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Universal Credit Guide Finder

Information about Universal Credit can be found on GOV.UK. There are lots of detailed guides covering specific topics which provide additional information to help claimants, landlords, stakeholders and advisers who support claimants.

It’s not always easy to find the information you need, so we’ve published a ‘Universal Credit guide finder’ which provides links to all the current guidance available to make it easier for you.

You can find it on the first page of the Helping someone claim section on the Understanding Universal Credit website.

Coronavirus Update

A DWP spokesperson said:

“We understand people who are required to stay at home or are infected by Coronavirus may need financial support, and quickly.

“Those affected will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance up front without physically attending a jobcentre.

“If you believe that you may have been infected, or have been in close contact with someone who has, please do not delay making a claim to Universal Credit. You should stay at home and apply at the earliest opportunity.”

Moving forward we will be looking into how we can best support people without the need for them to come into the jobcentre.

Face-to-face health assessments for benefits suspended amid coronavirus outbreak

Claimants on disability benefits will no longer be required to attend face-to-face assessments. This change also covers health checks for Universal Credit.

Face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits will be suspended for the next three months, the Government announced earlier in the week.

The temporary move, effective on Tuesday, is being taken as a precautionary measure to protect vulnerable people from unnecessary risk of exposure to coronavirus as the country’s response ramps up in the ‘delay’ phase. We will ensure those who are entitled to a benefit continue to receive support, and that new claimants are able to access the safety net.

It affects claimants of Personal Independence Payment; those on Employment and Support Allowance and some on Universal Credit; and recipients of Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.

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

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said:

“As we move into the next phase of our response to coronavirus, it is right we take steps to protect those with health problems.

“Temporarily suspending face-to-face assessments for sickness and disability benefits will allow us to ensure we continue to provide a safety net for those in need, while removing unnecessary risk of exposure to this disease.”

Anyone who has a face-to-face assessment appointment scheduled from Tuesday 17 March onwards does not need to attend and will be contacted to discuss next steps and alternative arrangements, which could involve either telephone or paper-based assessments. We expect this measure will be in effect for the next three months but we will be regularly reviewing the position in line with Public Health advice.

No further action is required by any claimant as a result of this change. They will be contacted with advice on next steps.

Suspending face-to-face health assessments is a precautionary measure which reflects the Prime Minister’s decision to trigger the ‘delay’ phase. It is important to note that this change does not affect or change any existing public health advice. The current NHS guidelines on Coronavirus, including advice on those who should stay at home can be found here.

Coronavirus support for employees, benefit claimants and businesses

A range of extra support and measures will be in place to help workers, benefit claimants and businesses affected by coronavirus.

Following announcements in the Budget, the Department for Work and Pensions is making temporary arrangements to support those impacted by coronavirus.

For people already claiming support

Special arrangements will be in place for people in receipt of benefits who cannot attend reassessments or jobcentre appointments because they are required to stay at home or are infected by coronavirus.

  • Disabled and sick claimants who cannot attend a reassessment for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit will continue to receive their payments while their assessment is rearranged.
  • People who need to claim ESA or Universal Credit because of coronavirus will not be required to produce a Fit Note.
  • When claimants tell us in good time that they are staying at home or that they have been diagnosed with coronavirus, they will not be sanctioned.  We will review their conditionality requirements in their claimant commitment, to ensure they are reasonable.
  • Claimants who are staying at home as a result of coronavirus will have their mandatory work search and work availability requirements removed to account for a period of sickness.

For people who need to make a new claim for financial support

We understand people who are required to stay at home or are infected by coronavirus may need financial support, and quickly.

  • Those affected by coronavirus will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance up front without physically attending a jobcentre.
  • The seven waiting days for ESA for new claimants suffering from coronavirus or required to stay at home will not apply, so it will be payable from day one.

Employees and self-employed people

To make sure people in work can take the necessary time off to stay at home if they are suffering from coronavirus or to prevent its spread, changes have been made to Statutory Sick Pay and how Universal Credit supports self-employed claimants.

  • People who cannot work due to coronavirus and are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of their illness. We intend to legislate so this measure applies retrospectively from March 13.

  • Statutory Sick Pay will be payable to people who are staying at home on Government advice, not just those who are infected, from 13 March after regulations were laid on 12 March. Employers are urged to use their discretion about what evidence, if any, they ask for.

  • If employees need to provide evidence to their employer that they need to stay at home due to coronavirus, they will be able to get it from the NHS 111 Online instead of having to get a Fit Note from their doctor. This is currently under development and will be made available soon.

  • Self-employed claimants on Universal Credit who are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus will not have a Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) applied for a period of time while affected.

Businesses

The Government wants to ensure businesses are supported to deal with the temporary economic impacts of an outbreak of coronavirus.

  • Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay for employees unable to work because of coronavirus. This refund will be for up to two weeks per employee.

 

Legal Bulletin for Employers (Courtesy of Gowling LLP)

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