Coronavirus

Dudley Council
Dudley Skyline

You may be worried about Coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it has had an impact on you or your family. If you are worried about debt or your financial situation at this time, there are services in Dudley that will offer their support.

Test and Trace Isolation Payment

If you have been told by the NHS to self-isolate, either because you have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) or you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, you may be entitled to some financial support during your self-isolation period.

COVID Test and Trace Isolation Payment

COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Grant

The Local Authority Emergency Assistance Grant for Food and Essential Supplies is to support people who are struggling to afford food and other essentials due to financial hardship and/or hardship caused by COVID-19. This scheme is temporary.

COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Grant

Welfare Assistance Grants & Loans

Local Welfare Assistance Loan Scheme (Temporarily replaced by the COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Grant)

People in crisis, in emergency or disaster situations, can access help for daily living expenses, fuel and food costs, and for items and equipment, from Dudley’s Local Welfare Assistance Loan Scheme This offers low cost repayable loans to qualifying customers. It may therefore be more beneficial to try to obtain foodbank vouchers for food where possible as this will avoid the need to incur debt.

The project is delivered in partnership by Citizens Advice (CA), Castle and Crystal Credit Union and Dudley Council, with customers approaching CA in the first instance.  This service is accessible only by phone using 01384 813510. 

Staff will consider individual applicant circumstances, identify alternative solutions/remedies and, in appropriate cases, begin the loan application process.

 To be considered for a loan, applicants must satisfy ALL of the following conditions:

  • Be aged 16 or over;
  • Be without sufficient resources to meet an urgent need that poses an immediate and substantial risk to their health and safety or that of their dependants;
  • A resident of the Dudley Borough for the past 6 months or 3 years out of the past 5 years. Or, if a member of the Armed Forces, then a strong connection to the Dudley Borough is required. However, exceptions will be granted where the applicant requires refuge or care following abuse, harm or an unsettled way of life or where the applicant needs to live in the borough to receive support;
  • Legally resident in the UK;
  • LWAS is now designated as a ‘public fund’ and so is not available to persons from abroad unless they have recourse to public funds.

Crisis Award Loan

Crisis awards can be granted in situations where a household has insufficient resources to meet an urgent need that poses an immediate and substantial risk to health and safety. This would be due to an urgent need arising as a consequence of emergency or disaster, or unforeseen circumstances or a pressing need.

Examples might include:

  • No access to essential items (food, heating and clothing)
  • The imminent risk of homelessness deemed to be unintentional
  • A deterioration in health
  • The imminent risk of children being taken into care
  • Domestic abuse, neglect or harm

 

Community Care Award Loan

This is intended to help vulnerable people live independent lives to remain and/or become integrated within their community.

An award may be considered to help people:

  • Leaving care – to re-establish themselves in the community
  • To stay in the community – rather than enter care
  • To ease exceptional pressures
  • Leaving custody to readjust to life outside of prison and integrate back into the community
  • To set up home as part of a resettlement programme following an unsettled way of life.

In order to qualify for an award, applicants must be in receipt of, or have an entitlement to,:

  • Income Support
  • Jobseekers Allowance (income based)
  • Pension Credit
  • Employment and Support Allowance (income related)
  • A disability related benefit (Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Personal Independence Payment)
  • Universal Credit (an earnings limit may apply)

It is possible that an applicant may be directed to other sources of help and other agencies for advice.

If applicable, an application will be assessed against the scheme criteria, taking into account personal circumstances, the urgency of the need, how the crisis occurred and the level of risk to the applicant’s (and/or dependants’) health and safety. Ability to repay a loan will also be assessed.

The applicant will be asked to provide evidence of residency, personal ID and may also be asked to provide evidence of need and/or personal resources. In the current circumstances, all evidence should be emailed to Dudley Council Plus or posted.

If the applicant is not able to get out themselves, they can give details of a trusted nominated person i.e. name, address phone number, bank sort code and bank account number, who can deal with the application on their behalf.

