Advice for residents

A leaflet from the West Lancashire Partnership has been distributed to all households in the borough, providing information on what help is available to residents during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Please keep this leaflet handy and familiarise yourself with the help available and any service changes at this time.

PLEASE NOTE: Opening times for the free helpline have now been changed to Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.

West Lancs Together Leaflet

Advice on delaying July Self Assessment tax bill

People who pay their tax through Self Assessment and who pay on account can delay their next payment due in July.

Anybody who has been affected by the coronavirus and who pays their tax in this way has the option to defer (delay) their July payment until 31 January 2021.

Those who want to delay payment do not need to tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) or complete an application form. If HMRC do not receive the payment by 31 July 2020, they will automatically treat it as a deferred (delayed) payment. No interest or penalties will be charged, providing it is paid in full by 31 January 2021.

Delaying or deferring tax may not be the best option for everyone. It may be better for some to pay their tax in instalments. Guidance on GOV.​UK explains what deferral means and the options available.

Guidance: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/defer-your-self-assessment-payment-on-account-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19

Advice regarding Council Tax

People will understandably be concerned about paying their bills during the current Coronavirus pandemic. We know that loss of income may leave many residents struggling to pay key bills such as Council Tax. We are looking at how money from the government's national £500m support fund will be allocated and how quickly it will be made available. For more information please visit our Help with Council Tax page.

Advice for Council tenants on rent

We do not want you to worry about paying your rent and while your rent will continue to be charged, we can talk to you about changing your payment plans if your loss of income has left you struggling to make your rent payments as a result of the outbreak.

We have a team of staff available to provide advice and maximise your income at this time.

Get in touch with the Financial Inclusion Team on 01695 585252 or email incometeam@westlancs.gov.uk to find out more.

Advice for parents

Schools can now provide children eligible for free school meals with a weekly shopping voucher worth £15 to spend at supermarkets while schools are closed due to coronavirus. Read more on the government website (external link).

Advice for private tenants, landlords and homeowners

The government has announced a radical package of measures to protect renters and landlords affected by coronavirus. As a result, no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time.

Please visit the Complete ban on evictions and additional protection for renters (external link) for more information.

Mortgage lenders have also agreed they will support customers that are experiencing issues with their finances as a result of Covid-19, including through payment holidays of up to 3 months. This will give people the necessary time to recover and ensure they do not have to pay a penny towards their mortgage in the interim.

Please visit government website (external link) for more information.

Managing your money

Get help paying the bills during Coronavirus

  • Help you if you’re self-employed and are in self isolation
  • Help from the West Lancs voluntary community

Help is available if you are finding it difficult to pay your bills during the current pandemic. Whether it’s the rent, water or gas bill, or you need help claiming Universal Credit, there is support here to help.

If you need help with:

  • making a claim for housing benefits, council tax support, and discretionary housing payments
  • paying water and fuel bills
  • claiming Universal Credit (UC)
  • paying rent (to private landlords) or a mortgage
  • homelessness issues
  • credit card payments, payday loans, bank charges and bank loans and charges
  • advice on what to do if you’re in self-employment for full time employment and are not currently not working.

Let us know what you need on the West Lancs Together Support Form.  Alternatively, call West Lancs Together on 0800 616667, daily from 9am-5pm.

Please be patient if you can’t get through to the team straight away. We are doing our best to help as many people as possible and will be available to talk to you shortly.

Food Bank Update

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in Ormskirk Food bank and Skelmersdale Food bank altering the system for access to emergency food for those who are unable to afford to buy their own. The priority is to ensure the safety of people requiring food and the volunteers working at the warehouse and distribution centre.

Ormskirk Food bank are running a delivery service on Tuesdays and Fridays for clients who are referred to them. Please go to our website here for details of agencies that can make e-referrals or call Ormskirk Food bank on 07748 951274.

Skelmersdale Food bank are running a delivery service on Monday morning, Wednesday morning and Thursday morning for clients who are referred to them. Please go to our website here for details of agencies that can make e-referrals or call Skelmersdale Food bank on 07989052832.

Help for people Self-isolating - The Birchwood Centre

"Self-isolation doesn’t have to mean social isolation. We are here to support and help if you are self-isolating or experiencing social isolation due to coronavirus."

The Birchwood Centre will be available to help if you are in need of support, with volunteers on hand to help with things such as picking up medication and essential items, or if you just need someone friendly to talk to. Don't hesitate to get in touch via their contact details below.

