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Social Security Benefits: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN 48533, tabled on 18 May 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she has taken to provide additional (a) financial and (b) other support for people on legacy benefits during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered on

8 June 2020

We have introduced a balanced package of support for people who are affected by the effects of Covid 19. This includes over £6.5 billion of extra support through the welfare system as part of the unprecedented series of measures, announced by the Chancellor, to support businesses and their employees to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

For Jobseeker’s Allowance we have ensured that any periods of sickness experienced by a person who, is infected or contaminated with coronavirus, in self-isolation or caring for a child or qualifying young person in their household who is infected, will not count towards the maximum permitted number of sickness periods applicable to a claimant, whilst in receipt of that benefit. This means entitlement can continue if this causes them to exceed the maximum of 13 weeks in a 12-month period.

We have also introduced a range of additional measures to support legacy claimants deal with the impacts of the Covid 19 pandemic. We made the decision to temporarily suspend the requirement for face-to-face Jobcentre Plus appointments from 19 March for all claimants on Universal Credit, new styles Employment and Support Allowance and Jobseeker’s Allowance, and legacy benefits. Claimants will continue to receive benefits as normal and they will not be sanctioned for not taking part in appointments with Jobcentres.

We also removed waiting days for ESA for claimants affected by Covid-19, so it will be payable from day one of the claim, subject to the claimant satisfying the normal conditions of entitlement.

We have increased the Local Housing Allowance rates for private renters claiming Housing Benefit to the 30th percentile of local rents. As a result, Housing Benefit claimants will gain on average an additional £600 this year in increased housing support. In addition, we have increased the additional earnings disregard in Housing Benefit from £17.10 to £37.10 per week to ensure that the increase of approximately £20 a week we have introduced to the basic element of Working Tax Credit is not clawed back.