently. Remember, this situation is temporary and, for most of us, these difficult feelings will pass.

10 tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus.

Everyone is entitled to live safely without fear of violence or abuse.

If you, or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse, help is available. Call 101, or report online.

Always call 999 in an emergency.

Fact sheet from Government - support for victims of domestic abuse

It's important people continue to report safeguarding issues and domestic abuse, here are some useful links: