Check out the latest information and advice on coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Department for Work and Pensions is reintroducing normal service as Coronavirus measures ease
If you need a face to face appointment, your Jobcentre will have ‘COVID-proof’ arrangements in the office (hand sanitiser for example), although you can still make contact on the phone or online.
If you make a new claim for Universal Credit or Jobseeker’s Allowance as a jobseeker, you will be asked to complete a ‘claimant commitment’ and to seek work. Your work coach will work with you, and your job search should reflect the ‘new normal’ of large-scale unemployment and fewer job vacancies.
This will start with claims which were already underway when reviews were suspended. You may be asked to complete paperwork or to speak to health care professional about your claim.
Face to face assessments for disability benefits remain suspended and will continue to be undertaken by others means, usually by phone.
You will receive a letter about this, or a message on your journal if you claim Universal Credit. If deductions from your benefit cause hardship, contact the DWP debt management department on tel: 0800 916 0647, or seek advice from our helpline.
The government intends to reopen Jobcentres and to bringing back ‘conditionality’ (agreements to seek work, attend training and interviews etc) for people who are seeking work on Universal Credit and Jobseeker’s Allowance.
If you claim UC or JSA you must agree a ‘claimant commitment’ which sets out what you will do to find work. The commitment must always reflect your personal circumstances and should never be ‘one size fits all’. In recognition of the problems caused by the Coronavirus outbreak, Ministers have said that existing commitments will be reviewed gradually and updated to reflect ‘the new normal’ in the employment market.
If you do not follow the terms of the commitment (for example failing to apply for work) without good reason, your claim may be sanctioned – payment reduced or stopped.
If you think your claimant commitment is not reasonable or does not accurately reflect your situation, you can ask for it to be updated.
If you have been sanctioned and you disagree with the decision, you have a right to challenge the decision. There is no time limit on doing so, and Derbyshire Welfare Rights can assist you, including representing you at appeal.
For further information see our leaflets on the Claimant Commitment and Sanctions or contact our Helpline.
People who are shielding (vulnerable people remaining at home owing to the risk of COVID-19) will not be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay on that basis from 1 August 2020.
From 1 August, if people who have been shielding are unable to work from home but need to work, they can do so as long as the workplace is COVID safe.
It is important that this group continues to take careful precautions, and employers should do all they can to enable them to work from home where this is possible, including moving them to another role if required.
Where this is not possible, those who have been shielding should be provided with the safest on site roles that enable them to maintain social distancing.
If employers cannot provide a safe working environment, they can continue to use the Job Retention Scheme for shielded employees who have already been furloughed.
There is further guidance from the government.
The current suspension of evictions from social or private rented accommodation is to be extended to 23 August 2020.
The government has said that it is committed to ensuring that no one is evicted from their home this summer due to coronavirus.
Work is also underway to introduce new rules which will mean that courts are better able to address the need for appropriate protection of all parties, including those shielding from coronavirus.
Where tenants do experience financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic, the government is clear that landlords and tenants should work together and exhaust all possible options – such as flexible payment plans which take into account a tenant's individual circumstances – to ensure cases only end up in court as an absolute last resort.
If you're having problems with rent arrears, get advice right away from your local Citizen's Advice office.
If you are having problems with Housing Benefit or the rent element of Universal Credit, seek help from our welfare rights team.
Don’t delay seeking advice: help is available right now.
This is a summary of the current advice relating to benefits.
If you are already receiving benefits and are notified that you should self-isolate:
Vist our Welfare Rights advice pages for benefit advice.
If you have a query about your entitlement to benefits contact our Welfare Rights Service by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01332 643394
You can self-certificate for the first seven days, after this you normally need a letter from your GP. The government is expected to ease this requirement.
You may be able to claim benefits such as:
Citizen’s Advice offers a help to claim service, but for the moment this is only available by telephone or webchat. Telephone: 03444 111 444. Text relay: 03444 111 445.
You will be entitled to SSP and NSESA from day one. Under normal circumstances, there are waiting days for SSP (3 days) and NSESA (7 days). These waiting periods don’t apply if you claim because you are self-isolating.
You can also request a short term benefit advance of NSESA if you need money quickly. This is repayable.
When you make a claim for UC, you cannot receive your first payment for at least five weeks. It is possible to request an advance payment of up to one month’s money. This is repayable over 12 months. You will not have to attend the Jobcentre to obtain an advance payment.
