The Department for Work and Pensions is standing up to the challenge posed by Coronavirus.
Since 16th March, the Department has now received over 1.5 million claims for Universal Credit and over 250,000 applications for other benefits like Jobseekers’ Allowance. This is about six times the normal level that it would experience.
Jobcentres remain operational, but are functioning differently to the norm. All local Jobcentres have been refocussed into processing teams, prioritising advances and the registration and payment of new claims. Jobcentres only have face to face appointments for the small number of claimants who would otherwise not be able to receive support. This is helping to deliver critical services whilst keeping customers and staff safe.
The DWP have temporarily paused the recovery of most Government debt which includes any overpayments of UC, Social Fund loans and Tax Credit debts, for a minimum of 3 months. This includes recovery by all methods, including deduction from benefit, voluntary repayment or directly from earnings. This change will help people in the short term.
Advances are available where a claimant feels they cannot wait for their first formal payment and are recovered from the next 12 payments during the rest of the year. In the four-week period to the 12 April 2020, the DWP have paid 513,000 advances to Universal Credit claimants.
The DWP have also proactively contacted 27,000 customers, including, pensioners who access their payment through a Post Office Card Account including 6,000 who live alone.
All benefits have now been uplifted by 1.7% as of April 6th, ending the benefits freeze. The state pension rose by 3.9% as per the triple lock. The increased to UC and LHA rates have also been enacted.