Email
Website
Facebook
Twitter

Tel: 01695 713248
Text: 07706 750187

Information about Lancashire County Council Household Waste Recycling Centres

Lancashire County Council will begin re-opening Household Waste recycling centres sometime next week, however people will need to book an appointment before visiting.

The County Council's waste team is currently working to reconfigure the sites so they can operate while maintaining social distancing, and will announce details next week of exactly when the sites will reopen, and how the booking system will work. It is likely that bookings will be done via the Lancashire County Council website (external link) or their customer services centre on 0300 123 6701.

Government launches Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp

The UK Government has today launched a new free to use GOV.UK Coronavirus Information service on WhatsApp to provide official, trustworthy and timely information and advice about coronavirus (COVID-19), and will further reduce the burden on NHS services.

The GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service is an automated ‘chatbot’ service which will allow the British public to get answers to the most common questions about coronavirus direct from government to help combat the spread of coronavirus misinformation in the UK, as well as helping ensure people stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.

To use the free GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp, simply add 07860 064422 in your phone contacts and then message the word ‘hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started. A set of menu options is then presented which the user can choose from and then be sent relevant guidance from GOV.UK pages as well as links to GOV.UK for further information.

Age Concern Central Lancashire - Coronavirus Helpline

Age Concern Central Lancashire, who routinely support older people with long-term health conditions and through specialist dementia care and support, has launched a Coronavirus helpline in order to reach greater numbers of older people.

We are encouraging older people, their carers, businesses, professionals and health workers within the county to make referrals through the Coronavirus helpline - 01772 552 850 option 0 or via their COVID-19 Referral (external link) website during the outbreak.

More Positive Together 

West Lancashire Borough Council operates an 1:1 employment mentoring service called More Positive Together - which works in a number a different ways to help people remove barriers to employment through; training, volunteering, education, work experience, employment coaching and building individual confidence.

To qualify you must be a West Lancashire resident and be in receipt of Unemployment Benefit or inactive from the job market. If you would like to find out more please visit the More Positive Together (external link) website, call 01695 712598 or email MPT@westlancs.gov.uk and one of the team will get back to you for a chat.

The Royal British Legion - Coronavirus Support

The Royal British Legion are still here for our Armed Forces Community and have adapted their specialist services for COVID-19; their Benefit, Debt, and Money advice service is offering income maximisation support, their Admiral Nurses are providing telephone support across the whole country, and they have also have their telephone buddy volunteers.

They do require some proof of service, such as certificate of service or discharge and eligibility for their support is listed here - https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/get-support/who-we-help

Anyone who meets the eligibility and may benefit from their support can access it by calling 0808 802 8080

Banking - Coronavirus Telephone Support for 70+

A number of major banks have launched a telephone service dedicated to customers aged 70 or over.
• Bank of Scotland: 0800 0859179. Lines open from 8am to 6pm, 7 days a week.
• Halifax: 0800 0859137. Lines open from 8am to 6pm, 7 days a week.
• Lloyds Bank: 0800 056 0045. Lines open from 8am to 6pm, 7 days a week.
• NatWest: 0800 051 4176. Lines open from 8am to 6pm, 7 days a week.
• Royal Bank of Scotland: 0800 051 4177. Lines open from 8am to 6pm, 7 days a week.

Tax credit payments

The government has confirmed that those working reduced hours due to coronavirus or those being furloughed by their employer will not have their tax credits payments affected if they are still employed or self-employed.

There is no need to contact HMRC about this change. HMRC will treat those applicable as working their normal hours until the Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme close, even if they are not using either scheme.

The announcement: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tax-credits-customers-will-continue-to-receive-payments-even-if-working-fewer-hours-due-to-covid-19

Support bubble guidance 

As outlined by the Prime Minister in his statement earlier this week, from Saturday 13 June, single adult households will be able to form a “support bubble” with one other household. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has published guidance setting out how the public can see people that they do not live with while protecting themselves and others from coronavirus. 

The guidance provides advice on making a support bubble with another household and outlines key principles the public should follow when outside their home. It also provides advice on a range of issues when meeting outdoors.

You can find the full guidance here: https://bit.ly/SupportBubble.

Community FAQs

The Lancashire Resilience Forum and Lancashire County Council have created a helpful Community FAQs. Please visit their our Community FAQs page (external link) for more information.