Once the assessment is complete, a decision will be issued. This may be a decision to refer to the Castle & Crystal Credit Union for a low cost repayable loan.  If a loan is not an option, advice will be given on other forms of help available.

If a successful loan referral is made the applicant, or their trusted nominated person, will be sent a text or Email inviting them to attend the Castle & Crystal Credit Union to open sign an agreement to open an account, complete a standing order form to be sent to their/trusted nominated person’s bank for repayment, & within 2 hours the payment should be in their/trusted nominated person’s bank.

The aim is to complete this process within 48 hours but at busy times this can take up to 7 days.

There is no official right for a review or appeal against a decision to refuse a loan.

For those waiting for their benefit claims to be processed there will be payment on account. This will still be administered by DWP.

Welfare Rights

Welfare benefits information and support is available to people who have had a social care assessment and those who receive support from other agencies.

More information on the Welfare Rights Service.

Benefits advice for those directly affected by COVID-19

Benefits Advice for those directly affected by COVID-19 – Benefits Helpline.

Benefits advice only: Telephone 01384 815002

Available: Tuesday & Thursday 9.30am - 1.00pm and 2.00pm - 4.30pm

Benefits Advice for Carers

Benefits advice for Carers on Wednesdays, by telephone: Call 01384 818723 for appointment

Section 17 payments (through Children’s Services)

Payments are issued by Dudley Council Plus Managers. Customers will be asked to identify themselves and will be handed an envelope with the money in at the front door. They will not be issued with a receipt. Social distancing will be observed during the process and Personal Protective Equipment used where available. Children's Services are looking at other ways that payments can be made including directly into people’s bank accounts

Council tax

Difficulty paying rent/council tax

Anyone who is working age should first claim help for their housing costs from Universal credit online.

Everyone should claim Council Tax Reduction online.

Experiencing difficulty in paying your rent or have concerns about meeting your future payments, contact - Dudley’s Income Team on 0300 555 0010 for help, advice and support.

Do you owe council tax, business rates or a sundry debt?

If you are experiencing difficulty or are unable to pay your Council Tax, Business Rates or a Sundry Debt, then please contact us to make a repayment arrangement - we are here to help.

For Council Tax and Business Rates please call 0300 555 8000 (Mon – Fri:  08:30 – 17:00).

For Sundry Debts please call 01384 814941 (Mon – Fri: 09:00 – 17:00).

Council tax reduction scheme

The Council Tax Reduction (CTR) schemes reduce the amount of Council Tax that low- income households have to pay to the council.

When the national Council Tax Benefit (CTB) scheme was abolished in April 2013 all councils had the freedom to design their own schemes for working age households, although the rules for pensioners remained the same.

As part of this change the funding received from the government to support these schemes was also cut.

This means the council has had to make some very difficult decisions about the amount of help it can make available to residents on low income. Over the last few years, it has become necessary to cut the level of support that the council has been able to afford.

Most working age households that receive Council Tax Reduction (CTR) will have to pay at least 23% of their full council tax liability for their property. Pensioner households receiving CTR will continue to be protected from the changes to the scheme, under government regulations.

However, some care leavers under the age of 25 could have their council tax reduced to zero.

Details on how to apply for Council Tax Reduction or report a change in your circumstances are below:

Apply for Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction

Report Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction Change of Circumstances

Housing issues

Homelessness

Information for anyone who is homeless, or at risk of losing their home.

Staff will complete a F2F referral with person over the phone and an officer will call the customer back.

Housing support services

Housing Support are providing telephone support - initial contact via duty line 01384 812504.

Sheltered Housing Service are making contact with all tenants living in DMBC sheltered housing schemes to offer reassurance and to carry out wellbeing checks.

Housing Occupational Therapy Team are supporting tenants and residents with assessments and advice over the phone whilst keeping them informed regarding any further assessments they will need to arrange, when it is safe to do so.

Housing Repairs - Housing Maintenance Team provide an emergency repairs service 24/7 to Dudley Council tenants - call 0300 555 8283

Help with energy bills

We are all spending more time at home right now into keep safe and well and to protect our NHS. This means we are using more energy in our homes. Make sure you are with the right energy supplier, on the right tariff for your home and save money with expert advice from Dudley Council’s Energy Advice Line.

