Updated: 27 April 2021
Keep updated with how the Coronavirus is impacting Universal Credit
The DWP have created a dedicated page which provides information about coronavirus and claiming benefits. Please check this page regularly for updates on the arrangements the Department for Work and Pensions is making to support those who are affected by coronavirus.
People making new claims for Universal Credit will no longer need to call the DWP as part of the process. Instead, a bolstered frontline team will proactively call claimants if they need to check any of the information provided as part of the claim.
The DWP are asking people to avoid calling if they can to free up the staff to make the calls and advise that most of their services are available online and can be accessed 24/7.
Jobcentres will remain open, as they have throughout this pandemic, to provide essential services and support to those who we cannot help in any other way, including homeless people
Jobcentres will be open from 10am to 2pm to help keep staff and customers as safe as possible in the latest phase of this pandemic. Members of the public entering a jobcentre, unless exempt, will be required to wear a face covering.
They will ensure that this support continues to be delivered in line with the latest government and PHE guidance – such as maintaining social distancing and rigorous cleaning regimes - keeping our colleagues and customers safe.
People can still make applications for benefits online if they are eligible.
Work Coaches will be empowered to support customers through the best and most appropriate channels - whether online, by phone, or in person - with jobcentres remaining open to help those who need extra support and are unable to interact with us on the phone or digitally.
Their Work Coaches will continue to deliver employment support programmes such as the Job Entry Targeted Support (JETs) scheme, by phone or through online channels.
Face-to-face assessments for disability benefits remain suspended.
If you think you might be entitled to a health and disability benefit, you should contact them as soon as possible to make a claim in the usual way.
For existing customers, payments will continue as normal. Anyone who has a change in their needs should contact them immediately so they can ensure you are receiving the correct level of support.
On 3 November 2020, they also confirmed that the suspension of the Minimum Income Floor for self-employed customers claiming Universal Credit in England, Scotland, and Wales has been extended to the end of April 2021. This means that self-employed customers on Universal Credit will receive a payment that reflects their earnings at this difficult time.
If you are already claiming Universal Credit are think you may have been affected by Coronavirus, you must contact your JCP Work Coach as soon as possible, by:
Use this GOV.UK service to find out what help you can get if you are affected by coronavirus. You can use it for yourself or someone else. You can find information about:
The DWP has confirmed that to protect vulnerable claimants during the pandemic, face-to-face Work Capability Assessments (WCAs) remain suspended.
The DWP are continuing to increase the number of assessments over the phone and increase in the number of Limited Capability for Work and Fit for Work decisions, to ensure claimants receive the correct benefit entitlement and labour market support as quickly as possible, and reduce the time those who may be entitled to a higher award have to wait for their assessment. Find out more about:
This weekend the Government announced that children and families will get extra support this winter, with local councils given new funding to ensure vulnerable households do not go hungry or without essential items.
We will provide more updates when available. You can find out more on gov.uk.
The Minimum Income Floor (MIF) for self-employed Universal Credit (UC) claimants will remain suspended until the end of April 2021, extending a vital lifeline for hundreds of thousands of people.
The further suspension means that self-employed people will continue to receive financial support from UC based on their current actual earnings. This provides additional protection for those who experience a drop in earnings due to the impact of COVID-19.
For further information, please visit GOV.UK. This support is in addition to the extension of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme announced on 2 November.
When telephone health assessments were introduced for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit (UC) earlier this year, an easement was put in place so that Fail to Attend (FTA) and Fail to Participate (FTP) actions did not take place as a result of someone not attending a scheduled telephone assessment.
This has now changed and the ESA and UC telephone assessment appointment letters will make it clear that claimants must attend their telephone appointment. FTA and FTP action will apply, e.g. benefit may be stopped (ESA) or entitlement change (UC), for those who have been issued with this letter and fail to attend or participate in their appointments without good reason.
The furlough scheme that pays 80% of the wages of people who cannot work because of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown has been extended until the end of March 2021. Plus, the next self-employed income support grant will also increase from 55% to 80% of average profits - up to £7,500. Find out more on the gov.uk website.
The DWP has announced an extension of ESA for those impacted by Covid-19. This means that ESA will remain available from day one to people with coronavirus or who have to self-isolate until 12 May 2021
The extended regulations remove the seven ESA waiting days, and treat claimants as having Limited Capability for Work without the requirement for fit notes or a Work Capability Assessment. This applies to both new style and legacy ESA new claims and ensures that support is provided as early as possible to those who are affected by Coronavirus.
Applying for ESA
Children eligible for free school meals will be offered meals or vouchers as an alternative if they can no longer attend school due to coronavirus measures
Proposals agreed to ensure vulnerable customers who may fall into debt remain supplied with energy while in self isolation.
Government announces radical package of measures to protect renters and landlords affected by coronavirus. Expired 21 September 2020.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announces £3.2 million emergency funding to help rough sleepers to self-isolate.
Don’t miss out, claim Child Benefit by phone or post (07/04/2020)
Parents of new-borns will still be able to claim Child Benefit despite the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). Even though General Register Offices remain closed for now, parents can still claim Child Benefit without having to register their child’s birth first to ensure that they do not miss out.
Support towards funeral expenses (14/04/2020)
Financial support helping families meet the costs of funeral expenses such as coffins and funeral directors’ fees has increased from £700 to £1,000. The change, announced in November 2019, came into effect on 8 April 2020. It means that the maximum amount families can claim for these type of costs will rise by 43 per cent. This payment is on top of existing allowances that pay for other funeral costs, such as burial or cremation fees.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (24/04/2020)
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is now open for applications. Employers can claim online for a grant for 80% of their furloughed employees’ salaries, up to a maximum of £2,500 per employee, per month. A simple, step-by-step guide is available for employers on GOV.UK.
