Support and Advice relating to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Our freephone helpline is operating as usual. If you need support during these incredibly difficult times, please call us on 0800 093 8543 or complete the contact form here and we will contact you as soon as possible.

During the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic it’s wise to follow all government advice and it’s also natural to be concerned about your own health, your ability to continue working and supporting family members. Perennial is the safety net for people in the horticultural industry, here to help individuals working in, or retired from any job involving working with trees, plants, flowers and grass.  This is a time when we need to work together.

We can give advice and help you access the government support which is being put in place, help you make arrangements to reduce or delay bill payments including credit debts where necessary and provide financial assistance to cover essential items, particularly food and heating.

Last updated 7th April 2020. Please check for updates.

You will find information here to support you through these uncertain times:

  • Where to check for the latest advice on Coronavirus (Covid-19)
  • How Perennial can support you
  • Worried about your finances?
  • Looking after yourself
  • Links to organisations who may be able to offer additional support

We will continue to monitor the situation and update this information when needed.

Where to check for the latest advice on Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Latest Information and Government updates are available here.

NHS advice and steps to keep healthy is available here.

How Perennial can support you

Perennial’s help and support is free and confidential and during this difficult period we are here to help you access the statutory services and assistance you need. We will all need different types of advice and help so please call us in confidence on 0800 093 8543 or complete the contact form on the contact tab (see above) and we will get back to you. Our office hours are Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Worried about your finances?

When work suddenly stops the impact on income can be a challenge.  The government appreciates this and has put some measures in place to help get us through this difficult period. The following are reputable websites that will help you find information on various aspects, we appreciate its not always easily understood so please give our team a call on 0800 093 8543 and lets us help you understand it and how it affects you personally.

Looking after yourself

Looking after your mental wellbeing is just as important as looking after your physical and financial health, especially during uncertain times. In times of increased stress, seeking help and support from others can be a real help. If you are stressed, anxious or need a place to talk -join our online mental health community provided by Big White Wall. It is accessible anytime, anywhere. It’s important to stay connected even when we have to distance ourselves socially. Stay part of a community and access our support network  here

Other organisations who may be able to offer support.

You may also find useful links on the websites below

Parkinsons UK

Macmillan Cancer Support

British Heart Foundation

Alzheimer’s Society

Diabetes UK

Age UK

Stroke Association

Turn to Us

Mind UK

Sane UK

The Perennial Helpline can help with a range of practical advice and financial information. If you would like to contact us you can complete the form below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

We often find that we can help people more by speaking to them on the phone. If you would like to speak to a member of the team, call us free on 0800 093 8543 between 9am – 5pm Monday – Friday.

Privacy Notice 
Perennial will only share your information with third parties if it is needed to progress your application, if it is in your best interests and when we have explicit consent from you to do so. 

We use data processors who are third parties who provide services for us, with whom we have contracts in place.  This means that they cannot do anything with your personal information unless we have instructed them to do it.  They will not share your personal information with any organisation apart from us.  They will hold it securely and retain it for the period we instruct. 

Perennial may need to disclose information, if required to do so by law.  More information on this is contained in our Privacy Policy here.

Your personal information will never be sold or passed to any third party for any other purpose.

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Government advice on whether I should continue working? 

At this current time, it is important that each individual follows the current government guidelines for their own circumstancesWe understand that these are uncertain times, The Government has issued guidelines on staying at home and away from others, where there is a full section about “Going to Work” which we would advise you to follow, taking account of your own circumstances.  

The Guidance issued on 23rd March is; ‘If you cannot work from home then you can still travel to work, provided you are well and neither you nor any of your household are self-isolating. This is consistent with advice from the Chief Medical Officer’.  

Please remember that this guidance might change, so please regularly check using the links below. 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others 

If you currently work in horticulture and do need to stop working, Perennial can give information and help you access the Government support which is being put in place, help you make arrangements to reduce or delay bill payments including credit debts where necessary and provide financial assistance to cover essential items, particularly food and heating. 

I am self-employed, what support will I get from the Government? 

We understand this is a very unsettling and difficult time for self-employed people in horticultureYou can find the full guidance on the Self Employed Income Support Scheme here Gov.uk/self-employment-income-support-scheme which the Government announced on the 26th March. Please keep checking this website for the latest information.  

