Information about Coronavirus

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£10 million to help disabled or seriously ill children in England during Coronavirus

Families with children who have complex needs and disabilities can apply for a grant from Family Fund for vital equipment to make their lives easier during the pandemic including computers, specialist equipment and educational toys.

£10 million of the total £37 million of direct support announced by the Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford today, is committed specifically in response to the unique difficulties presented by the coronavirus pandemic, helping parents educate and look after disabled or critically ill children who are staying at home more than usual.

The government hopes that this will help low-income families with seriously ill or disabled children with the cost of items they might not otherwise be able to afford.

Families who care for children with  complex needs and disabilities in England can find out more and apply for grants directly from Family Fund  - a charity that specialises in providing grants for families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people.

The grants available are typically worth £400 to £500 per family but will vary depending on need.

Vicky Ford, Children and Families Minister, said “Our first priority remains the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable children, including those with special educational needs and disabilities. I know that these unprecedented times may put additional pressure on families, particularly those whose children have the most complex needs, and these parents deserve some extra help to look after and educate them at home.

“From computers and tablets to household items that many of us take for granted, this new funding will directly benefit tens of thousands of families, making sure parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities get the support they need at this difficult time and beyond.”

Check if you are eligible to apply. Call us on 0118 966 2518 if you need help to apply.


Coronavirus (COVID-19): What you need to do

  • Stay at home
  • Only go outside for food
  • To exercise, only once a day
  • Any medical reason, such as attending a hospital appointment or to provide care for a vulnerable person
  • To travel to and from work, but only if you cannot work from home.


Download an easy read guide to Coronavirus 

Comprehensive guidance, topic by topic, can be found on the website

The website also has also Stay at Home information in other languages

Information on symptoms, what the virus does, and what to do if you think you may have it

Download an easy read guide about What Happen if I go into Hospital

Download an easy read guide about Covid-19 and Loss and Grief


Get coronavirus support as an extremely vulnerable person

Register with if you have a medical condition that makes you extremely vulnerable to coronavirus. For example, you’ll be able to ask for help getting deliveries of essential supplies like food.

If you’re not sure whether your medical condition makes you extremely vulnerable, register anyway.

You can register yourself, or on behalf of someone else.


One Reading Community Hub Support and Volunteer Line 0808 1894325

Do you need extra help during the Coronavirus outbreak - or do you want to offer a helping hand? 

A new Community Hub has been created for Reading Borough Council residents needing additional support during the outbreak for those wanting to volunteer their time or services, and for businesses who have the resources to help support the community.

If you, or someone you know is in need of extra support: One Reading Community Hub

Fill in the online coronavirus support form

or call,

0808 189 4325 (freephone) from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

Saturday: 9am - 5pm.

The One Reading Community Hub is a partnership between Reading Borough Council, Reading Voluntary Action and Reading's wide and varied voluntary and community sector.

Please only contact the Hub if you have urgent welfare needs which a family member or trusted friend cannot help you with. 

All offers of help and support are welcome from individuals, businesses and other organisations. The Hub cannot provide health advice and will direct customers to NHS 111.


Wokingham Community Support - One Front Door Service

For Wokingham Borough residents who need additional support. 

Call 0300 330 1198 or visit



West Berkshire Community Support hub

For West Berkshire residents who need additional support. 

Call 01635 503579 or visit



Oxfordshire Community Support hub

For Oxfordshire residents who need additional support. 

Call 01865 249811 Mon - Fri 8am - 5pm. Emergency cover out-of-hours.



Social Distancing

If you go out to get food or take exercise, remember to stand 2 metres (6 ft) away from other people. This is called Social Distancing. This distance is the arm span of an average adult or the length of  double bed.

Download an easy read guide to social distancing.

Keep your social distance



Changes to jobcentre appointments and Universal Credit

People receiving benefits no longer need to attend jobcentre appointments.

You will continue to receive your benefits as normal, but all requirements to attend the jobcentre in person are suspended. These changes will be in place for three months from 19 March 2020.

Anyone already claiming Universal Credit who thinks they may have been affected by coronavirus, should contact their work coach using their:

  • online journal, or
  • calling the Universal Credit helpline: 0800 328 5644.  

The standard rate in Universal Credit and tax credits will be increased by £20 a week for one year from 6 April. 

People applying for Universal Credit, Employment Support Allowance or other benefits should not go to a jobcentre but apply for them online.

Visit the Understanding Universal Credit website for more information. 


Suspension of face to face assessments for sickness and disability benefits

Face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits have been suspended.

This affects claimants of Personal Independence Payment, those on Employment and Support Allowance and some on Universal Credit, as well as recipients of Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. These changes will be in place for three months from 17 March 2020.

The suspension of face-to-face assessments also covers new claims to those benefits.


Jobcentre Plus

All Jobcentres are temporarily closed from 24 March. You can access support online at

Telephone: 0800 055 6688

Textphone: 0800 023 4888

Universal Credit Helpline: 0800 328 5644

In an emergency only, call Reading Jobcentre Plus on 0118 980 8304. They will call you back to minimise the cost to you.


£1bn package of additional support for renters

The Government has announced a package of measures to protect tenants and landlords affected by coronavirus. Renters will receive nearly £1bn additional support, through increases in the generosity of housing benefit and Universal Credit.

From April 2020, Local Housing Allowance rates will pay for at least 30% of market rents in each area.

Other measures to protect tenants and landlords include:

Emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation while this national emergency is taking place.

  • No new possession proceedings through applications to the court to start during the crisis.
  • Landlords will also be protected by extending the three-month mortgage holiday to Buy to Let mortgages.  

As a result, no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time.