To make sure you and your family have access to all the help available to you, Citizens Advice IW have compiled a list of the most important information regarding financial support during coronavirus.

Please note: This information is correct at time of publishing and will be updated as more information is released.

*Updated 07/04/20


Making A Claim For Universal Credit

Before you make a claim for Universal Credit we urge you to contact Citizens Advice Isle of Wight. Our advisers will be able to explore all your options with you to make sure you will be getting the right support during Coronavirus.

If you have been working and you are thinking about claiming benefits, claiming Universal Credit is not your only option. It is important to understand that if you are in receipt of Working Tax Credits or Child Tax Credits that if you make a claim for UC you will never be able to go back to the old system and in most cases you will be financially worse off.

Ways to contact us

- Email [email protected] and a local team member will call you back as soon as they can.

- Contact the national Help to Claim team on 0800 144 8 444 to speak to an adviser on the telephone. Lines are open from 8am to 6pm.

- Visit the national Citizens Advice website for a webchat.


Paying Your Council Tax

If you are struggling to pay your council tax during Coronavirus, there is help available to you. 

- If you currently pay Council Tax over 10 months, you can contact the IW Council now to ask them to change this to pay over a 12 month period, or to defer your next 2 payments to Feb and March 2021. You can find their details here.

- You may be eligible for Local Council Tax Support. If you need help with your council tax, make a claim. This will not affect your eligibility for other benefits. You can find more details and how to apply here.

- As part of the Government's Coronavirus finance package, the Isle of Wight Council will receive an allocation of £1,135,756. It is intended that this money be used to provide people of a working age already receiving Local Council Tax Support during the financial year 2020-21 with a further reduction of council tax of up to £150, reducing liability to nil. 

There is no need to apply. This further discount will be given automatically to all those of working age that receive Local Council Tax. Recalculated Council Tax bills will be sent out at a later date.

- If you are unable to pay your council tax and are in Exceptional Hardship you can apply to the Council Tax Exceptional Hardship Fund.


Free School Meals

If your child is in reception year 1 or 2 your child is automatically entitled to free school meals. This has not changed even though your child is at home because of Covid-19. This is not related to your income. Contact your school to find out about getting meals/food vouchers.

If you were getting free school meals due to low income, you are still entitled to free school meals. Contact your school to find out about getting meals/food vouchers. This has not changed due to Covid-19.

If your income has changed due to Covid-19, you may now be able to get free school meals.

Your child will be entitled to free school meals if you receive:

  • Income support.
  • Income based’ jobseeker’s allowance.
  • Income related employment and support allowance.
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit.
  • Child tax credit (provided you do not receive working tax credit and have an annual income, as assessed by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, that does not currently exceed £16,190).
  • Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit.
  • Universal Credit.

Children who receive any of the above benefits in their own right (ie they get benefits payments directly, instead of through a parent or guardian) can also apply for free school meals.

To apply for free school meals, you will need to complete an Application for Free School Meals found here.


If you are pregnant or have a child under 4

If you’re pregnant or have a child under 4, the Healthy Start scheme can help you buy basic foods like milk or fruit.

If you qualify for the scheme you’ll be sent vouchers you can use in over 30,000 shops in the UK.

You can also get coupons to swap for:

  • pregnancy vitamins
  • breastfeeding vitamins
  • vitamins for children aged 6 months to 5 years old


Taking your children to school

Schools, nurseries and sixth form colleges have closed for most children. 

You can still take your children to school if you’re a ‘critical worker’. This means your job keeps an important service running, like the NHS, police or food deliveries. Check if you’re a critical worker on GOV.UK.

You should also still take your children to school if they’re considered vulnerable, for example they have:

  • a social worker
  • an Education, Health and Care Plan

If you’re not sure, check if your child’s considered vulnerable on GOV.UK.

The school will tell you if your children need to go to a different school. If the school has closed, contact your local council – find your local council on GOV.UK.

Check the government’s advice on school closures on GOV.UK.


If you need time off to look after your children

Speak to your employer. Read more about taking time off work to look after your children on GOV.UK.


Useful links 

For up to date information on school closures and other education settings click here.

If you need help maintaining your children's education during lockdown, click here.

If a child is in social care, has Alternative Health Care (EHC) plans or alternative provisions, click here.


We believe everyone is entitled to the information that affects their lives.

That’s why our charity has given independent, confidential and free advice to generations of island residents.

We want our clients to have the knowledge and the confidence they need to find their way forward - whoever they are, and whatever their problem.

In times of crisis, we're here for you. 

As our offices are currently closed to the public, the best way to contact us is on our Adviceline number:

03444 111 444

At the moment we are only answering voicemails left on the Adviceline number. This is the most efficient way we can deal with your enquiry. We are currently returning calls usually on the same day, and certainly within 1 working day.

What to do when you call Adviceline

- Call 03444 111 444 and press * to hear the other options, and then press 0.

- Please leave your details and a number that we can contact you on.

- Someone will reply as soon as they can.

* Calls to the Adviceline 03 number cost the same as calling 01/02 numbers & may be included as part of your mobile or landline call package. If you do not have a package, calls from a landline can cost up to 9p per minute. Mobiles may be considerably more expensive.

Other ways to contact us

- You can also contact us via webform  through the Isle Help website

- You can also get advice through the national Citizens Advice website where you can access webchat.

- If your enquiry is between 5pm to 8am you can leave an email. Enquiries through the national website will be answered by a Generalist Adviser from the national team.