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DWP Coronavirus Touchbase Special: 9 April 2020
April 10, 2020
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Roundup of recent DWP announcements

Touchbase
Don’t call us, we’ll call you 
People making new claims for Universal Credit will no longer need to call the Department as part of the process. Instead, a bolstered frontline team will proactively call claimants if they need to check any of the information provided as part of the claim. To help free up our staff to do this, we are asking customers to avoid calling us if they can. The majority of our services are available online and can be accessed 24/7. This will mean our staff can make more calls, ensure claims are progressed as quickly as possible and get cash flowing to help people make ends meet. 
Employment and benefits support website 
Visit the new Employment and benefits support website to keep up to date with the latest guidance and messages on sick pay, existing benefit claims, new claims to benefit, self-employment, housing and more. 
Increases in Universal Credit and other benefits
 On 6 April the government increased the standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit for one year. Both have increased by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating. This applies to all new and existing Universal Credit claimants and to existing Working Tax Credit claimants. Local Housing Allowance rates have been increased to the 30th percentile of market rents. This applies to all private renters who are new or existing Universal Credit housing element claimants, and to existing Housing Benefit claimants. Full list of Rates and Allowances 
Support towards funeral expenses 
Financial support helping families meet the costs of funeral expenses such as coffins and funeral directors’ fees has increased from £700 to £1,000. The change, announced in November 2019, came into effect on 8 April 2020. It means that the maximum amount families can claim for these type of costs will rise by 43 per cent. This payment is on top of existing allowances that pay for other funeral costs, such as burial or cremation fees. Information around eligibility and how to apply can be found GOV.UK
State Pension Adult Dependency Increase ends 
The Pensions Act 2007 ended new claims to State Pension Adult Dependency Increase (ADI) from 6 April 2010. Existing recipients could continue to receive it until 5 April 2020, as long as they continued to meet the qualifying conditions. DWP has sent letters to all those affected twice last year and again this week to remind people of the changes and let them know where they can access support. 
Claim Child Benefit by phone or post 
HMRC is reminding new parents that they will still be able to claim Child Benefit despite the outbreak of coronavirus. Even though General Register Offices remain closed for now, parents can still claim Child Benefit without having to register their child’s birth first to ensure that they do not miss out. Find out more 
Stay Home Save Lives materials to share 
An additional range of public information materials has been produced including other languages and accessible formats. The languages include: Polish, Russian, Punjab, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, Romanian, Romani (for the Roma travelling community), with Somali being available shortly. Please support the campaign by registering and downloading the materials for free and sharing to get the message across. A new public information video is also available to share it on your communication channels: TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn
Chancellor sets out extra £750 million coronavirus funding for frontline charities  
Charities across the UK will receive a £750 million package of support to ensure they can continue their vital work during the coronavirus outbreak. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on 8 April 2020: £750 million pot for frontline charities across the UK – including hospices and those supporting domestic abuse victims£360 million direct from government departments and £370 million for smaller charities, including through a grant to the National Lottery Community Fundgovernment will match donations to the National Emergencies Trust as part of the BBC’s Big Night In fundraiser later this month – pledging a minimum of £20 million
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ESFA: Business Update – Issue 54 (April 2020)

Business update is the Education and Skills Funding Agency’s monthly round-up of apprenticeship information and news for businesses.

Documents
1. Coronavirus (COVID-19): apprenticeship programme response

These are difficult times for employers, apprentices and providers of apprenticeship training and assessment. As part of the cross-government efforts to respond to the impact of COVID-19, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is implementing new measures, for the duration of the pandemic, to make it easier for apprenticeships to continue and complete in a different way if they need to, or to break and resume an apprenticeship later when that becomes possible.

This document sets out guidance and some temporary flexibilities that we are introducing to the programme during the pandemic, and provides answers to questions related to these changes and other common questions. Our information should be read alongside the support to business page on GOV.UK.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE) has also published new guidance on the delivery of assessment.

This guidance includes information on:

  • delivering apprenticeships flexibly to those working at home
  • continuing training and end-point assessment for furloughed apprentices
  • applying the policy on breaks in learning
  • delays to end-point assessment (EPA)
  • alternative arrangements for EPA and external quality assurance

Specifically, we are:

  • introducing flexibilities to allow furloughed apprentices to continue their training, as long as it does not provide services to, or generate revenue for, their employer
  • encouraging training providers to deliver training to apprentices remotely and via e-learning as far as is practicable
  • allowing the modification of end-point assessment arrangements, including remote assessments wherever practicable and possible in order to maintain progress and achievement for apprentices
  • clarifying that apprentices ready for assessment, but who cannot be assessed due to COVID-19 issues, can have their end-point assessment rescheduled. Apprentices whose gateway is delayed can have an extension to the assessment timeframe
  • enabling employers and training providers to report and initiate a break in learning, where the interruption to learning due to COVID-19 is greater than 4 weeks
  • clarification on how to record breaks in learning so that funding is not unnecessarily disrupted
  • confirming that, where apprentices are made redundant, it is our ambition to find them alternative employment and continue their apprenticeship as quickly as possible and within 12 weeks

Our objective for these measures is to support all employers, and apprenticeship training and assessment providers, to retain their apprentices and to help them plan with more certainty through this difficult period of disruption.

Read more on GOV.UK.

2. Route reviews update

Current route reviews

Stakeholder engagement and effective consultation with employers is at the heart of the Institute’s approach to Route Reviews. They are also committed to providing as much stability as possible whilst the apprenticeship system responds to the disruption brought about by COVID-19.

It has therefore been decided to pause the on-going Route Reviews and to postpone the announcement of any outcomes. When the circumstances ease, it is their intention to return to the on-going reviews and they will continue to make preparations for this in the meantime.

The Institute had announced that the Care Services and Health and Science Reviews would be expected to launch during Summer 2020. The impact of COVID-19 makes this inadvisable, so they have made the decision to delay the launch until further notice.

The outcomes of the Digital Route Review are now complete, so they will continue to work with Trailblazer Groups, where possible.

If you have any further queries about a specific Route Review, please refer to the route review section of the website.

If you have any questions on COVID-19 and the Institute’s response please contact Enquiries.IFA@education.gov.uk.

If you have a question about a specific route review please use:

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