Coronavirus: council service information and advice

Information about changes to council services as a result of coronavirus

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This page provides advice on work and money in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

Work and pay advice

If you have to self-isolate, you may have concerns about whether you will get paid while you are away from work, and financial support if your work ends.

Ask your employer about their policies on pay and holiday pay if your workplace closes or if you are unable to work due to childcare responsibilities when schools close. There is no legal right to pay in these circumstances, but ACAS have provided guidance.

If you are a member of a trade union, they can advise you on your rights at work. If not, visit Citizens Advice onlineAdvice Portsmouth - the drop-in centre is closed, so for advice ring 023 92794 340, text 07789 550593, email advice.portsmouth@theyoutrust.org.uk or contact via Facebook

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Read information about support available for employees through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, including what is available if you were made redundant after 28 February.

Returning to work after furlough

If you have been furloughed and are starting to plan your return to work, you can get advice and support from our Employment, Learning and Skills team. Find out more on our business advice page.

Get up to £150 extra council tax support

If you claim council tax support, you could get a further discount on this year's council tax, of up to £150. The is because of the hardship many people are suffering during the coronavirus crisis.

How does it work?

  • You don't need to do anything to get it, and it's paid whether or not you have suffered personal difficulties because of the coronavirus.
  • It's being paid by the council as part of a national scheme announced on 24 March.
  • It applies to people of working age (not old-age pensioners) who receive council tax support.
  • If your current council tax bill for 2020-21 is less than £150, then the new scheme means you won't have to pay anything. Any payment you have made already will be refunded (as long you have no arrears).
  • If your bill is more than £150, then your monthly payments will reduce to reflect the new discount.


Updated council tax bills are being sent out soon, which will include the discount.

New claimants of council tax support can also receive the discount by applying online.

If you need to contact us then you can call us on 023 9268 8588 or email localtaxation@portsmouthcc.gov.uk. We are currently dealing with a high number of requests and may not be able to deal with phone or email queries quickly. 

Scam advice

There have sadly been reports in the UK of people using coronavirus to carry out scams. Anyone who has been a victim of fraud or cybercrime can report it online at Action Fraud or call 0300 123 2040.

The latest scam involves people pretending to be from NHS Test and Trace informing you that you've been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus and advising that you need to have a test. They say that they need your card details as you have to pay for the test. This is not true.
The NHS tests for coronavirus are free. If you get a genuine email, text or call from NHS Test and Trace they will never ask you to pay for a test or for your bank/card details.

The following types of scam have also been reported, which fraudsters use to access your personal information such as passwords or bank details:

  • Doorstep scams - scammers may claim that they will help with shopping, collecting medication or cleaning drives to kill bacteria. They will then take people's money or credit card and leave without providing the service.
  • Online scams - some emails or text messages pretend to link to important information about coronavirus or useful online resources. When clicking on these links, a virus is downloaded and installed, and gives scammers full access to your data. There have been reports of messages going round that claim to be from the government or the NHS; if the links in the message don't end in ' gov.uk' or ' nhs.net', don't click on the links. Online scams can also take place on social media or messaging apps, such as Whatsapp.
  • HMRC scams - now that financial support schemes are available from the government, people may start to receive scam emails, calls and text messages claiming to be from HMRC. Messages may offer financial help in exchange for personal information such as your bank details. These messages will be scams. Don't respond, and delete the message immediately. HMRC does not ask for personal information in this way.
  • Refund scams - scammers are targeting people who have had to cancel their holidays, and offer them fake holiday refunds.
  • Counterfeit scams - some online companies are selling fake and possibly unsafe sanitizers, face masks and swab kits.
  • Telephone scams - you may receive phone calls from scammers who claim to be your bank, mortgage lender or utility company.
  • Donation scams - there have been reports of scammers claiming to be collecting donations for a coronavirus vaccine
  • Business scams - Businesses are being targeted by scammers who claim to be offering tax refunds or coronavirus relief, or demanding details for Companies House. As a precaution, avoid clicking links in emails that don't call you by your name, have poor English, are from businesses that you're not expecting to be hearing from, or ask you to download any files.
  • School meals scam - We have been informed that some parents have received an email asking for bank details for free school meals. This is a scam email and is not official. If you receive any emails like this, please don't respond and delete it immediately.
  • DVLA scams - some people have received messages asking them to click on a link to claim back overpayments on vehicle tax.

Be aware of people offering or selling

  • Virus testing kits - these should only be offered by the NHS
  • Vaccines or miracle cures - there is currently no vaccine or cure for coronavirus
  • Overpriced items to protect yourself from coronavirus, such as anti-bacterial products
  • Shopping
  • Medication collection services
  • Home cleaning services

Protect yourself and others

  • Don't be rushed into making a decision. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Take a moment to think before giving away personal information or money.
  • Don't click on a link or file unless you're 100% sure of what it is and where it came from. If it doesn't end in ' gov.uk' or ' nhs.net', it's not from the government or the NHS.
  • Don't assume that everyone is genuine. It's okay to say no or ignore requests if you're not sure. Only criminals will try to rush or scare you.
  • If someone claims to be from a charity, ask them for ID.
  • Be suspicious if people ask you to give them money before they deliver the service they're offering. If you're not sure, check with family or friends.

 

How can you avoid being scammed?

  • If you can't get out, ask family, friends or neighbours to collect any things that you need.
  • If this isn't possible, HIVE Portsmouth is working with organisations across Portsmouth to provide a coordinated community response to protect people as much as possible. If you want to know more about this support or think you may be able to help, visit  the HIVE Portsmouth website.
  • If there are people you know who can’t get online, they can call our helpline on 023 9268 8004 (staff answering this line only have the information that is available on the HIVE Portsmouth website).

