Lockdown in Scotland has been extended until at least the middle of February in an effort to halt the spread of the new virulent strain of coronavirus.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs on Tuesday that transmission of the virus appeared to be slowing down but was still too high to ease current restrictions.

The economic impact of Covid-19 has reached almost every household across the UK with millions of furloughed workers having 80 per cent of their wages paid by the UK Government’s Job Retention Scheme.

The furlough scheme has been extended until the end of April in an effort to support businesses and prevent further job losses, and now the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), has updated its guidance for people who were receiving benefits before the Covid-19 outbreak. Below is a summary of support available.

Make sure you are aware of all the benefits available during the pandemic

Universal Credit

The DWP has confirmed that claimants will continue to get paid Universal Credit as normal during the coronavirus outbreak.

If you are working while claiming Universal Credit, your payment will be adjusted if you can no longer work due to coronavirus. The DWP advises people to tell them about the hours you are working in the usual way through your online account.

The standard allowance increased by £20 per week on April 6, 2020 to provide extra support during the pandemic, this will be in place until the end of March. Despite calls for this to be extended, a decision on this is not expected until the UK Government Budget on March 3.

This enhanced payment means a single Universal Credit claimant, aged 25 and over, currently receives £409.89 a month, instead of 317.82.

The DWP states that you must still tell them about changes to your circumstances.

Changes you need to report include:

Interviews and medical assessments

Interviews and assessments will be conducted by telephone. You should not go to a Jobcentre office unless asked to do so for an exceptional purpose, for example to collect your Payment Exception Service vouchers.

If you are self-employed and claiming Universal Credit

Since March 30, 2020, the way Universal Credit payment is worked out has changed because of Covid-19.

Payments are no longer calculated using an assumed level of earnings, called a Minimum Income Floor. They are now based on your actual earnings.

If your payments were calculated using the Minimum Income Floor, they may change.

Financial help available in Scotland

Other benefits

Your payments will not be affected if you get:

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Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit

If you are currently getting Tax Credits and you cannot work or you are working fewer hours because of coronavirus, you do not need to tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) about this change as long as you’re still employed or self-employed.

You must still tell HMRC about other changes to your circumstances - this includes if you or your partner lose your job, are made redundant or cease trading.

The basic element of Working Tax Credit has increased by £1,045 to £3,040 from April 6, 2020 until April 5, 2021.

You cannot claim Universal Credit and Tax Credits at the same time. If you get tax credits, they will stop when you or your partner applies for Universal Credit and you will be unable to claim them again - even if your Universal Credit claim is unsuccessful.

Check how Tax Credits and Universal Credit affect each other on the GOV.UK website here.