Guidance on the crisis
Guidance on the crisis

We last updated this information on 25 March 2020. Please note that whilst we update this page regularly, information is subject to change.

Key national sites for information:

NHS Covid-19 updates can be found here

Government advice on protecting yourself and others can be found here

If you’re not a key worker you should stay at home.

Cat would like to emphasise how important it is to follow these instructions. Doing so will prevent unnecessary deaths.

Medical experts say you should only go out if you really have to or to get food supplies.

Following the statement by the Prime Minister on Monday 23 March, the Government has introduced three new measures requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes; closing non-essential shops and community spaces and stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public.

Further information is available here

We must work together to beat the coronavirus. If you stay at home you are helping our NHS to save lives. If you go out unnecessarily you are helping to spread the virus. 


The schools were closed on 20 March 2020.

Provision is only for the children of key workers and vulnerable young people.

Information on school closures and “key workers” is here

The Department for Education Coronavirus Helpline is 0800 046 8687

Food and essential supplies:

Government guidance is clear – there is no need to stockpile. Doing so will put other people’s lives at risk. Shops are now rationing essential goods. Please respect staff who are attempting to look after customers under very trying circumstances.

What support is available to my business?

During the budget certain measures were announced to support businesses affected by Covid-19. These were revised by the chancellor on the 17 March who pledged £330bn of government-back loans and guarantees. The chancellor has said that for smaller businesses in that sector, who don’t have insurance, cash grants of £25,000 will be provided.

Government information can be found here

For detailed guidance and answers from The Confederation of British Industry here

If you are a business who needs any help or advice please call the Business Support Helpline – telephone: 0300 456 3565 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)


Government guidance for small businesses can be found here

Support if you’ve been laid off:

Your employer might be able to ask you to stay at home or take unpaid leave if there’s not enough work for you. A lay-off is if you’re off work for at least 1 working day. Short-time working is when your hours are cut.

Can my employer “lay me off” / put me on short-time?

Unite the union says this is determined by your existing contract of employment. Check your contract to see if there is a provision in it allowing your employer to do this – and, if so, if it is with or without pay. Lay offs and short-time working can also be facilitated by collective agreement as an alternative / attempt to prevent permanent job loss through redundancy. If your contract does not provide for this, and there is no collective agreement your employer needs to get your agreement to do this. Many employers will be looking to do this at the moment to protect jobs in the longer term.

You will need to think through the immediate impact of loss of wages in the balance with the attempt to protect jobs longer term.

What if there isn’t a provision allowing them to lay me off or put me on short-time and I don’t agree to it?

If your contract does not have a clause allowing your employer to lay you off or put you on short-time you might, potentially, have an unlawful deduction from wages claim. You need to be aware that if you do have such a claim this is heard at the Employment Tribunal and will not be a quick process especially in the current situation. You will need to take specific advice from your union if you are in one as there is a very specific process you must follow with very tightly defined time limits for lodging your claim (3 months less one day from the date of the deduction).

There is no limit to how long you can be laid off or put on short time working. You could apply for redundancy and claim redundancy pay if it’s been:
4 weeks in a row
6 weeks in a 13 week period
Write to your employer to claim redundancy within 4 weeks of the last day of the lay-off or short-time period.
Your employer has 7 days to accept your claim or give you a written counter-notice.
If your employer does not give you counter-notice, you can assume they’ve accepted your redundancy
A counter-notice means your employer expects work will soon be available – it must start within 4 weeks
and must last at least 13 weeks.
Your employer can withdraw their counter-notice in writing.

You must resign to get redundancy pay. The timing is crucial – you have 3 weeks to hand in your notice, starting from:
7 days after you gave written notice to your employer (if you did not get a counter-notice)                                                                        the date your employer withdrew their counter-notice

You should get your full pay unless your contract allows unpaid or reduced pay lay-offs. Please see above for where the contract does not allow for non-payment but your employer enforces this. If you are not paid you can claim:

Guarantee pay

You’re entitled to guarantee pay during lay off or short-time working. The maximum you can get (as at 18 March
2020) is £29 a day for 5 days in any 3-month period – so a maximum of £145.
If you usually earn less than £29 a day you’ll get your normal daily rate. If you work part-time, your entitlement is
worked out proportionally.
You must:
have been employed continuously for 1 month (includes part-time workers)
reasonably make sure you’re available for worknot refuse any reasonable alternative work (including work not in your contract)
not have been laid off because of industrial action
you must not have worked any part of a day on which you are claiming for

If your employer pays then the level set must not be below the statutory level. You will not be able to claim the statutory payment on top of your employers pay.

Benefits you can claim

You might be able to get Universal Credit or new style Jobseeker’s Allowance whilst laid off or on short time. The Government is making frequent announcements on help for workers in the current situation. For the most up to date information please contact your Job Centre.

On Friday 20 March the government announced additional support for people in work when instructing bars, pubs and restaurants to shut or only provide takeaway facilities. Further details to follow.


Cat has been lobbying government hard to provide a comprehensive package of support for self-employed workers and small businesses.

At present there is still nbo provision for those who are self-employed.

Contact HMRC here 0800 0159 559.

If you or a family member is overseas:

Government guidance on this can be found here

Cat is helping a number of constituents who are currently abroad, and providing assistance to their families. If you know someone who is already overseas and is stranded, you can find consular support here

If you believe you have coronavirus:

If you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started.

If you live with others and you or one of them have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days.

NHS guidelines on self-isolation can be found here

Government guidelines can be found here

If you are over 70:

Current government guidance states that all over 70s, regardless of medical condition, should carry out social distancing measures until further notice.

Government information on this can be found here

Mental health and listening support:

Lancashire Volunteer Partnership have started a telephone befriending service for anyone needing support during this time.

Please use the link below if someone needs referring or they can call between 8 and 4pm.

East Area – Blackburn, Burnley, Pendle, Rossendale, Hyndburn, Ribble Valley

  • 07779972114
    • 07779972652

South Area – Preston, West Lancashire, South Ribble, Chorley

  • 07816446117

West Area – Blackpool, Lancaster, Morecambe, Wyre and Fylde

  • 07816446630

Mental health charity, Mind has some guidelines here

The Samaritans has information here:

The NHS has some guidelines here

Contact me:

I know these next few months are going to be difficult but I want to reassure you that myself and my team are still working on behalf of all constituents and if you have anything you want to raise with me please call the office on 01253 490440  or email me via You can also follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

I’d like to stress that the overall risk to the general public remains low. The vast majority of people who catch the virus will only ever suffer from a mild-to-moderate illness with similar symptoms to the flu.

There are now on-line support groups specifically for people in all areas across the constituency so please look on Facebook for ways in which you can help or receive help – again if you need more information please call my office.

I’d also like to put on record how grateful I am to all the staff in the NHS – clinicians, cleaners, porters, the WRVS – all the teams who are going to face some of the toughest times of their working lives. Teachers, care home workers, police, food producers, drivers, deliverers, bank workers, postal workers are just some of the critical groups who will help us all get through this and all of us are hugely appreciative. I know the last day of school was really emotional for many of our youngsters who haven’t had time to prepare for this big change. I wish all parents much love and luck as we attempt to keep the kids grounded and happy over the coming weeks.

I know older people are often reluctant to ask for help often because they wrongly believe they are being a burden. Please make the most of the amazing help there is in the community – don’t suffer in silence.

I send you all my very best wishes. Please try and stay positive.

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