For SSP, NSESA and UC, you will be treated as being 'off sick' even if you have self-isolated but you are not showing any symptoms. This will mean that you do not have to produce further medical evidence.
For UC, any requirements in your claim to seek work are suspended. DWP will contact you by phone or via your UC Journal to discuss what to do next.
If you are self-employed and on UC, the ‘minimum income floor’ is suspended while you are self-isolating, and DWP has discretion to continue this suspension for a time after you return to work.
DWP will try to deal with your claim over the phone or online so that you do not have to go to the Jobcentre. From Tuesday 17th March, face to face assessments for disability benefits are suspended for three months. This applies to claims for:
The government has issued regulations that will allow for payment of compensation to severely disabled people who lost money when they were moved to Universal Credit from their previous benefits before January of this year.
The reason for the loss is that the legacy benefits system paid a severe disability premium to some claimants, and this premium is not reproduced in the Universal Credit scheme.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says that from 24 July 2019, people in this situation can receive an extra payment backdated to when they moved on to Universal Credit, and an ongoing additional amount every month. This may be between £120 and £405 a month, depending on the person’s circumstances.
It is not yet known how and when people will be contacted by DWP about this compensation.
Since 16 January 2019, it's not been possible for anyone with a severe disability premium to be moved to Universal Credit. This protection will remain in place until January 2021.
For information and advice, email email@example.com or telephone 01332 643394.
Universal Credit is slowly replacing the means-tested benefits for working-age people which are referred to as legacy benefits, (Income Support, Income Based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance, Tax Credits and Housing Benefit).
This is a summary of the latest updates.
The timetable announced in the November 2018 Budget for the managed migration of UC to all remaining claimants of ‘legacy’ benefits has not changed and is still due to take place between 2020 and 2023 to 2024.
From July 2019, UC is due to test its managed migration system on a limited number of 10,000 claims before the government seeks approval for the remaining claims to be migrated. The test is to take place in the Harrogate area. Claimants in Derbyshire are unaffected.
What has changed is that UC will now test its managed migration system on a limited number of 10,000 claims before the government seeks approval for the remaining claims to be migrated.
At the moment, people can only move on to UC if they make a new claim. Or they have a change in their circumstances which means that a legacy benefit stops and they need to make a new claim for means-tested help.
In this situation, it is not possible to make a new claim for legacy benefits and any claim will be for Universal Credit. This is referred to as natural migration.
This has caused a problem for some severely disabled claimants who live alone, as they received additional money in their legacy benefits called a severe disability premium. This additional help does not exist in UC, and so many disabled claimants found themselves worse off on UC.
From 16 January 2019, anyone who is entitled to the severe disability premium in their legacy benefits will not be able to claim UC and will not be affected by natural migration. Instead they can claim legacy benefits, even if they have a change in circumstances.
Anyone who has already lost their SDP through migration to UC will receive compensation, but this has not yet been passed in to law.
From 15 May 2019, couples made up of one pensioner and one person of working age must usually claim Universal Credit instead of Pension Credit until they are both of pension age.
Existing claims for Pension Credit will carry on, but seek advice if you have a change of circumstances. If on 15 May 2019 you were claiming Housing Benefit but not Pension Credit as a mixed-age couple, you may have a right to claim Pension Credit at a future date.
Up to 13 August 2019 you may still have a right to claim Pension Credit and/or Housing Benefit as a mixed-age couple, if you were entitled before 15 May 2019 but have not yet made a claim.
It is very important to seek advice on your entitlements in this situation.
Find out more about Universal Credit
For information and advice, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 01332 643394.
Changes announced on 1 February 2019 mean that most people cannot now make a new claim for Tax Credits.
Most people who are working or looking after children and who need means-tested help will now have to claim Universal Credit.
Some new claims for Tax Credits are still allowed for people who are barred by the current rules from claiming Universal Credit.
If you are a disabled person who receives a severe disability premium in a benefit such as Income Support, Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance or Housing Benefit, you can still claim Tax Credits where appropriate.
If you have an existing Tax Credits claim, this will continue for the time being. If you already have a claim for one Tax Credit and need to make a claim for the other after 1 February 2019 you can also continue to do this.
We recommend that you seek advice from our helpline if you have any queries about Tax Credits now that these changes are in place.
HMRC have changed their helpline number to 0800 024 1222. It is open from Monday to Friday, between 8am and 4pm.