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April 1st 2020

Coronavirus: update on welfare benefits

The UK Government has been overwhelmed with claims to Universal Credit (UC) in recent days, receiving more than 800,000 claims since 16 March (normally around 55,000 per week).

Here's a summary of changes to benefits at the present time - with thanks to Liam McArthur MSP for providing the details:

  • those applying for Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) can claim from day 1 (as opposed to day 8) without the normal requirement to meet face to face;
  • both UC and ESA can now be claimed by phone or online;
  • standard rates of UC and Working Tax Credit both increased by around £1,000 this year;
  • the UC Minimum Income Floor has been temporarily relaxed to ensure that self employed claimants affected by Covid 19 can access UC at a more generous rate;
  • Statutory Sick Pay available from day 1 (as opposed to day 4) - read all about that here; and
  • increase in the Local Housing Allowance rates for UC and Housing Benefit claimants.

Face to face appointments are presently being offered only to claimants who would not otherwise be able to access support.

The usual work search conditions are not being checked for the next three months; the Government does want claimants to look for work and there are many opportunities in various sectors at the moment.

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