In the meantime, check the measures already in place to see if they can help, including deferring tax payments 

We can help you access the statutory support that is already available such as New Style Employment Support Allowance if you’re sick. Don’t forget you may be able to access financial support through Universal Credit. Universal credit is a benefit available to many who are employed, self-employed, unemployed and on low incomes (but usually not pensioners), provided you’ve less than £16,000 savings in your household.  

We can help you explore all the options that are available at present to find the support that best suits your situation.  

If you currently work in horticulture and are self employed, Perennial can give information and help you access the Government support which is being put in place, help you make arrangements to reduce or delay bill payments including credit debts where necessary and provide financial assistance to cover essential items, particularly food and heating.

What advice can you provide for carers during COVID-19?

Carers play a vital role in looking after those who are most vulnerable in our communities and COVID-19 has increased the challenges faced by many. The Social Care Institute for Excellence provides great advice for carers through an expert panel.

Helen Whately MP, Minister of State for Social Care has this advice:

If urgent care needs cannot be met, for example family carers become unwell and need to isolate, please contact your Local Authority for help.

Both Carers UK and the Carers Trust have good advice on their websites. I love the idea of a Virtual Cuppa, where people can talk about the challenges of COVID-19 as well as suggesting practical steps for how to get through it. There’s excellent advice on creating a contingency or emergency plan. Even though we are in an emergency right now, it’s not too late to start a plan. For example, you can ensure that key information is made readily available for professionals.”

How can I carry on supporting someone with dementia during COVID-19?

Paul Burstow, Chair, Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) writes:

“If you are supporting someone with dementia, the usual arrangements should still apply but it’s important to continue planning during this period of uncertainty; both with medicine – and food shopping and cooking; but also, over what activities people can take in. It’s really important that people stay active and connected with things like gentle exercises and by phone, post, email and skype. But of course, it’s vital to know what to do immediately if they do get ill, or you as a carer get ill. It’s best to leave the person the right contact numbers to call, prominently displayed, such as NHS 111 or their local GP. The Alzheimer’s Society has some excellent, detailed advice on coping with the COVID-19 outbreak.”

 

While the primary concern is health, our financial wellbeing is also important during these uncertain times 

The government is offering financial support to a number of people, but this is a fast-changing situation. You can keep up to date by following https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus. 

Perennial can help you explore all the options that are available so that you can find the financial support that best suits your situation.  

Our freephone helpline is operating as usual. If you need support during these incredibly difficult times, please call us on 0800 093 8543 between 9am – 5pm Monday – Friday.  Alternatively please complete the contact form here and we will contact you as soon as possible. 

Here’s our short guide to how you can gain help from benefits during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

 

Benefits Advice: If you are self-isolating for health reasons  

You may be entitled to benefits if you need to  stay at home and self-isolate because: 

  • You have coronavirus 
  • You have coronavirus symptoms, for example a high temperature or new continuous cough 
  • Someone in your household has coronavirus symptoms 
  • You’ve been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111 

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) 

If you are an employee who needs to self-isolate, and you are not working, you should get statutory sick pay from your employer. You can only get this if you usually earn more than £118 per week. 

You will get this from day-one of your self-isolation. People on zero hours contract can still get Statutory Sick pay if they meet the conditions.You claim Statutory Sick Pay from your employer.  

It is possible your employer may also pay you contractual sick pay, but you will need to check the terms of your employment contract. 

Click on this link to find out more information Statutory Sick Pay  (https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay)  

Employment and Support Allowance 

You may be able to get New-style Employment and Support Allowance: 

  • If you are a self-employed person self-isolating on government advice and not working, or 
  • If you are an employee self-isolating on government advice and not working and you usually earn less than £118 per week 

You will get this from day-one of your self-isolation. New-style Employment and Support Allowance is based on your national insurance contribution record. This means you will need to have been working for most of the period between April 2017 and April 2019.

People who need to claim New-style Employment and Support Allowance because of coronavirus will not have to produce a fit note.

Click on this link to find out more information NSESA.

Universal Credit 

You could get Universal Credit if you are self-isolating on government advice   

  • If you don’t qualify for Statutory Sick Pay or Employment and Support Allowance; or  
  • you need additional help on top of Statutory Sick Pay or New-style ESA. 

