Welfare benefits changes due to Covid-19

The Government have brought in/or are about to regarding Covid 19 and some welfare benefits changes.  Please note the information provided below is for guidance only, based on the information available at time of writing and will no doubt change over time.

Impact on UC conditionality requirements

The potential risk to the public that the Coronavirus poses has raised questions about how a UC claimant would be treated if they went into self-isolation or took steps to prevent themselves from catching the disease.

So,  If  you  are in receipt  of UC  and can’t attend a jobcentre appointment because you need to self-isolate, don’t worry. Tell the DWP as soon as possible to avoid a sanction. Contact your work coach via your online journal or by phone to explain your situation.  If you are on UC customer who is self-isolating you need to let your work coach know via a note on your journal – this is particularly important for those who are jobseeking, but also for those who work or are required to undertake work related activities or interviews with your work coach.

If you fail to do so you risk being sanctioned for failure to undertake work search or attend appointments.

Statutory Sick Pay and Universal Credit

Normally when an employee is off work sick you can self-certify for the first seven days and receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), if entitled, from day four of their sickness.  We understand that the Government has urged employers to use their discretion and respect the medical need to self-isolate in making decisions about sick pay.

Already on Universal Credit

Statutory Sick Pay is treated as earnings. The DWP will automatically be informed of any SSP received by the employee in an Assessment Period and your award will be adjusted accordingly.

Not on Universal Credit

See ‘Not currently on UC but wages dropped due to being absent from work’ below.

Not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay?

Those not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay may be able to make a claim for New-Style Employment and Support Allowance and / or Universal Credit.

  • New-Style Employment and Support Allowance

If entitled and have paid enough national insurance contributions and meet the claiming criteria, ‘New style’ Employment and Support Allowance may be payable and for people with the COVID-19 virus or self-isolating according to government advice, from the first day of sickness, rather than from the eighth day,

  • How does someone get a fit note after the 7 day self-certification period if they cannot visit their GP?

As employees can only self-certify for seven days and will then need to obtain a 'fit note' that would usually mean a trip to see your GP, the Government has stated (Budget 2020) that they are setting up a system vis the NHS111 service that will provide an alternative to the fit note, and that until then employers are being urged to use their discretion not to require a 'fit note'.

What about self-employed UC claimants who are subject to the Minimum Income Floor?

The Minimum Income Floor (MIF) only affects those self-employed claimants who are in the ‘all work requirements group’. Therefore if you are required to self-isolate by law then you will be moved into the ‘work related requirements only’ conditionality group and will not be affected by the MIF for as long as you are required to self-isolate.

The Budget 2020 statement confirmed that the minimum income floor for self-employed claimants will be temporarily relaxed for those with the COVID-19 virus, or self-isolating according to Government advice. This is a temporary measure that will last for the duration of the pandemic (UK).

Not currently on UC but wages dropped due to being absent from work

Someone not currently in receipt of any means tested benefits may find that their wages drop due to being absent from work as a result of the COVID-19. As long as you meet the general eligibility criteria for UC (eg savings below £16,000) then you can make a claim for it. Whether you are entitled or not, and how much you are entitled to, will depend on your personal circumstances and income.

If you are in receipt of a means tested benefit, and your wages drop due to being absent from work due to the COVID-19, you may be better off if you claim Universal Credit if eligible.

Making a new claim for Universal Credit

The claim for UC can be made online. But a new UC claimant is normally required to attend the JobCentre for your new claim interview. And if you require an Advance Payment you will normally have to attend the JobCentre to verify your ID. 

The Budget 2020 statement confirmed that new procedures will be in place to allow access to UC and Advance Payment without the need to attend the JobCentre.

On the gov.uk website it states:

Don’t delay making your Universal Credit claim, even if you think you may be affected by coronavirus.

You can apply for Universal Credit online. If you need to make an appointment, call the number you are given when you submit your claim, and explain the situation. JobCentre Plus staff are ready to support you if you need to self-isolate.

If you have any further questions please call us on 01606 813 535 and speak to our Income Management Team.

Changes to our services; COVID-19

We understand this is a worrying situation, the safety of our colleagues and customers is our utmost priority. Following the Government decision to raise the COVID-19 response level to ‘Delay’ phase and implement ‘social distancing’ measures, we are making some temporary changes to our services to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

We are still open for business, but we are reducing our face to face appointments. The changes below will be in place to protect our colleagues and customers.

From 23rd March;

  • The Repairs & Maintenance service will cover emergency repairs only and will also include any necessary compliance checks / H&S related work or inspections.
  • We will continue to undertake repair works that can be completed outside of customers’ homes, as well as safety inspections of communal areas

What will happen next?

Our customer service team will be contacting you shortly to cancel any non-emergency repairs you have booked in with us. We will also be cancelling any planned works such as kitchen, bathrooms if they haven’t started yet (we will finish these works if they have already started).

To see what an emergency repair is click here socsi.in/tgZWW

My Account – rent & repairs app.

We are temporarily closing the option to report a non-emergency repair via our app. You can still use the app to pay rent.

Head Office reception

Our head office reception at Gadbrook Park, Northwich will be closed from 19th March, apart from essential appointments that we have made with you.

If you have concerns about paying rent please contact the Income Management team on 0300 303 9848 or DM us here, they can discuss rent payment arrangements and refer you to our Money Matters and Employment teams.

Our other support services are still here for you;

• Support & Wellbeing Team 0300 303 9848 or DM us here
• Lettings team 0300 303 9848 or DM us here.

We are monitoring the advice from the Government and we will keep you updated via our Facebook page and website.