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Coronavirus: Summary of Measures
Summary of measures

Note: Many of the changes that were made have now ended, although some remain in place. See notes below for details.

General

Job Retention Scheme - ended 30th September 2021. Provided a grant to employers to enable them to pay the wages of their workforce who remained on payroll but who were temporarily not working during the Coronavirus outbreak. Click here.

Self-Employed Income Support Scheme - ended 30th September 2021. Provided self-employed people who were eligible for the scheme a taxable grant. Click here.

Test and Trace / Self Isolation Support Payments - For low-income workers. A payment of £500 for people in receipt of certain benefits who normally work, but who are having to self-isolate at home, who are unable to work from home and are not being paid by their employer. Ignored as income for UC, Tax Credits, HB etc Click here

JSA and UC work availability and work search requirements were suspended for 3 months from 30th March 2020 - however since 1st July 2020 new claimants are expected to sign claimant commitments that include work search. Click here.

Jobcentres are open again. At the beginning of the pandemic, all requirements to attend appointments at the Jobcentre in person were suspended for 3 months, starting from Thursday 19 March 2020, although they remained open for the most vulnerable claimants, such as homeless people, and by appointment only. The latest information is that appointments with a work coach could be in the Jobcentre, or by telephone or video. Click here

Face to face medical assessments have resumed. The DWP initially postponed all face-to-face medical assessments for UC, ESA, PIP and IIDB until 19th June 2020 - with paper and telephone assessment replacing some. On 22nd June 2020 they announced an extension of reviews and reassessments. From May 2021 face to face assessments re-started - although where possible, assessments continue to be carried out over the phone or based on paper evidence. Click here

Deductions for debts. The DWP suspended recovery of certain debts from 3rd April 2020 for 3 months. On 3rd July 2020 these debts started to be collected again. 

Council Tax Hardship fund reduced Council Tax Bills by up to £150 for anyone in receipt of Council Tax Support / Rebate in 2020/21. Local Authorities are being funded in 2021/22 so they may continue with the scheme or provide other help to vulnerable people. Click here

Rules to provide support for those children eligible for free school meals if not attending school. Click here

Until 31st August 2021, the rules were amended to allow (in England and Wales) certain prisoners who were released early due to the Coronavirus to claim UC. They did not fall under the definition of 'prisoner' and are thereby were able to claim means-tested benefits (or be included in a claim for means-tested benefits). This easement ended on 31st August 2021 Click here

The part of the Funeral Payment that covers the costs of additional expenses such as flowers, car hire, the funeral ceremony and funeral director charges for making the arrangements increases to £1,000 (from £700) for all deaths on or after 8th April 2020.

Child Benefit can be claimed if you have not yet been able to register the birth due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Click here

Statutory Sick Pay

Payable from day 1 of sickness (rather than day 4).

As getting a fit note could be problematic, employers are urged to use their discretion about what evidence, if any, they ask for.

Where claimants need one, they are able to get an ‘isolation note’ from the NHS 111 Online service.

Those classed as 'self-isolating' are treated as being incapable of work. Special rules were in place for those 'shielding'.

Click here for more details.

New-Style Employment and Support Allowance

The following measures are due to end on 12th November 2021:

Payable from day 1 of sickness (rather than day 8). 

Not required to produce a ‘fit note’ or 'isolation note'. 

Those 'self-isolating' are treated as having a limited capability for work.

Click here for more information.

 

Jobseekers Allowance

Up to 31st August 2021, Jobseekers Allowance claimants were treated as though they were still available for work whilst self-isolating or looking after a child who was affected by Covid. This was so that they did not lose entitlement to Jobseeker’s Allowance because of Coronavirus. This measure ended on 31st August 2021.

 

Carers Allowance

Until 31st August 2021, carers remained entitled to Carers Allowance if they had a temporary break in caring as a result of isolation due to, or infection or contamination with, Coronavirus of either the carer or the person cared for. 

 

Maternity Allowance, SMP, SAP, SPP, SSPP, SPBP

The following rule ended from 30th September 2021.

From 25th April 2020, where a person was a furloughed employee for the purposes of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, their normal weekly earnings (or average weekly earnings in the case of Maternity Allowance) were to be calculated to take into account the sums which they would have earned if they had not been on furlough during the relevant period. 

 

Pension Credit

Claims have been able to be made online since 4th May 2020. This change is intended to relieve pressure on the DWP's telephony system and to allow people to claim state Pension Credit without having to leave their home.

Universal Credit

Temporary uplift of the Standard Allowance increased by £20 a week from 6th April 2020 - ended from monthly assessment periods ending on or after 6 October 2021. Click here.

