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We have continued to update our free benefits and welfare reform factsheets with information regarding coronavirus.

Face to face benefits assessments remain cancelled. More information can be found here: https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2020/march/face-face-benefits-appointments-cancelled

The Government’s has published guidance on Statutory Sick Pay, job centre appointments, health assessment appointments, changes to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits, Local Housing Allowances and Housing Benefit here: https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/

For the first seven days off work, employees can self-certify so they don’t need any evidence for their employer. After that, employers may ask for evidence of sickness absence. Where this is related to having symptoms of coronavirus or living with someone who has symptoms, the isolation note can be used to provide evidence of the advice to self-isolate.

People who need to claim universal credit or employment and support allowance because of coronavirus will not be required to produce a fit note or an isolation note.

In addition, the government advises that the note can be accessed through the NHS website and NHS 111 online, and that:

“'After answering a few questions, an isolation note will be emailed to the user. If they don’t have an email address, they can have the note sent to a trusted family member or friend, or directly to their employer. The service can also be used to generate an isolation note on behalf of someone else.'”

Other welfare benefit changes include:

  • Increasing the universal credit standard allowance and the working tax credit basic element by £20 a week for the next 12 months.
  • Suspending the minimum income floor for everyone affected by the economic impacts of coronavirus.
  • The rule that means statutory sick pay is not paid for the first three days of work missed because of sickness absence with (retrospective effect from 13 March 2020);
  • Raising the ‘generosity’ of housing benefit and universal credit, so that the local housing allowance will cover at least 30% of market rents in an area.
  • Removing the universal credit minimum income floor rule for the self employed.

Carers are able to continue to claim carer’s allowance if they have a temporary break in caring, because they or the person they care for gets coronavirus, or if they have to isolate because of it.

The provision of emotional support to a disabled person will now count towards the carer’s allowance threshold of 35 hours of care a week.

New universal credit claimants can now verify their identity through Government Gateway or can continue to confirm their identity using gov.uk verify

New-style employment and support allowance can now be claimed online.

The DWP has launched a New video service for deaf claimants accessing Universal Credit.

The DWP has confirmed that people who are currently shielding as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak will not be eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP) on that basis from 1 August 2020. You might still be able to get SSP if you can’t work from home and it’s not safe for you to go to work. You’ll need a fit note from your doctor to give to your employer.

We have updated our free benefits and welfare reform factsheets with information regarding coronavirus.

Entitled To is a useful website to find out more about benefits: https://www.entitledto.co.uk/help/Coronavirus_help

Rightsnet has a coronavirus social welfare news page that is regularly updated - https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/covid19

HMRC has a new helpline number: 0800 024 1222 which is open from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday. 

The Disability Benefits Consortium (DR UK is a member) has insisted on financial safeguarding for disabled people in a letter to Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, here: https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2020/march/disability-benefit-consortium-calls-emergency-covid-19-benefit-changes

Information on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, for use with employing PAs, can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-job-retention-scheme-people-receiving-direct-payments

And an update on direct payments published on 10 June can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-people-receiving-direct-payments

An update on direct payments and personal assistants from 18 November can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-people-receiving-direct-payments/coronavirus-covid-19-qa-for-people-receiving-a-personal-budget-or-personal-health-budget