News

Your benefits and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Here's the latest information from the DWP about how Corona Virus may affect your benefits:

Working Age Benefits:            

I have been advised to self-isolate and my employer has confirmed they will not pay me Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Can I claim any benefits?              
You may be able to apply for Universal Credit and / or New Style Employment and Support Allowance Please visit GOV.UK for eligibility and how to claim.

Normal Conditions of Entitlement apply for each benefit:

Universal Credit

· If claimant requires housing related costs or has dependent children you should consider applying for UC, conditions apply: details here online

NS ESA

· Worked as an employee or been self-employed and paid enough National Insurance contributions in the last 2 to 3 years: National Insurance credits also count

Making a new UC claim: Details of how to apply for Universal Credit can be found here  

Reminder to Customer: Do not visit your jobcentre to make a claim

Making a new NS ESA claim: To apply for New Style Employment and Support Allowance, call us on:

·Telephone: 0800 328 5644 (choose option 2)

· Please remember to tell us that you have been diagnosed or are self-isolating

(Reminder to Customer: Do not visit your jobcentre to make a claim) 

No medical evidence is required from the doctor to make the claim for UC and / or NS ESA, as the claimant will be treated as having a Limited Capability for Work for the period you have coronavirus or have been advised to self-isolate.

Please note: Claimants cannot apply for NS JSA, if they are self-isolating (classed as being sick from the outset):  they must be directed to UC and / or NS ESA, depending on their circumstances. No medical evidence is required from the doctor to make the claim for NS ESA and / or UC, as the claimant will be treated as having a Limited Capability for Work for the period you have coronavirus or have been advised to self-isolate.

(Reminder to Customer: Do not visit your jobcentre to make a claim) 

 My child’s school has been closed because of coronavirus COVID-19, I cannot go to work and my employer won’t pay me. Can I claim any benefits?         
You may be eligible for Universal Credit or New Style JSA or both. You can apply for either or both of these benefits online at GOV.UK. Universal Credit is means-tested. Eligibility depends on your personal circumstances, including, where appropriate, those of any partner, spouse or civil partner who live in the same household. Universal Credit covers additional costs such as housing. New Style JSA is a personal benefit.  It isn’t means-tested and doesn’t take your partner’s circumstances, income or savings into account. To be eligible, you will normally need to have paid a relevant amount of National Insurance contributions as an employee in the last two tax years. 

 

I have been advised by the Government/NHS to stay at home because I have an underlying medical condition/pregnant and elevated risk of infection so I can’t work. Can I claim any benefits?        
You may be eligible for Universal Credit or New Style JSA or both. You can apply for either or both of these benefits online at GOV.UK. Universal Credit is means-tested. Eligibility depends on your personal circumstances, including, where appropriate, those of any partner, spouse or civil partner who live in the same household. Universal Credit covers additional costs such as housing. New Style JSA is a personal benefit.  It isn’t means-tested and doesn’t take your partner’s circumstances, income or savings into account. To be eligible, you will normally need to have paid a relevant amount of National Insurance contributions as an employee in the last two tax years.

 

I have been made temporarily redundant (not ill), what benefits can I claim?         
You may be eligible for Universal Credit or New Style JSA or both. You can apply for either or both of these benefits online at GOV.UK. Universal Credit is means-tested. Eligibility depends on your personal circumstances, including, where appropriate, those of any partner, spouse or civil partner who live in the same household. Universal Credit covers additional costs such as housing. New Style JSA is a personal benefit.  It isn’t means-tested and doesn’t take your partner’s circumstances, income or savings into account. To be eligible, you will normally need to have paid a relevant amount of National Insurance contributions as an employee in the last two tax years.

You should also speak to your employer about the coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and whether they can offer any support through this. 

 

Will I be able to get help with my rent and council tax?  
If you are eligible for Universal Credit this will include support for housing costs. If you are on a low income you may be able to apply for help directly from your local Council. You will need to phone them to ask about the help available to pay your rent and council tax.

Reminder to Customer: Do not visit the council office if you have a confirmed diagnosis of coronavirus COVID-19, have been told to self-isolate or are self-isolating due to suspected coronavirus symptoms.

 

I’m self-employed but not able to earn any money because of the coronavirus outbreak, what should I claim?    
You should go online to claim Universal Credit. You may also get help from HMRC’s Self-employment Income Support Scheme .

