Households have just under a fortnight left to take advantage of several Covid support schemes before they close permanently in England and Wales.
That includes the fifth self-employed Coronavirus grant and the stamp duty break, although some benefits, such as furlough and the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift are now closed to new applicants.
The measures are part of a wider government plan to get the country ‘back to normal’ – but despite rising Covid numbers, the Prime Minister and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have both confirmed the support will not be reinstated nor extended.
Ahead of the latest cuts, here’s what you need to know.
1. Fifth SEISS Covid grant closes
Self-employed Brits who have been lucky enough to take advantage of the government’s Covid grants will find it ends next month, meaning this is your final chance to get up to £7,500.
The fifth and final grant closes on September 30, so anyone eligible needs to apply asap if they haven’t already or they risk missing out.
The government has said the scheme will close in line with furlough – meaning there won’t be any further grants after this one.
But be aware that how much you get can be affected by something known as the minimum income floor.
You can use our handy benefit calculator to work out what you may be entitled to.
2. The £20 Universal Credit uplift ends next month
Despite calls for the support to be made permanent, Rishi Sunak has confirmed the £20 uplift – equivalent to £80 a month – will be cut in a phased approach from October 6.
Universal Credit payments are based on individual assessment periods – which will ultimately determine when the cut kicks in for you.
For many, this means September will be the last month they see their Universal Credit paid at existing levels.
If your assessment period ends on or after October 6, you will be paid the new lower amount of Universal Credit.
The DWP says it will update claimants’ statements and journal messages “making it clear that [the uplift] will no longer be included in their standard allowance” in the coming weeks.
Should the uplift be made permanent? Let us know in the comments below
Charity Turn2Us has previously warned that the removal of the uplift could see 500,000 people “pulled into poverty overnight” with thousands forced to food banks.
Resolution Foundation chief executive Torsten Bell said: “It’s a very bad idea to be removing the temporary uplift to Universal Credit right at the end of September.
“That’s going it exactly when unemployment is expected to rise.
“It’s taking away seven per cent of the incomes of the poorest families in Britain in the second half of this year.
“The Chancellor shouldn’t be doing that. It will also take the basic level of benefits back to levels we haven’t seen since the early 1990s.”
When the cuts kick in, claimants will lose £20 a week from their benefit payments.
The full extent of how it will affect you will be added to your online statement.
To give an estimate, here’s what you could receive from October 1 to the end of the tax year.
- Single and aged under 25: the standard allowance with the uplift will fall from £344 to £257.33
- Single and aged 25 or over: the standard allowance with the uplift will drop from £411.51 to £324.84
- Joint claimants both under 25: the standard allowance with the uplift will reduce from £490.60 to £403.93
- Joint claimants where one or both are 25 or over: the standard allowance with the uplift will fall from £596.58 to £509.91 altogether.
3. Furlough is ending
Furlough will not be extended past September, the Chancellor has confirmed, marking what will be one of the biggest cut offs for over a million workers in sectors such as aviation and tourism, where restrictions still exist.
Currently the government is paying 60% of wages up to £1,875, with employers paying 20%, plus national insurance and pension contributions.
The employer then tops their pay up to 80% of their salary – up to a maximum of £2,187.50.
The furlough scheme has been somewhat of a saving grace for many employers whilst lockdown restrictions have been in place.
However no further extension means employers will have to make internal provisions for their staff if they are unable to return to work.
If you’re worried your job could be at risk, see our guide on furlough redundancy rights, here.
4. Stamp duty will be fully reinstated
The stamp duty holiday will come to a final close at the end of September after being introduced at the height of the pandemic to protect the property market from collapsing.
Initially, the tax break applied on homes in England and Northern Ireland worth up to £500,000, however this ended on July 1.
Buyers can still benefit from no stamp duty on the first £250,000 of any primary residential property in England and Northern Ireland until September 30.
However, the full tax will be reintroduced in England and Northern Ireland on October 1.
Under the normal rate, stamp duty is applied to homes worth more than £125,000. Anything between £125,000 and £250,000 is subject to 2% tax, followed by 9% up to £925,000 and 10% up to £1.5million.
If you’re a first time buyer, you don’t pay this tax on homes worth up to £300,000. Any surplus between £300,000 and £500,000 is taxed at 5%.
Stamp duty is a tax charged when you buy a property – although it’s called “land and buildings transaction tax” in Scotland and “land transaction tax” in Wales.
5. Covid Local Support Grant
Families in England struggling with food and utility bill costs have just two weeks left to get extra help from the government.
This is because the Covid Local Support Grant will end on September 30.
This is a £429million grant government gave to councils to support families in need during the Covid pandemic.
Councils used this cash to help residents with utility bills and buying food.
The support is being provided by the central government, but it will be up to local councils to decide who gets the grants.
This means that each local authority has different criteria for applications and eligibility – they’ve also received different amounts of cash too.
You should contact your council directly to see what support they can offer you – find your local council online here.
Generally speaking, at least 80% of the total funding is being ear-marked to go towards struggling households with children.
The food element could come in the form of cash, vouchers or food boxes, with the support to be decided by the council.
See more on how to claim the support, here.