Social Security Benefits: Coronavirus

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 15th April 2020.

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Photo of Emma Hardy Emma Hardy Shadow Minister (Education)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what alternative arrangements will be made available for benefit claimants who are unable to attend face to face meetings.

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

An error has been identified in the written answer given on 24 March 2020.

The correct answer should have been:

As both the Prime Minister and Chancellor have made clear, the Government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID 19 and we have been clear in our intention that no one should be penalised for doing the right thing. These are rapidly developing circumstances, we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

We are doing all we can to keep our Jobcentres and service centres operational, but as of 24th March, Jobcentres are only offering face-to-face appointments – conducted in accordance with PHE guidelines on social distancing - for the small number of claimants who would otherwise not be able to receive support. This helps us to continue to deliver our critical services whilst keeping our customers and staff safe.

From 17th March, we suspended all face-to-face assessments for health and disability benefits. For existing claimants, we have automatically extended awards and suspended any new review or reassessment activity, except where claimants notify us of changes to their needs that may result in an increase to their award. This temporary measure is being taken to ensure the Department’s resources are focused on providing access to financial support for new claimants, and it will also reassure claimants about continuity of their benefit during the coronavirus outbreak.

We have also taken the decision to temporarily suspend the requirement for face-to-face Jobcentre Plus appointments for all claimants in Universal Credit, Job Seekers’ Allowance (JSA), Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Income Support. This means that claimants are not expected to contact their Jobcentre Plus while this temporary suspension is in place. They will continue to receive benefits as normal and they will not be sanctioned for not taking part in interviews with Jobcentres.

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Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

As both the Prime Minister and Chancellor have made clear, the Government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID 19 and we have been clear in our intention that no one should be penalised for doing the right thing. These are rapidly developing circumstances, we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

We are doing all we can to keep our Jobcentres and service centres operational, but as of 24th March, Jobcentres are only offering face-to-face appointments – conducted in accordance with PHE guidelines on social distancing - for the small number of claimants who would otherwise not be able to receive support. This helps us to continue to deliver our critical services whilst keeping our customers and staff safe.

From 17th March, we suspended all face-to-face assessments for health and disability benefits. For existing claimants, we have automatically extended awards and suspended any new review or reassessment activity, except where claimants notify us of changes to their needs that may result in an increase to their award. This temporary measure is being taken to ensure the Department’s resources are focused on providing access to financial support for new claimants, and it will also reassure claimants about continuity of their benefit during the coronavirus outbreak.

We have also taken the decision to temporarily suspend the requirement for face-to-face Jobcentre Plus appointments for all claimants in Universal Credit, Job Seekers’ Allowance (JSA), Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Income Support. This means that claimants are not expected to contact their Jobcentre Plus while this temporary suspension is in place. They will continue to receive benefits as normal and they will not be sanctioned for not taking part in interviews with Jobcentres.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes0 people think so

No0 people think not

Would you like to ask a question like this yourself? Use our Freedom of Information site.