There is a five-week wait before you get your first payment of Universal Credit. However, you can get help from day one through a Universal Credit Advance Payment.  Advance payments have to be paid back, either out of your Universal Credit payments or, if you stop claiming Universal Credit, from your earnings.

People who need to claim Universal Credit because of Coronavirus will not have to produce a fit note.  Universal Credit is claimed online. Click on this link to find out more information Universal Credit. 

 

Benefits advice – if you are experiencing financial difficulties due to Covid-19  

Universal Credit 

Universal credit is a benefit available to many who are employed, self-employed, unemployed and on low incomes (but usually not pensioners), provided you’ve less than £16,000 savings in your household.  

Universal Credit can include help in paying your rent. Some people in receipt of tax credits or housing benefit maybe worse off by claiming Universal Credit. Seek our advice to make sure you are receiving the correct support.   

Universal Credit is claimed online. Click here to find out more information. 

Further Information 

If you would like to see what help you can get, please click here to access the gov.uk benefit calculators Benefit calculatorsAlternatively find more information at Turn2us – Turn2us 

Contact Perennial

Our freephone helpline is operating as usual. If you need support during these incredibly difficult times, please call us on 0800 093 8543 or complete our contact form here.

We provide free and confidential advice, support and financial assistance to people of all ages working in, or retired from horticulture.

Mortgage Payments

We’re pleased to see that the government has introduced a three month mortgage break for households experiencing financial difficulty due to the Coronavirus. Some banks have also promised support for loan repayments as well.  

Here are our top tips:

  • The help is not automatic so please don’t just stop paying your mortgage.
  • If your income has dropped due to the impact of the Coronavirus, contact your mortgage lender. Many lenders have dedicated phone numbers or email addresses for you to do this – visit your lenders website to find the details.
  • When you talk to your lender, explain your circumstances and ask that they allow you a three month mortgage break (they are used to this now so you should find them helpful and understanding).
  • Interest is still likely to accrue on the mortgage but banks have been asked to ensure that taking a break won’t affect your credit rating.

If the mortgage lender isn’t helpful, or you need any help or further advice, please get in touch with us and one of our team of qualified debt advisers will be there to help you.  

Paying your Rent  

We’re pleased to see that the government has introduced emergency legislation banning evictions of private rented or social tenants during the coronavirus outbreak. 

The announcement says that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period and so no renters in private or social accommodation should be concerned about the threat of eviction.  

Here are our top tips: 

  • Rent is still due, and you will have arrears at the end of the current crisis if you do not pay your rent and you will have to make arrangements to pay back the arrears.  
  • Treat your rent as a high priority bill to pay.  
  • Claiming Universal Credit may get you some help with the cost. 

If you need help with budgeting to pay your rent or advice on claiming Universal Credit, please get in touch with us and one of our team of qualified debt advisers will be there to help you.  

Gas and Electricity bills 

Energy companies have announced a number of measures to help vulnerable customers during the coronavirus outbreak. 

If you are on a prepayment meter you will receive help if you cannot get out to top up, which may include credit being sent in the post or funds being automatically added to your meter. Firms could also send somebody out to top up a prepayment meter.  

Did you know?  

  • Those struggling to pay bills will receive support and no credit meter disconnections will take place.  
  • Debt repayments and bill payments could be reassessed, paused or reduced where needed. 

Our advice is to talk to your supplierexplain that your income has dropped and ask them for help. 

If you need help with budgeting to pay fuel bills, please get in touch with us and one of our team of qualified debt advisers will be there to help you. 

Existing Debts 

If you already owe money to credit cards and other debts, lots of banks and other lenders are publishing help available on their website. If you can’t find what help is available, contact them directly and explain your situation – they should listen and offer help and advice. 

Here are our top tips: 

  • Write down all of your income and expenditure or visit our budgeting tool this will help you to see where you might be able to make some savings. 
  • Some bills are higher priority than others – eg rent or mortgage and council tax – visit the Money Advice Service to understand what bills are important and why, this will help you to deal with your priority debts first. 

If you are worried about your debts, or can’t contact your lenders yourself, contact our helpline on 0800 093 8543 and one of our team of qualified debt advisers will be there to help you.