DWP staff have been designated as key workers so that the benefits system continues and payments can be made to claimants.
Jobcentres remain open for staff to work in but the public will only be allowed in under exceptional circumstances. For example, to collect a voucher under the HM Government Payment Exception Service. Appointments, including ID verification for UC purposes, are being carried out by telephone wherever possible. Where at all possible the public are being urged to use on-line services to reduce the number of phone calls being received. Please find more information in this Press Release. Each jobcentre will have on their door a poster showing the phone numbers people can ring if they need help and cannot make their transaction on-line.
The Chancellor announced various measures last week, one of which was to increase UC and Working Tax Credits by £20 per week from 6 April 2020, when benefits were due to increase under the annual benefit uprating. This additional £20 is on top of the uprating previously announced. This will apply to all new and existing claimants.
- For UC this means that a single person aged 25 or over will see their standard allowance increase from the current £317.82 to £409.89 per month for their first full assessment period after 6 April 2020.
- For Working Tax Credits payments will be increased by £1,045 to £3,040 per year from 6 April 2020 to 5 April 2021. The amount a claimant or household will benefit from will depend on their circumstances, including their level of household income. However, the increase could mean up to an extra £20 each week.
Here is link with guidance to Understanding Universal Credit which has a specific page about Coronavirus and claiming benefits.
The NHS will be writing individually to the 1.5m citizens identified as being clinically vulnerable this week advising them of how to access support. Please be assured that the letter is genuine and the purpose is to support them. If possible, people receiving this letter should go to www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable if they haven’t done so already. It does say that “if you’re not sure whether your medical condition makes you extremely vulnerable, register anyway.” It does ask if possible for a NHS number to be provided.
People unable to work for more than seven days because of Covid-19 can now obtain an isolation note online. Please note that people who need to claim UC or ESA because of coronavirus will not be required to produce a fit note or an isolation note. Isolation notes provide employees with evidence for their employers that they have been advised to self-isolate due to coronavirus, either because they have symptoms or they live with someone who has symptoms, and so cannot work. It can be obtained online, so that people do not need to contact a doctor or leave their home. The notes can be accessed through the NHS website and NHS 111 online
- The government has agreed measures with the energy industry to support vulnerable people through Covid-19. The Press Release can be found here.
- The government has announced a package of measures to protect renters and landlords affected by coronavirus. As a result, no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time. The full Press Release can be found here.