HMRC will contact you when the scheme is operational.
The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant. The scheme will be open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000. The scheme will be open for an initial three months.  

 

I’ve heard about some changes in the budget what are these?     
A range of measures have been introduced to support people affected by coronavirus.

· For people affected by coronavirus or self-isolating New Style Employment and Support Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance will be payable from day one of their claim, rather than the eighth day, as we are removing the seven waiting days for those customers.

· As  people are unable to attend an office due to current  restrictions  they will be able to claim Universal Credit without the  requirement to attend a jobcentre. Please visit gov.uk for eligibility and how to claim.

· Face to Face PIP reassessment and Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit Work Capability reassessments have been suspended for the time being. We will continue to pay benefit and an SMS Text Message and cancellation letter will be issued to all claimants who have an WCA appointment already arranged. We will contact claimants shortly to explain the next steps. 

 

I am due to attend a Work Capability Assessment: do I need to attend?      
If you already have a face to face assessment appointment arranged with us, you do not need to attend.  You will get a SMS text message and/or a cancellation letter about this. We will then contact you to let you know what will happen next. 

We have temporarily suspended all face-to-face assessments for health and disability-related benefits. This is to reduce the risk of exposure to coronavirus and safeguard the health of individuals claiming health and disability benefits, many of whom are likely to be at greater risk due to their pre-existing health conditions. 

 

I attended a Work Capability Assessment on DATE, when will I get a decision?  
Due to current circumstances, it is taking us longer than normal to make decisions. We will be in contact with you as soon as we are able. In the meantime, your benefit payment will continue as normal.

 

I attended a Work Capability Assessment on DATE, I have a worsening condition and expected an increased benefit payment following my assessment but I still haven’t heard anything?   
Due to current circumstances, it is taking us longer than normal to make decisions. I will let the person handling your claim know you have been in contact and they will be in contact with you as soon as they are able. In the meantime, your benefit payment will continue as normal.

New Style and Legacy Benefits:               

I have an appointment with my work coach / at the Jobcentre. What do I need to do?       
From 19th March, all Jobcentre appointments with claimants are suspended for three months. This includes weekly and fortnightly work search reviews in JSA and ESA (new style and legacy) and IS work-focussed interviews

If you have an appointment scheduled, you should not come into the office and your benefit payment will continue as normal. We will contact you when you need to come back in.

 

I’m not able to make a claim for IS/JSA/ESA/NS ESA/NS JSA over the phone or online e.g. I’m Homeless   
Where possible you should ask a partner, friend, support worker to help. In very exceptional circumstances, if you cannot make a claim over the phone or online, Jobcentres remain open and can support you to apply for benefits.  

 

I have been advised to self-isolate and I am already claiming NS JSA:   
For those customers already on NS JSA: You do not need to apply for another benefit. Please contact your work coach as soon as possible (Do not visit the jobcentre) and advise them of your circumstances and request that you are placed on an Extended Period of Sickness (EPS).

If they don’t have a direct number for their jobcentre / work coach ask the claimant to phone (or handover to) the Jobcentre Enquiry Line (0800 169 0190).    

 

I have been advised to self-isolate and I am already claiming Income Support:      
For those customers who are already claiming IS: You will continue to get your Income Support payments. You do not need to claim another benefit. We have suspended Jobcentre appointments for the time being and you will not be asked to attend.   We will be in touch when you need to come back in. If you have any questions on your claim and are self-isolating, please contact the IS enquiries line on 0800 169 0310 (Do not visit the jobcentre).

 

I have been advised to self-isolate and I am already claiming ESA or NS ESA:        
For those customers who are already claiming ESA/New Style ESA:  Your benefit payments will continue. You do not have to provide any medical evidence for the period you have coronavirus COVID-19 or have been advised that you need to self-isolate due to coronavirus COVID-19 as you will be treated as having a Limited Capability for Work.  After 28 days you will need to contact us again on this number (BEL) to advise of your situation for example, whether your isolation has ended, you have become or continue to be ill, to make sure you are paid correctly. You may receive an automated letter asking for medical evidence. If you do you can ignore the letter. 

