This measure ended on 31 August 2021
In England and Wales and in force from 8 April 2020, the Social Security (Coronavirus) (Prisoners) Regulations 2020 (SI.No.409/2020) made provision for individuals on temporary release from prison to access means-tested benefits during the period of that release. Similar regulations applied in Northern Ireland.
The measure allowed certain prisoners (with two months or less still to serve) to return home on a temporary licence as a way of avoiding the spread of the virus.
The regulations said the temporary release must have been "expedient as a result of the coronavirus disease and in such cases as the Secretary of State (ie the DWP) determines."
They were electronically tagged and could be recalled at the first sign of concern.
In Scotland, justice policy is devolved, and prisoners are released under different powers. Therefore, means-tested benefits can be paid to them as they no longer count as a ‘prisoner’ for benefit purposes and should be able to claim the appropriate benefit if they need to do so.