To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the covid-19 outbreak, what plans her Department has to change the process of applying for universal credit for people who cannot apply online so that claimants do not have to take proof of identity into their local JobCentre.
The Department takes seriously the need to support claimants during the COVID-19 outbreak, and wants Universal Credit to be easy to access. It is designed to be a ‘digital-first’ service, ensuring we make best use of technology to deliver a modern and effective working-age welfare system. This allows our staff to concentrate on those people who require additional support through different channels.
Although the Department offers comprehensive support for claimants to use our digital service, there will be occasions when people are unable to make their claim online, so telephone applications can be accepted through the Freephone Universal Credit Helpline.
Jobcentres are currently closed to claimants, except for the most complex cases where help can only be delivered face-to-face. As a consequence, new Universal Credit claimants will have their identity verified by telephone through the use of biographical questions generated by information already held by the Department.