To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will publish written guidance for jobcentre staff on benefit claimants who are self-isolating and therefore not able to meet work-related requirements including where there is a vulnerable member of the household other than the claimant.
25 March 2020
This answer is a correction from the original answer.
Recognising the need for DWP staff to focus on the processing of claims, we will not be checking conditionality compliance with work search requirements for the next three months. This means no sanctions should be applied for that reason for the next three months, though we still encourage people who can work to seek work. Regulations will be introduced to bring this change into effect.
We have taken the decision to temporarily suspend the requirement for face-to-face Jobcentre Plus appointments from 19th March for all claimants in Universal Credit, Job Seekers’ Allowance (JSA), Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Income Support. This means that claimants are not expected to contact their Jobcentre Plus while this temporary suspension is in place. They will continue to receive benefits as normal and they will not be sanctioned for not taking part in interviews with Jobcentres.
All Jobcentre staff have received updated guidance, which has been reinforced through calls with team leaders.
Claimants have also been informed by text message and via their online journals that they are no longer required to attend appointments. Additional information will also be provided in the FAQs accessible through a claimant’s online account.
As both the Prime Minister and Chancellor have made clear, the Government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID 19 and we have been clear in our intention that no one should be penalised for doing the right thing. These are rapidly developing circumstances, we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.