    For more advice on avoiding scams, take a look at the Hampshire Constabulary and Action Fraud website. You can also sign up to receive Hampshire Alert notifications here.

    Victim Care Service

The Victim Care Service has launched a new website to ensure anyone affected by crime in Portsmouth and the rest of Hampshire can access support and advice.

The website offers tips on how to protect yourself from different types of crime and advice on what to do if you experience them. The service provides support for victims and witnesses of crime to cope with, and recover from, the harmful effects of the crime they have experienced.

The Victim Care Service is open to all victims, no matter what the type of crime, regardless of whether the crime has been reported to the police or not, and no matter how recently or how long ago the crime took place.

NHS self-isolation note

The NHS has created an online isolation note service if you need to provide evidence to your employer that you need to be off work due to coronavirus.

This service is for people who:

  • have symptoms of coronavirus and have used the 111 online coronavirus service
  • have been told by a healthcare professional they have symptoms of coronavirus
  • live with someone who has symptoms of coronavirus

If you are not sure if you need to stay at home, get the latest NHS advice on coronavirus.

If you have to stay at home but feel well enough to work, ask your employer if you can work from home. If you can work from home, you will not need an isolation note.

You can also use this service for someone else.

Visit the NHS isolation note online service

Financial support

If you are receiving:

If you are claiming Universal Credit, changes to your earned income will automatically update your monthly assessment, but if you are self-employed you must continue to provide details of your income each month.

If your employment or self-employment ends, but you have paid national insurance contributions, you may be entitled to claim contribution-based benefits:

  • 'new style' Jobseekers Allowance (if you are looking for work) or 
  • Employment and Support Allowance (if you are unable to work due to your health or disability).

    If you don't qualify for contribution-based benefits, you may be eligible for Universal Credit. If you need help to pay your rent and you are not already claiming housing benefit, or if you own your own home and need help with mortgage interest costs, you may also be eligible to claim Universal Credit.

If you claim Universal Credit, other benefits you are receiving may be cancelled, so for independent advice on whether to make a claim, contact the Citizens Advice Help To Claim service, online or by phone

Jobcentres (including Portsmouth and Cosham) currently remain open, for anyone who is not able to use the phone or online channels. No one receiving benefits will be asked to attend any jobcentre appointments for at least 3 months, starting from Thursday 19 March. 

Money advice

For free and impartial advice on money, debt and benefits, and for advice on help from foodbanks, contact:

  • Advice Portsmouth - the drop-in centre is closed. For advice, ring 023 92794 340, text 07789 550593, email advice.portsmouth@theyoutrust.org.uk  or contact via Facebook
  • Citizens Advice Help To Claim (for advice on new Universal Credit claims) - there is currently no face to face advice, so for advice ring 0800 144 8 444 or use the online webchat
  • City council tenants - ring your housing office for money advice
  • Housing association tenants - contact your customer service team for money advice

Food banks

Food banks - locations and opening times
Date/timeLocationDetails

Monday 10-11am

St. Margaret's Community Church, Highland Road, PO4 9DD

2-day food parcel

Can deliver to those unable to collect - contact us on Facebook

Monday 11am-12pm

Harbour Church, St. George's Square, PO1 3AT

Food bank voucher or email referral required

3-day food parcel

Monday, 12-2pm

Kings Church Hall, Fraser Road, PO5 4QA

Food bank voucher or email referral required

3-day food parcel

Tuesday 11am-12pm

Harbour Church, St. George's Square, PO1 3AT

Food bank voucher or email referral required

3-day food parcel

Tuesday 1-3pm

Haven Community Centre, Lake Road, PO1 4HA

No voucher needed for first 3 visits

3-day food parcel

Tuesday 5-6pm

North End Baptist Church, Powerscourt Road, PO2 7JH (side entrance in Queens Road)

Food bank voucher or email referral required

3-day food parcel

Wednesday 10am-11am

St. Margaret's Community Church, Highland Road, PO4 9DD

2-day food parcel

Can deliver to those unable to collect -  contact us on Facebook 

Wednesday 11am-12pm

Harbour Church, St. George's Square, PO1 3AT

Food bank voucher or email referral required

3-day food parcel

Wednesday 12-2pm

Kings Church Hall, Fraser Road, PO5 4QA

Food bank voucher or email referral required

3-day food parcel

Thursday 10.30am-12.30pm

Family Church Caring Hands, Empower Centre, 83-87 Kingston Road, PO2 7DX

Caring Hands food bank voucher or email referral required

3-day food parcel

Home delivery preferred

Thursday 11am-12pm and 4-6pm

Harbour Church, St. George's Square, PO1 3AT

Food bank voucher or email referral required

3-day food parcel

Thursday 12-2pm

Paulsgrove Baptist Church, Woofferton Road, PO6 4DW

Food bank voucher required

3-day food parcel

Thursday 1-3pm

North End Baptist Church, Powerscourt Road, PO2 7JH (side entrance in Queens Road)

Food bank voucher or email referral required

3-day food parcel

Friday 10am-12pm

Haven Community Centre, Lake Road, PO1 4HA

No voucher required for first 3 visits

3-day food parcel

Friday 2-3pm

North End Baptist Church, Powerscourt Road, PO2 7JH (side entrance in Queens Road)

Food bank voucher or email referral required

3-day food parcel

Friday 10-11am

St. Margaret's Community Church, Highland Road, PO4 9DD

2-day food parcel

Can deliver to those unable to collect -  contact us on Facebook 

Friday 12-2pm

Kings Church Hall, Fraser Road, PO5 4QA

Food bank voucher or email referral required

3-day food parcel

 

If you need to be referred to a foodbank, talk to your support worker (such as a health visitor or social worker), or contact a money advice service.