Money, Bills & Benefits

Wednesday 6 May 2020

If your income is affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19), due to working less, no longer working, self-isolating, or caring for someone who is sick, you may be able to claim additional support to help you through this period. 

And if you're a Parent/carer of children and your circumstances have changed whereby you are now in receipt of certain benefits, you may be entitled to claim free school meals

You may find it useful to use an online benefit calculator, which have replaced the Benefits Adviser service, to find out what you might be entitled to. Click here to access a list of independent benefits calculator websites which are anonymous and free to use.

Advice Portsmouth

Advice Portsmouth provide advice and assistance on welfare benefits, debt, employment, housing, consumer and general family issues and are there to help residents impacted financially by the Coronavirus (COVIG-19) pandemic. 

Advice Portsmouth have made some changes to how they normally operate and are not providing their usual face to face and walk-in consultations. However, they are continuing to support Portsmouth residents across various other channels: by telephone, email, text and Facebook messenger. For anyone requiring support or interested in more information on the service…

Services are currently open Monday to Thursday 9-5pm and Friday 9-4.30pm.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a new payment introduced by central government to replace the current benefits:

  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) (income-related)
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) (income-based)
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit

Universal Credit is not usually backdated, so if you decide that you need to apply, do it as soon as possible.

With the number of claims and calls up, the Department for Work and Pensions are asking that you apply for Universal Credit online and to only call them to book your initial telephone appointment, if instructed to do so.

Your local jobcentre will call you if they’ve seen you’ve applied online but haven’t been able to get through to get an appointment yet. They’ll use your online journal to let you know they’ll be calling.

So please don’t worry if you don’t get through straight away, they will contact you as soon as they can.

If you can't manage an online account, you can apply over the phone by ringing the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644. You will need to show why you can't manage an online account. 

For more information on Universal Credits click here.


Employment and Support Allowance

The Department for Work and Pensions are advising ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) and NSESA (New Style Employment and Support Allowance) customers that they currently do not need to submit medical evidence to support their applications unless otherwise notified.

This will speed up the application process itself and reduce the amount of medical evidence requests GPs are receiving, relieving pressure through this busy period.

ESA and NSESA customers who have not yet had their medical assessment are usually required to provide medical evidence in support of their claim. However, from 30th March this requirement has been temporarily removed.

(All medical evidence deadlines will be pushed forward by 28 days. This will be reviewed and repeated as required. The situation will be reviewed monthly through this period.)

For more information on ESA and NSESA and to find out if you eligible please click here.


DWP Recovery of claimant debt suspended temporarily 

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has suspended the recovery of claimant debts until further notice. Doing this enables the deployment of DWP staff to front line roles so they can focus on getting money to those who need support the most and safeguarding vulnerable people, reducing the wider financial burden on DWP customers.

The suspension includes all benefit-related overpayments, Social Fund loans and Tax Credit debts. Many activities will cease immediately but others may take a longer to implement. The suspension of recovery action is in place until further notice with the following conditions:

  • Deductions from Universal Credit and Legacy for benefit overpayments, Social Fund loans and Tax Credit debts managed by Debt Management will be suspended.

  • The recovery of advances by deduction from Universal Credit payments will continue.

  • Local Authorities will suspend referral of Housing Benefit overpayments.

  • The transfer of Tax Credit debt from HMRC has been suspended.

  • Recovery from estates will temporarily cease.

For citizens who are not on benefits, the DWP have directed private sector debt collection agencies to stop their activity for Debt Management customers and the DWP are suspending voluntary debt repayments and recovery by Direct Earnings Attachment.

For more information please click here.  


Utility & Household bills

Switched on Portsmouth

As part of Portsmouth City Council, the Switched On Portsmouth team offer help, advice and a number of energy saving schemes, including free first-time central heating installation and emergency boiler replacement.

Click Here to find out how you could save energy and money in your home.


Aware that some of their customers’ circumstances may have changed drastically and unexpectedly due to the impact of COVID-19 utility providers understand you may need some extra help during this time. In addition to offering advice and tips on how to reduce your consumption, if you're struggling to pay your bill you might be able to adjust your payments, arrange a payment plan or even a payment break.

Council Tax

If you are having difficulties in paying your Council Tax bill, then help could be at hand. You may be able to set up a special payment arrangement that takes your financial circumstances into consideration.

Phone Portsmouth City Council on 023 9268 8588 to explore which option will be best for you.


British Gas

All customers are encourage to visit this page on their website for Latest Covid-19 Updates and FAQs.

They will not disconnect anyone on a credit meter during the coronavirus outbreak and have a range of options from debt repayment plans to hardship funds in exceptional cases if you're struggling to pay your bills.

Contact Number: 0333 202 9802 




All customers are advised to visit this page on their website for Latest Covid-19 Updates and FAQs.

If you're struggling to pay your electricity or gas bills they recommend you get in touch by calling their Debt Advice Line as early as possible.

Contact Number: 0333 009 6992




All customers are advised to visit this page on their website for Latest Covid-19 Updates and FAQs,

You can assist them by downloading the E.ON app here to manage your account and complete a lot of the tasks you might normally call them to do, which enables their contact centres to help those who need it the most.

If you’re worried about not being able to afford your next energy bill because your financial situation has changed due to Coronavirus, they will not disconnect anyone during this period for non-payment of energy bills.

For more information on how they can help click here.

Contact Number: 0345 052 0000




All customers are advised to visit this page on their website for Latest Covid-19 Updates and FAQs. 

They want to reassure credit customers that they will not disconnect you during this period for non-payment of energy bills.

If you're having trouble paying bills, let them know and they can help. Just get in contact - have your account number and an up-to-date meter reading handy.

Contact Number: 0800 073 3000 



Portsmouth Water

If you have difficulties paying, please don't delay in contacting them. They can agree a repayment amount that is affordable for you.

Contact Number: 02392 499 888




Southern Water

Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for a discount on your bill. Alternatively, you can request a three month payment break by telephone call or complete their online form here.

They also have a Priority Services Register to ensure they're looking after those who need a little extra help or who to prioritise if their water or wastewater services fail.

You can register if you have: Physical or mental health challenges, A medical conditions requiring a constant supply of water, Difficulty communicating, Reached pensionable age, A child under the age of five, Another reason you need a little help.

You can register yourself – or apply on behalf of others in your family and they are particularly keen to register customers who are currently shielding.

Registration is straight forward. Simply complete the online form here.

Contact Number: 0330 303 0277




They understand that this is a really difficult time and lots of people might find themselves unable to pay their bills unexpectedly. So if you end up struggling to pay for your energy, call them and they'll work through the options with you.

Contact Number: 0345 070 7373


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