Job Retention Scheme update (18/05/2020)
The Coronavirus Job Retention scheme will be extended for four months until the end of October. After July, greater flexibility will be introduced to the scheme, allowing employers to move out of it in a measured way that protects people’s incomes and helps support furloughed employees as they return to work. This will run for three months from August through to the end of October. During this period, employers currently using the scheme will have more flexibility to bring their furloughed employees back to work part time.
New Style Employment and Support Allowance online claims (24/04/2020)
You can now apply for New Style Employment and Support Allowance online, where you are not already claiming Universal Credit. Making an application online instead of over the phone should be a lot quicker. However, if you are not able to use the online service, you can continue to make an application over the phone and the normal reasonable adjustment process continues to apply for those who need it, for example using Braille or large print communications. If you have applied for Universal Credit, or are already receiving Universal Credit, you should sign in to your Universal Credit account and use your online journal to inform your work coach or case manager about applying for New Style Employment and Support Allowance.
Universal Credit claimants can now access British Sign Language interpreters as part of a free video relay service (VRS). Over the coming months VRS will be further extended into all DWP services. VRS is already available for British Sign Language (BSL) people who claim DWP disability benefits as well as Access to Work. VRS enables BSL people to contact DWP via a BSL interpreter. The customer uses a video link accessed through their own computer, smartphone or tablet. The interpreter will then speak to a DWP agent relaying the conversation by phone. There is no need for anyone to be in the same location and the customer does not have to book the service in advance. This means that the customer and DWP agent can have a telephone conversation in real time
Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme is now live (2/6/2020)
If you’re an employer with fewer than 250 employees, you can now claim for Coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). You can also speak to your tax agent about making claims on your behalf.
Concerned how COVID-19 might affect your pension? (2/6/2020)
Then read this new DWP guide for common sense information and support.
Tell Us Once service – support to help sort out a loved ones affairs following bereavement (2/6/2020)
If you have suffered the loss of a friend and family member, the ‘Tell Us Once’ service helps you inform central and local government departments, as well as a range of public sector pension schemes, alleviating the need to contact different people across a range of organisations at a time when you are most vulnerable. The Registrar can provide you with a unique reference number when you register the death or obtain an interim death certificate. You can then access the service via telephone or online.
BSL Video Relay Service (VRS) expanded to Jobseeker’s Allowance & Income Support
The DWP have rolled out VRS to Jobseeker’s Allowance and Income Support. Customers can make a call to DWP via a British Sign Language interpreter using a video connection. The service will be rolled out to more service lines later in June.
New British Sign Language (BSL) videos - coronavirus and benefit changes (15/06/2020)
DWP have produced a range of BSL videos on coronavirus and benefit changes, including new content for Universal Credit and Statutory Sick Pay.
You can view these videos on the DWP YouTube Sign channel: www.youtube.com/user/dwpsign. More Videos about Access to Work, PIP, Carer’s Allowance and Child Maintenance will be added soon.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) update (03/08/2020)
From the 1 August there were the changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) from 1 August 2020. The scheme will no longer fund employers’ National Insurance (NI) and pensions contributions. Employers will have to make these payments from their own resources for all employees, whether furloughed or not. Further information can be found on GOV.UK.
HMRC has also published guidance for anyone who has claimed too much or not enough from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Shielding and Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) update (03/08/2020)
From the 1 August, individuals who are clinically extremely vulnerable are no longer be required to shield. This means those who are unable to work from home but can work on site should do so, providing the workplace is COVID-safe.
Employers are encouraged to help their employees to transition back to work safely and support them to follow strict social distancing in the workplace.
Individuals will no longer be eligible for SSP based on being clinically extremely vulnerable.
If shielding guidance is reintroduced, either in the case of local lockdowns or nationally, and individuals receive a notification advising them to shield, they will be eligible to receive SSP again if they meet all eligibility criteria.
New Skills Toolkit courses – boost your job prospects (9/02/2020)
This week more free courses have been added to The Skills Toolkit, with topics including getting the most out of Microsoft Outlook, introductions to finance and bookkeeping and understanding how computer networks operate. The online learning platform is available to everyone and provides easy access to a selection of high-quality digital and numeracy courses, which can help you build up your skills, progress in work and boost your job prospects.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) eligibility extended to patients who are advised to self-isolate ahead of surgery and who are unable to work as a result (15/9/20)
SSP is paid from day one for employees who are sick or self-isolating due to coronavirus for 4 days or more. Where someone is advised to self-isolate for 3 days prior to surgery, and they are unable to work on the day of the surgery, they would also be eligible for SSP.
The Government has introduced the new Universal Credit (UC) welfare benefit, which replaces several existing benefits including Housing Benefit. UC will affect people who are both in and out of work, and of working age.
Although you may not be claiming benefits at the moment, you or a member of your household may have a change in circumstances.
If you’re struggling to make an online claim, contact the UC Helpline on 0800 328 5644 available Monday – Friday, 8am – 6pm.
How will I know if I am affected?
You will only be affected if you have a change in circumstances or need to make a new benefits claim and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will advise you of this.
Our charitable arm, Torus Foundation can offer you advice on making an online claim by assisting with:
The Monthly Assessment Period will commence one month from the date the claim is made*.
*Based on advice from the Government
If you’re having difficulty, don’t struggle alone. Contact our Welfare Reform Team via 0800 678 1894.