There are no statistics at this stage but over the past few days there has been a five fold increase in claims being taken on a typical day and DWP frm other departments are being re-deployed to support processing new benefit claims.
From (Thursday 19 March, all face-to-face contact conditionality appointments with customers in jobcentres have been suspended for three months. This includes weekly and fortnightly work search reviews in UC and JSA and ESA (new style and legacy) and IS work-focused interviews.
External communications have been issued, telling people not attend the jobcentre and to reassure them their payment will be unaffected. A message has been added to all UC customers’ accounts confirming face-to-face appointments will be rearranged. Where possible, customer contact and support is being provided digitally or by telephone, especially where customers are known to be vulnerable. If customers need to contact them, they should do so by telephone or online, but the jobcentre network will remain open for customers who are not ill with coronavirus or self-isolating.
There has been an increase in vacancies being advertised with supermarkets to meet the demands of customers. Most applications are either on line or by walking in to the supermarkets and some people are receiving almost immediate offers to start work.
Summary of Key Updates
Claimants with Health Benefits:
What you need to do: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Get coronavirus support as an extremely vulnerable person: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable
Both will increase by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating. This will apply to all new and existing Universal Credit customers and to existing Working Tax Credit customers.
This means that for a single Universal Credit customer (aged 25 or over), the standard allowance will increase from £317.82 to £409.89 per month.
Local Housing Allowance Rates
From April, Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates will be increased to the 30th percentile of market rents. This means that LHA will pay for at least 30% of market rents in each area. This will apply to all private renters who are new or existing Universal Credit housing element customers, and to existing Housing Benefit customers.
The chancellor also announced:
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
UK workers of any employer who is placed on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can keep their job, with the government paying up to 80% of a worker’s wages, up to a total of £2,500 per worker each month. This will be backdated to 1 March and will be initially open for 3 months, to be extended if necessary.
This scheme is being delivered by HMRC, and will be available in the coming weeks; more information on Gov.uk.
Personal Independence Payment and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
Face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits will be suspended for the next 3 months
Benefit Reviews suspended