 

I recently applied for New Style JSA. When will I get my payment?           
We are experiencing a high volume of claims at the moment and are doing everything we can to process claims quickly. We will contact you as soon as possible, you do not need to contact us again.   

 

Do I need to provide any medical evidence/ Statement of Fitness for Work?   
You do not have to provide any medical evidence for the period you have coronavirus COVID-19 or have been advised that you need to self-isolate due to coronavirus COVID-19 as you will be treated as having a Limited Capability for Work.  After 28 days you will need to contact us again on this number (BEL) to advise of your situation for example, whether your isolation has ended, you have become or continue to be ill, to make sure you are paid correctly. You may receive an automated letter asking for medical evidence.  If you do you can ignore the letter. 

 

I have received a letter to remind me to send in Statement of Fitness for Work (Fit Note) but I was advised that I would not have to provide one? What do I need to do?    
This is an automated letter. If you have a confirmed diagnosis of / been advised / need to self-isolate due to coronavirus COVID-19 you do not currently need to submit medical evidence for that period as you will be treated as having a Limited Capability for Work. I am sorry if this has caused you any concern.

 

I am currently receiving New Style Employment and Support Allowance and have been advised to self-isolate. My medical evidence has expired, what do I need to do?            
You do not have to provide any medical evidence for the period you have coronavirus COVID-19 or have been advised that you need to self-isolate due to coronavirus COVID-19 as you will be treated as having a Limited Capability for Work.  After 28 days you will need to contact us again on this number (BEL) to advise of your situation for example, whether your isolation has ended, you have become or continue to be ill, to make sure you are paid correctly. You may receive an automated letter asking for medical evidence. If you do, you can ignore the letter. 

 

I am unable to return my / the person I am appointee for, ESA50 form/medical questionnaire within the time limit as I am in self-isolation. What should I do?      
I will let the person dealing with your claim know that you are unable to return the ESA 50 questionnaire. You should return the form to the address on the letter you have received, as soon as you are able to. Your benefit payment will continue as normal.

We will then contact you to let you know what will happen next. 

 

I have an appointment with Jobcentre for my new claim what do I need to do/what will happen about my new claim appointment.    
From 19 March, all face to face Jobcentre appointments with claimants are suspended.  If you have a new claim appointment booked, we will contact you at that time by telephone instead to go through your claim.

 

How do I change my telephone appointment?         
You should contact the Jobcentre Enquiry line on: 0800 169 0190.

 

I didn’t receive a telephone new claim appointment?          
You should have been provided with telephone appointment details when you made your claim. If you do not have these, please contact the Jobcentre Enquiry line on: 0800 169 0190.

Universal Credit Specific   

I have an appointment with my work coach / at the Jobcentre. What do I need to do?     
All face-to-face appointments in the Jobcentre have been suspended and any appointment you have booked will be conducted over the phone. You do not need to contact us. Your work coach will contact you.

 

I have an appointment with Jobcentre for my new claim what do I need to do/what will happen about my new claim appointment?    
From 19 March, all face to face Jobcentre appointments with claimants are suspended.  If you have a new claim appointment booked, we will contact you at that time by telephone instead to go through your claim.

 

The Jobcentre is closed so I cannot take in evidence and my payment is blocked, what do I do?     
I’ll take the details needed over the phone in order to clear your payment.

 

I left the UK before the 17 March and I’m unable to return because of coronavirus travel restrictions and will surpass the month that I am allowed to be absent from the UK, what do I do?   
As these are exceptional circumstances your Universal Credit payment will not be affected. You should endeavour to return to the UK as soon as it is safe to do so. 

 

I have a confirmed diagnosis of / have been advised / need to self-isolate due to coronavirus COVID-19 and I can’t make a claim online, what do I do?   
You will be able to make a claim by phone by calling 0800 328 5644. Once this period has passed you can request for your claim to be switched to a digital claim so you can manage this online, if you are able to.

 

I have a confirmed diagnosis of/ have been advised / need to self-isolate due to coronavirus COVID-19 do I need to get a fit note?   
You do not need you to get a fit note for a period that you have a confirmed diagnosis of / been advised / need to self-isolate due to coronavirus COVID-19 as you will be treated as having a Limited Capability for Work.

