The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are providing reliable up to date information on all the changes being made to help benefit claimants cope during these difficult times.

https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-support-for-employees-benefit-claimants-and-businesses

https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/employment-and-benefits-support/

Changes to Jobcentre appointments

Jobcentre Plus are supporting claimants who are staying at home as a result of coronavirus by removing mandatory work search and work availability requirements during their period of sickness.

When claimants tell the Department for Work and Pensions in good time that they are staying at home or that they have been diagnosed with coronavirus, they will not be sanctioned.

If you are sanctioned however support is available, please contact welfarerights@sunderland.gov.uk for help.

JSA customers no longer need to attend a Jobcentre Plus Office in order to receive their fortnightly payments. Payments will be made to customers as normal.

From 24 March Job Centres announced additional measures to reduce unnecessary travel, increase social distancing, protect their customers and staff - and ensure payments can be made as quickly as possible:

  • Face-to-face is reduced to an absolute minimum with offices being closed to all but most vulnerable people whose claims/transactions can't be completed through any other method
  • Strict social distancing measures will be in place
  • Signs will be placed in Job Centre windows asking everyone to claim online and/or over the phone but with a number on the sign for those that need to speak to a colleague in the Job Centre instead

The Department for Work & Pensions has now switched to a 'don't call us, we'll call you' system so people do not need to try to contact us after they have completed their online claim. Instead, a bolstered frontline team will proactively call claimants if they need to check any of the information provided as part of the claim.

Get help with benefits and pensions if you have accessibility needs

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-help-and-support-if-someone-dies?utm_source=ea70f978-280a-46b8-8010-cb86029be2e1&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

Increase to Universal Credit

The Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element will be raised by £1,000 a year, for the next 12 months this money is intended to help people manage their finance better and avoid the need to use crisis support/services such as foodbanks.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/increase-to-working-tax-credits-what-this-means

The recovery of overpayments of Universal Credit and other benefits by DWP has been suspended for three months, again to help people manage their finances better.

Tax Credits

HRMC have confirmed that people not working their normal hours will continue to retain entitlement to the usual tax credits. You do not need to contact them

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tax-credits-customers-will-continue-to-receive-payments-even-if-working-fewer-hours-due-to-covid-19

 

Carers

Carers will be able to continue to claim carer's allowance if they have a temporary break in caring, because they or the person they care for gets coronavirus, or if they have to isolate because of it (applies for a period of 8 months from 13 March 2020). Also, the provision of emotional support to a disabled person will now count towards the carer's allowance threshold of 35 hours of care a week - https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2020/april/temporary-carer%E2%80%99s-allowance-easements-response-cv-19-outbreak

Disability Living Allowance and Personal Interdependence Payment

All short-fixed term awards that were due to expire will be extended during the pandemic.

If your child is already getting DLA, and it is due to be reassessed in the three-month period from 23 April 2020, their award will be automatically extended by six months.