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) changes from 1st April 2020 – pay for at least 30% of market rates.
This means a ‘re-set’ of LHA rates, which have, in the main, been frozen since 2015. Click here
And hotels and bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) used in the ‘Everyone In’ initiative in England (and similar provisions in Scotland and Wales) to accommodate homeless people and rough sleepers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak may fall under the definition of 'hostel' when considering exemption from the Shared Accommodation Rate. Click here

From June 2021 - Care Leavers excluded from the Shared Accommodation rate up to their 25th birthday. And the rules for those excluded as previously homeless extended to include claimants under 25.

Minimum Income Floor (MIF) suspended for everyone during the Coronavirus outbreak. Being reintroduced from 31st July 2021 Click here

Claimants aren't required to produce a 'fit note' or 'isolation note' to prove they have Coronavirus or are 'self-isolating'. This measure ends on 12th November 2021.

Those who have contracted Coronavirus or are 'self-isolating' AND have written notification that they are not allowed to go to work (we assume an 'isolation note' is enough) are treated as having a Limited Capability for Work (LCW) and therefore entitled to a work allowance if treated as having LCW on date their UC award is assessed

The managed migration pilot that was running in Harrogate has been suspended - click here.

The surplus earnings threshold will remain at £2500 until 31st March 2022 (when it is due to be reduced from £2,500 to £300).

Repayment of Advances From April 2021: New Claim Advances & Benefit Transfer Advances can be repaid over 24 months.

Deduction rates From April 2021: the maximum amount for Third Party Deductions will be reduced from 30% of standard allowance to 25%.

For more information on Coronavirus and Universal Credit - click here.

Working Tax Credit

The basic element of Working Tax Credit is increased by £20 a week for 12 months from 6th April 2020. For 2021/2020 WTC claimants received a £500 lump sum payment instead- click here.

For more information on Coronavirus and Tax Credits - click here

Up to 30th September 2021, where a claimant was furloughed or had seen a reduction in their hours, they were treated as working their normal hours  - this ended when the Job Retention Scheme ended.

Tax Credits 

Up to 30th September 2021, the time limit for critical workers to report changes of circumstances for Tax Credit purposes extended from one month to three. This ended when the Job Retention Scheme ended.

Housing Benefit

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) - for private tenancies - changed from 1st April 2020. This means a ‘re-set’ of LHA rates, which have, in the main, been frozen since 2015. Some claimants have seen a dramatic increase in their award. However for some this means they are now subject to the Benefit Cap. The change in LHA rates has been described by the government as a 'permanent uplift".

And hotels and bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) used in the ‘Everyone In’ initiative in England (and similar provisions in Scotland and Wales) to accommodate homeless people and rough sleepers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak may fall under the definition of 'hostel' when considering exemption from the Shared Accommodation Rate. Click here

Increase in the ’30 Hour’ earnings disregard (given to the majority of claimants who are either getting Working Tax Credit or meet the rules for it) from £17.10 per week to £37.10 a week up until 5th April 2021: it has now reverted to £17.10.

From June 2021 - Care Leavers excluded from the Shared Accommodation rate up to their 25th birthday. And the rules for those excluded as previously homeless extended to include claimants under 25.

For more information on Coronavirus and Housing Benefit click here

 

Scotland

The Scottish Government has temporarily changed eligibility for a number of social security benefits to help people who are impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak. 

The move is to ensure people who can’t get an application in on time due to things such as illness or caring responsibilities can still get the support that they need. 

Taken from here

Best Start Grant - If someone does not get any other benefits, they normally need to be under 18 to be eligible for Best Start Grant. If they could not apply before they turned 18 because of disruption caused by COVID-19, an application will still be considered.

Pregnancy and baby payment - A baby normally needs to be under six months old for a parent to be eligible for Pregnancy and Baby Payment. If they could not apply before the baby turned six months old due to the disruption caused by COVID-19, an application will still be considered.

Early Learning Payment - A child normally needs to be between two years old and three years six months old for a parent or carer to be eligible for Early Learning Payment. If they could not apply before then due to the disruption caused by COVID-19, an application will still be considered.

Funeral Support Payment - If a person could not apply for Funeral Support Payment within six months of the funeral taking place due to the disruption caused by COVID-19, an application will still be considered.

Young Carer Grant - A young carer normally needs to be under 19 years old. If they could not apply before they turned 19 because of disruption caused by COVID-19, an application will still be considered.

Carer's Allowance Supplement - An additional one-off payment of £230.31 was made in June 2020 on top of the normal six-monthly payment.

Council Tax Reduction  - Until 3rd April 2021 there was an increase to the earnings disregard to match the increase in Working Tax Credit. 

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