Coronavirus and claiming benefits
Reviewed 10th July 2020 at 09.17am
The below information has been taken directly from official Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) website. Read more here
If you’re in work and not claiming benefits
If you cannot work due to coronavirus and are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay you will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of your illness. This applies retrospectively from 13 March 2020.
Statutory Sick Pay will be payable if you have coronavirus or are self-isolating on government advice.
If you are a gig worker and/or on a zero hours contract, you may be entitled to sick pay. Check your eligibility for Statutory Sick Pay
If you need to provide evidence to your employer that you need to stay at home due to having symptoms of coronavirus an Isolation Note can be obtained from NHS 111 online. If you live with someone that has symptoms, an Isolation Note can be obtained from the NHS website.
If you are not eligible to receive sick pay you can apply for Universal Credit and/or apply for New Style Employment and Support Allowance
You can also apply for these if you are prevented from working because of a risk to public health.
If you’re already claiming benefits
Changes to jobcentre appointments
People receiving benefits do not have to attend jobcentre appointments for three months, starting from Thursday 19 March 2020.
People will continue to receive their benefits as normal, but all requirements to attend the jobcentre in person are suspended.
You should not attend the jobcentre unless directed to do so for an exceptional purpose.
If you are an existing Universal Credit claimant you will be paid as normal, you do not need to contact us. Our online service is working as normal and everything you need should be available in your account.
Although staff are working on our Universal Credit telephone lines as normal, we are exceptionally busy. You do not need to call us unless you are not able to use your online account. It is important that our telephone lines are available for our most vulnerable customers, using your online account as much as possible will help protect this service.
People can still make applications for benefits online if they are eligible. Read more about making a new claim
If you’re already claiming Universal Credit and think you may have been affected by coronavirus, please contact your work coach as soon as possible. You should do this using your online journal
Changes to health assessments
In light of the current coronavirus outbreak, the Department for Work and Pensions has taken the precautionary decision to temporarily suspend all face-to-face assessments for health and disability-related benefits. This is aimed at reducing the risk of exposure to coronavirus and safeguarding 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.
If you already have an assessment appointment arranged, you do not need to attend. Your assessment provider will contact you to discuss your appointment and explain the next steps to you.
If you have made a claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Universal Credit or Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) but do not have a date for an assessment appointment, you do not need to do anything. You will be contacted shortly by telephone or letter to let you know what will happen next.
If you are already receiving PIP, ESA, Universal Credit or IIDB you will continue to receive your current payments as normal.
If you have made a new claim or wish to make a new claim, DWP will continue to take claims for all benefits.
Read the current NHS guidelines on coronavirus, including advice on those who should stay at home.
Changes to how much you’ll get
The government has increased the standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit for one year. Both have increased by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating. This applies to all new and existing Universal Credit claimants and to existing Working Tax Credit claimants.
This means that for a single Universal Credit claimant (aged 25 or over), the standard allowance has increased from £317.82 to £409.89 per month.
Local Housing Allowance rates have been increased to the 30th percentile of market rents. This applies to all private renters who are new or existing Universal Credit housing element claimants, and to existing Housing Benefit claimants.
If you’re self-employed
If you are self-employed and claiming Universal Credit, the Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) has been temporarily relaxed. This change applies to all Universal Credit claimants and will last for the duration of the outbreak.
New claimants do not need to attend the jobcentre to demonstrate gainful self-employment.
The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by coronavirus. 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. Read more about eligibility for SEISS
You should not contact HMRC about accessing SEISS now. HMRC will use existing information to check potential eligibility and invite applications once the scheme is operational.
The Self-employment Income Support Scheme will be treated as earnings in Universal Credit. Your Universal Credit payment will adjust in response to changes in your earnings.
If you need financial help whilst waiting for SEISS, check your eligibility for Universal Credit
Changes to your earnings
If you are in work and already claiming Universal Credit, and are staying at home on Government advice, you should report this in the usual way via your online journal. If this means you are working fewer hours, the amount of Universal Credit you receive will adjust as your earnings change.
If you’re making a new claim
To help us get through the unprecedented number of Universal Credit claims, we’ve changed how we process them. This means there is no need to call us. If we need to check any information provided as part of your claim with you – we will call you. Don’t worry, we are working hard to progress all of the claims. There is no need to contact us to check progress.
You should apply for Universal Credit online. You do not need to call DWP to arrange an appointment and you shouldn’t attend the jobcentre. We will know that you have applied and will contact you if we need any more information from you to process any payment you are due. We will put a note into your online account and follow up with a phone call – this may appear as a private number. Please check your online account and look out for calls from us.
We are working hard to ensure the online application reflects these changes – in the meantime please do not call us. If you’ve recently applied for Universal Credit, your claim starts the day you submit your application online. This date is not reliant on your identity being verified online or linked to the date of any further contact.
DWP will never text or email asking for personal information or bank details.
If you cannot use digital services at all, Universal Credit applications can still be made over the phone.
If you’re a new customer and are having a problem verifying your identity online do not worry – your claim has been submitted. Your jobcentre will know you have applied online, they will call you if they need to confirm any information with you in order to progress your claim.
Our phone systems mean calls from us may display as 0800 numbers, or an unknown number. If you get a call from an unknown number following our message in your account please pick up, as it’s likely to be DWP. We will of course ensure that you know the call is genuine.
Please note, there are scams preying on people, so do not share information if you’re not sure the call is from DWP. If you are in any doubt, please ask the caller to post a specific form of words into your journal so you can be sure it’s us.
If you need to claim Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) because of coronavirus, you will not be required to produce a Fit Note.
If you are affected by coronavirus you will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance upfront without physically attending a jobcentre.
If you are suffering from coronavirus or are required to stay at home and want to apply for ESA, the usual 7 waiting days for new claimants will not apply. ESA will be payable from day one.
For more information about any aspect of Universal Credit, including how to make a claim, visit the homepage or use the links at the top of this page.
If you have been working within the last 2 to 3 years and have paid and/or been credited with enough National Insurance contributions, you may be able to claim New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
New Style JSA can be claimed on its own or at the same time as Universal Credit. Your savings and capital (or your partner’s savings, capital and income) are not taken into account when claiming New Style JSA.
If you are self-employed and are making a new application for Universal Credit, you will not need to attend the jobcentre to demonstrate gainful self-employment.
If you’re an employer
There’s a range of support available to help employers deal with the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak.
The government has announced an extensive package of financial measures, including the Job Retention Scheme, a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium enterprises, and deferred VAT and Income Tax payments.
And if you have fewer than 250 employees, you will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay for employees unable to work because of coronavirus. This refund will be for up to 2 weeks per employee.
If you employ people, you are urged to use your discretion about what evidence, if any, you ask for when making decisions about sick pay. If evidence is required, employees can get an Isolation Note from NHS 111 online if they have symptoms, or the NHS website if they live with someone that has symptoms.
Find out about other government support for businesses affected by coronavirus.