Universal Credit UK: DWP updates jobcentre rules for new coronavirus tiers – full details

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Universal Credit and other state benefits are usually applied for online but throughout the process, applications are managed and processed through a jobcentre. Physical visits to these jobcentres have been limited due to coronavirus and now updated guidance has been issued on how they’ll manage under the new tiered system as the second lockdown ends.

From December 3, jobcentres will adhere to the following in restriction tier one (medium) and tier two (high) locations:

  • Work Coaches will be empowered to support customers by the best and most appropriate channels – whether online, by phone, or in person – with jobcentres remaining open to help those who need extra support and are unable to interact with the DWP on the phone or digitally.
  • All jobcentres to remain open – maintaining social distancing and regular desk and communal space cleaning in line with current COVID-19 guidance.
  • Face-to-face assessments for disability benefits remain suspended
  • If a claimant thinks they might be entitled to a health and disability benefit they should contact the DWP us as soon as possible to make a claim in the normal way.
  • For existing customers, payments will continue as normal. Anyone who has a change in their needs should contact the DWP immediately so staff can ensure they are receiving the correct level of support.

In tier three (very high), the following will be applicable:

  • All face-to-face assessments will be suspended, except for vulnerable customers who will still be able to attend jobcentres for urgent support.
  • Work Coaches will be empowered to support customers by the best and most appropriate channels – whether online, by phone, or in person – with jobcentres remaining open to help those who need extra support and are unable to interact with the DWP on the phone or digitally.
  • All jobcentres to remain open – maintaining social distancing and regular desk and communal space cleaning in line with current COVID-19 guidance.
  • Face-to-face assessments for disability benefits remain suspended.
  • If a claimant thinks they may be entitled to a health and disability benefit, they should contact the DWP as soon as possible to make a claim in the normal way.
  • For existing customers, payments will continue as normal. Anyone who has a change in their needs should contact the DWP immediately so they can ensure they are receiving the correct level of support.

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There are also slightly different rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland where differing lockdown rules are in affect.

To be eligible for Universal Credit, a claimant will need to be on a low income or out of work entirely.

Additionally, they must be aged between 18 and state pension age, have less than £16,000 in savings and be living in the UK.

If a person is in a partnership when applying, their partner’s income and savings will be taken into account.

What a person receives from Universal Credit will depend on the claimant’s specific circumstances.

Standard allowances are in place which everyone will receive as a minimum and additional payments will be provided for certain elements such as having children and rental costs.

The standard allowances will be based on the claimant’s age and relationship status and they’ll range between £342.72 and £594.04 per month.

Currently, all claimants are receiving a £20 uplift to their payments and the DWP has confirmed they’ll be reviewing this boost in early 2021.

Payments will usually arrive once a month into a bank, building society or credit union account.

Initial payments can take around five weeks to arrive but claimants can apply for an advance if they’re struggling with bills.

After the first payment, claimants will be paid on the same date of every month.

If these payment dates fall on a weekend or bank holiday, claimants will usually see the money arrive early on the first working day before this.

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