Benefit changes 2

COVID-19: Government changes
which might affect your benefits

You will not have to go to any face to face benefits assessments until at least 30 June 2020.

You also will not have to go to appointments at the Jobcentre Plus until at least 19 June 2020, for example for interviews or for appointments with your Work Coach. The Jobcentre Plus might still ask to talk to you on the phone.

If you are waiting for a medical assessment, you will continue to receive the same amount of benefit until your assessment. If your benefits are for a fixed time, the time will be extended until at least 19 June 2020.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will try to assess you without seeing you face to face if either:

  • you’ve already been given an assessment date
  • you’ve made a new claim for benefits like, Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

It is important to send your medical evidence as soon as possible. The DWP will try to assess you by looking at your application form and medical evidence. They will talk to you over the phone if possible.

If you are paying back a benefit overpayment or budgeting loan, you do not have to make any repayments until at least 1 July 2020. This includes payments to debt collection companies.

If money is normally taken off your benefits or earnings to repay them, this will stop and you do not have to do anything. If you normally repay them yourself, you can stop making payments. If you pay by direct debit, you can ask your bank to cancel it.

If you received an Advance Payment of Universal Credit, you will still have to pay this back.

If you are Appealing a Benefit Decision to the Tribunal, if possible, a Tribunal Judge will assess your case without a hearing. Instead they will make a decision based only on the documents. Send any evidence you have as soon as possible, for example medical evidence.

Some Tribunals have closed so it is a good idea to check where you should send your documents.  You can find contact details for your Tribunal at: http://sscs.venues.tribunals.gov.uk/venues/venues.htm

If the Judge assesses your case based on the documents, they will send you a ‘Provisional Decision’. If you do not agree with the Provisional Decision, tell the Tribunal you want a Hearing instead.  If there has to be a Hearing, the Tribunal might suggest a phone call or video conference.

If you receive Universal Credit, at the moment you do not have to:

  • search for work
  • be available for work

This will continue until at least 30 June 2020. It does not matter what work-related activity group you are in.

If you are earning less money because of COVID-19, you are likely to receive more Universal Credit.

If you are an Employee, you do not need to tell the Government you are earning less money.

If you are Self-Employed, your Work Coach can remove or reduce your Minimum Income Floor. This means you might be able to receive more Universal Credit.

Tell your Work Coach if you are:

  • staying at home because of COVID-19
  • having trouble finding work because of COVD-19

You can tell your Work Coach by making a note on your online account at: https://www.gov.uk/sign-in-universal-credit

If you receive Jobseeker’s Allowance, at the moment you do not have to:

  • search for work
  • be available for work

This will continue until at least 30 June 2020. It does not matter what your Jobseeker’s Agreement says.

If you receive Housing Benefit, you might be able to receive more money if you are earning less because of COVID-19. Let your local Council know as soon as possible.

If you receive Working Tax Credits, you do not need to tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) about short-term changes to your working hours. You will need to start reporting changes 8 weeks after the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme closes at the end of October. It does not matter if you’re not on this scheme.

At the moment, you do not have to tell HMRC about things like:

  • your Employer temporarily reducing your hours
  • your Employer paying you through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • having less work if you’re Self-Employed

You still have to tell HMRC if your working hours increase or there are permanent changes to your job, for example if:

  • you are made redundant or lose your job
  • you have stopped being Self-Employed because you were not able to find any work
  • your hours permanently change

If you are earning less than normal, you should tell HMRC, as you might receive more money.

You will only receive more money if your income drops by £2,500 across the Tax year, which runs from 6 April to 5 April. If you say your salary will drop by this much and it does not do so, you will have to pay back any extra money you receive.

If you do not think your income will drop by that much, you should check if you would receive more money on Universal Credit.

If you start claiming Universal Credit, you will no longer be able to claim Working Tax Credits.

It is best to talk to a Specialist Benefits Caseworker at Paperweight before moving on to Universal Credit. Please call Paperweight on 020 8455 4996 or e-mail info@paperweight.org.uk

You now have more time to complete the PIP2 claim form for Personal Independence Payment. You must send the form within 90 days of the date you called the DWP to claim. Because of the change, the deadline shown on the letter might be wrong. The letter might have the old deadline, which was 1 month after you called the DWP.

It is best to talk to a Specialist Benefits Caseworker at Paperweight about completing a claim for Personal Independence Payment.

Carer’s Allowance payments will continue even if you stop caring for someone for a while because you:

  • have or might have COVID-19
  • are keeping away from other people to avoid COVID-19

 

If you would like the help of a Specialist Benefits Caseworker, please call Paperweight on 020 8455 4996 or e-mail info@paperweight.org.uk

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