The DWP announced extra support and other measures to help workers, benefit claimants, and small businesses affected by coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The information in this help guide explains how the Department for Work and Pensions used the 2020 Budget to reveal its latest responses for recovery.
People Who Are Already Claiming Benefits
Note: Effective 17th of March 2020, a temporary change in the rules removes the requirement for claimants on disability benefits to have face-to-face assessments (includes health checks for Universal Credit).
Many people infected by the coronavirus, and those having to follow self isolation regulations, need to stay at home.
As a result, the DWP released special arrangements for anyone in receipt of benefits who are unable to attend jobcentre appointments or reassessments.
If you are already claiming support:
Disabled and sick claimants unable to attend a reassessment will continue receiving benefit payments for:
You will not need to produce a 'fit note' to substantiate a claim for Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit if due to coronavirus.
In most cases, people staying at home (or those diagnosed with coronavirus), will not have their benefits sanctioned. But, the DWP will be reviewing 'conditionality requirements' in claimant commitments.
The DWP will remove mandatory work search and work availability requirements for claimants who need to stay at home as a result of coronavirus (e.g. to account for a period of sickness).
Making a New Claim for Financial Support
Extra financial support is now available quicker for people required to self isolate at home or those infected by the coronavirus disease. As a result, the DWP announced that:
They will waive the usual seven (7) waiting days for any new claimants of ESA if they are suffering from the coronavirus disease (or required to stay at home). Thus, the DWP will make the payment from day one.
People affected by Covid-19 can apply for Universal Credit and get one month in advance (without the need to visit a jobcentre branch in person).
People in Work (employees and self-employed)
One of the key DWP support packages is helping to make sure workers can take any required time off (e.g. to reduce the spread of coronavirus Covid-19).
Statutory Sick Pay will be available from day one of an illness for people who cannot work due to the effects of the coronavirus (instead of the fourth day). The aim is to legislate this measure 'retrospectively' from the 13th of March 2020.
The new guidelines on SSP also apply to people who are having to stay at home as a result of government advice. In this case, they urge employers to use discretion about what evidence they request from their employees.
What if employees need to provide evidence to their employers of having to stay isolated at home? If so, they will not need to obtain a doctor's note as it will become available at NHS 111 Online.
Some self-employed claimants getting Universal Credit may be required to stay at home (or become ill because of coronavirus). These individuals will not have a Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) applied for a period of time during the time that they are affected.
Support for Small Businesses
It is reasonable to expect that many businesses will need to deal with some temporary economic impacts due to the coronavirus outbreak.
So, employers with less than 250 employees can reclaim Statutory Sick Pay for their employees that cannot work because of Covid-19. The refund will be available for a period of up to two (2) weeks per employee.