Due to the Coronavirus some people are stuck abroad and struggling to get back to the UK.
There has been no change to the UC regulations, however, it is worth asking the UC dept to continue to pay UC.
We have heard that there is some internal guidance to Housing Benefit staff, advising that they can continue to pay HB where the claimant is stuck abroad and is unable to return due to the Coronavirus travel restrictions. Although, as yet, we have no information about any UC guidance, we feel it is safe to assume that a similar policy would apply to UC.
Therefore, if a UC claimant is stuck abroad (or expects to be) for a month or more, we would advise them to make a request that their UC continues due to the extenuating circumstances. If their UC is suspended or terminated, they should request a mandatory reconsideration of that decision.
If they are not already on UC, we do not think that they will be able to make a new claim for it if they are stuck abroad, even if they have no income for the period they are abroad. However, if claiming UC would be the best option for them (eg they are not currently getting Tax Credits), there is probably no harm in trying, as there might be some internal DWP guidance allowing a new UC claim to be made in these specific circumstances. If they are unable to claim online from abroad, they could make a claim over the phone.
If they are unable to claim and they need help paying their rent, it is worth checking to see if there is anyone else living in the property who may already be getting UC or could make a new claim for it - they may be able to get help with the rent if the DWP considers it reasonable to treat them as liable for the rent in the tenant's absence.