We will help you:

  • Find the cheapest energy supplier for your home, getting you switched and sorted
  • Apply for energy grants, discounts and benefits for you
  • Give you guidance if you have fuel debt and help arranging repayment plans
  • Provide free home insulation and replacement boilers for qualifying home

Call Energy Advice Line for a free home energy assessment on 01384 817086

Energy companies are offering help to reduce bills. 

 

Support services

Mental health

Financial stress can have an impact on our mental health. If financial stresses are having an impact on your wellbeing, there is help and support available. Please do not suffer in silence, please access these services.

You can access these 24/7 helplines if you need to talk.

Samaritans: Tel: 116 123

Shout: Text: Shout 85258

If you are having suicidal thoughts, it is important to tell someone.

Help and support is available right now if you need it. You do not have to struggle with difficult feelings alone. If you find it difficult to talk to someone you know, you could:

Call a GP – ask for an emergency appointment

Call 111 out of hours – they will help you find the support and help you need

Contact your mental health crisis team – if you have one

The Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation mental health support helpline is available 24-7 for adults, older adults and children and young people requiring urgent mental health support during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Call 0345 646 0827, 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Press 1 if you live in Sandwell or Wolverhampton. Press 2 if you live in Dudley or Walsall.

If you have seriously harmed yourself – for example, by taking a drug overdose – call 999 for an ambulance or go straight to A&E. Or ask someone else to call 999 or take you to A&E.

More health and wellbeing support

Citizens Advice Dudley borough

Citizens Advice Dudley Borough provides free, independent and confidential information and advice on a wide range of issues. 

  • For help call our Contact Centre on 0300 3309 044 
  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday (local rate) between 9:30am-3:30pm.

Citizens Advice Dudley Borough offer a FREE Debt Advice service:

  • Call our mobile number 07799 070595 Monday to Friday between 9.30am-4pm.
  • Text “Debt” to 07799 070595 at any time with your name and contact number. Someone will contact you within two working days.

Credit Unions – Castle & Crystal Credit Union

People suffering financial difficulties due to COVID-19 may be at risk of using loan sharks. Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives that provide a safe, convenient place for members to save money and access loans and other financial services at reasonable rates.

More people in the UK are joining their local Credit Union. Credit Unions offer a local, ethical and not-for-profit alternative to high-cost lenders and loan sharks.

If you are looking for a safe place to save and access affordable loans visit Castle & Crystal Credit Union

Stop Loan Sharks Project

Anyone can be a victim of a loan shark; your family, friends, neighbours and even you. It’s not always easy to spot a loan shark as they come in all shapes and sizes and will at first appear friendly, just part of the community. It is when you can’t pay that they will turn on you.

England’s Illegal Money Lending Team are warning residents to be on their guard against loan sharks especially now, where there are those that will try to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic situation. If you or someone you know has been a victim of illegal money lending you can get support by contacting England’s Illegal Money Lending Team at:

Tel: 0300 555 2222 (local call rate, including inclusive minutes from mobiles)

DON’T GET BITTEN BY A LOAN SHARK - Text a message to 07860022116

Report a loan shark online at: www.stoploansharks.co.uk

Gambling Advice & Support

Gambling related financial harm (GRFH) can manifest in many ways and can impact not just the gambler but also their loved ones. Year on year, around 70% of callers to the National Gambling Helpline operated by GamCare, mention some level of gambling debt and/or financial hardship caused by gambling. If you need advice, you can contact these services for support:

Gamcare: Free helpline: 0808 8020 133; Live Chat at: www.gamcare.org.uk

Citizens Advice Dudley Borough gamble aware support service.

 

 

Women's resilience fund: Smallwood Trust

Smallwood Trust can provide grants and support for women on low incomes who have specific needs and are struggling to make ends meet or trying to overcome financial problems.

 

Family Fund for families raising disabled or seriously ill children

Family Fund provides grants for essential items to parents raising disabled or seriously ill children.

Further support information