 

I have a confirmed diagnosis of / have been advised / need to self-isolate due to coronavirus COVID-19 but I am self-employed so I cannot earn any money. Will the Minimum Income Floor be applied / continue to be applied?     
As you are unable to work, due to needing to self-isolate, we will not apply the Minimum Income Floor for the period of time that you are affected. Please report any earnings as you would normally and advise us once you are able to leave isolation.

 

I am self-employed and my business has been impacted negatively by the coronavirus outbreak. Will the Minimum Income Floor be applied/ continue to be applied?    
Due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on your business we will not apply the Minimum Income Floor: you should continue to report earnings as usual.  

 

I have a confirmed diagnosis of / have been advised / need to self-isolate due to coronavirus COVID-19 but normally attend the Jobcentre to collect my HMGPES vouchers should I do?     
We will escalate your case for the appropriate approach to ensure you receive your payment. We will notify you through your journal once we have a response and advise you of next steps.

 

I have a confirmed diagnosis of / have been advised / need to self-isolate due to coronavirus COVID-19 but I have no money, what do I do?    
As you have an advance available on your claim, I can action that to ensure you have access to funds for the required period. Business As Usual conversation concerning advances.

A Budgeting Advance may be available: check the criteria below, and Advances: Budgeting advance for more guidance:
Has the claimant been in receipt of UC for 6 months? If not, they can still claim if the cost is related to retaining or attaining employment.

Is the claimant below the low income threshold? (less than £2,600 for a single claim, or £3,200 for a couple claim, of earned income received in the last 6 AP.

Does the claimant have savings below £1,000? (A Claimant can still receive a Budgeting Advance but their entitlement will be reduced for every £1 over the £1000 threshold)

Do they currently have a budgeting advance that hasn’t been paid off in full?
If they meet all the above criteria:
Under these circumstances you are entitled to a budgeting advance, of up to £348 for a single claimant, £464 for a couple without children or up to £812 with children.
If no advance is available and they do not meet the above criteria:
As there is no advance available on your claim you will need to contact your local foodbank for support, their number will be available online and they are currently working through how they can support anyone in need.

 

Can I get help with childcare costs due to my child’s school closing because of coronavirus?        
The Government has advised all childcare providers, nurseries and early years providers to close childcare provision except to vulnerable children and children of key workers  due to Covid-19 so unless you are in one of those groups you should not have on-going childcare costs. Any costs you have already paid and reported for your childcare will be included and paid as normal in your Universal Credit payments.

 

I am a key worker or have a vulnerable child, will I get help with my childcare costs?      
Childcare provision should continue to be available to you if you are in one of these groups. Your Universal Credit childcare costs will be reimbursed as part of your Universal Credit in the normal way.

 

My registered childcare provider has closed due to Covid-19. I still need to go to work but will need to pay someone who isn't registered to look after my child. Can I get help with these costs?    
Due to Covid-19, Childcare provision is only available for vulnerable children or children of key workers. Relevant childcare has to be provided by a provider who is registered under the specified legislation (in England this is Ofsted) or is part of a school’s activities. Childcare that is informal or unregulated is not relevant childcare under the legislation and cannot be reimbursed in your Universal Credit.

 

I am a childcare provider/nursery. What support/help is available to me?      

For further information on Covid-19 and early years/childcare closures and support available please go here   

 

I have heard that we will receive an extra £1000 (£20 per week): when will we get that from?         
The Universal Credit standard allowance will increase from the 6 April 2020. The additional amount will show on your May statement. You will not be paid additional money separate to your normal payment day. You will be able to see how your payment has been calculated on your May statement through your online account.

 

How do I get/ when will I get my 80% of wages?   
If your employer intends to access the coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, they should discuss this with you. DWP will not be paying wages through the coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, this scheme will be supported by HMRC.

 

Will my 80% of wages be treated like my normal pay?     
If you receive support through the coronavirus Retention Scheme any wages you receive will be treated the same as your wages would normally when it comes to calculating your Universal Credit payment.   

 

I’ve been sent a link to claim additional money: should I click/ apply?           
No. There are a number of phishing emails circulating in relation to accessing additional funds. DWP will not send you a link asking you to apply for additional funding. DWP may ring you from a withheld number – however they will have information that can prove that they are DWP. You should not discuss your claim if a caller cannot provide assurance that they are calling from DWP or another Government Department.