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DWP Touchbase: CORONAVIRUS SPECIAL – 3 July 2020
July 7, 2020
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Roundup of recent DWP announcements 

Expanding our service offer in jobcentres We are working with local managers to start expanding our service offer in jobcentres to help get Britain back into work. Work Coaches are calling claimants – no one needs to contact us. We don’t want to sanction anyone. These are difficult, uncertain times for many people and we want to do everything we can to help them find work or increase hours, where that is possible for them. No sanction will be used until the claimant has an up-to-date Claimant Commitment in place. After that, a sanction will only be used where a claimant has not provided good reason for meeting the agreed requirements in the Claimant Commitment. Claimants who are shielding, have childcare responsibilities because of COVID restrictions, etc. will have their Claimant Commitment tailored to reflect their circumstances and will not be asked to do anything unreasonable. 
Wirecard service update Following the lifting of restrictions placed on accounts provided by Wirecard, customers will now be able to use their pre-payment cards again. This means that if you receive payments of any kind from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), into accounts held by companies associated with Wirecard, they will continue to be paid into these accounts as normal. Those customers who have been impacted can find more information here
EU Settlement Scheme
There is still one year to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. Around 3.3 million have already been granted status and there is plenty of support available. EEA citizens and their family members are encouraged to apply now.  
Prime Minister announces New Deal for Britain
This week the Prime Minister announced a ‘New Deal’ which sets out the first steps in government plans to invest £5bn to accelerate infrastructure projects, fuelling jobs and economic recovery, that will benefit every corner of the country. 
Find out more   
Other government announcements
Detailed plans have been unveiled for all children and young people returning to full-time education from September. For the second phase of a major independent review into drug abuse, Dame Carol Black has launched a call for evidence and will engage with a wide range of stakeholders, hearing from service users and people with experience of drug addiction to build a detailed picture of treatment, recovery and prevention.  Transport will play a fundamental role in getting people back to work and restarting the country as sectors reopen. To help make sure journeys are safe the Department for Transport has published updated guidance for passengers and operators.  
More Than 1 Million Young People Could be Jobless by 2021, Think Tank Warns
July 6, 2020
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Youth unemployment could top one million by the end of the year – highlighting the scale of the jobs crisis facing an entire generation of young people, a new report warns.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank estimated that an extra 620,000 people aged between 18 and 24 will be jobless by the end of the year, on top of the 410,000 already unemployed.

This will be the highest number of young people unemployed on record, surpassing the levels seen in the 2008-9 and 1990s recessions, said the report.

This level of youth unemployment should be a major cause for concern, according to the IPPR, as being out of work at an early age can cause serious “scarring effects” on people’s life chances including lower wages, increased risk of further unemployment and worse health into later life.

A £3bn government intervention was needed to ensure everyone under the age of 25 is in education, training, apprenticeship or a job, said the report.

Harry Quilter-Pinner, IPPR senior research fellow, said: “We face an unemployment crisis in the UK. Our analysis suggests youth unemployment could more than double by the end of the year. This would be a huge waste of talent and potential. It doesn’t have to be like this.

“That’s why we are calling on the government to step in to guarantee all young people either a funded place in education, an apprenticeship or a job.

“This will require the state to support businesses to take on young people, just as it has supported them to retain adults through the furlough scheme.”

A government spokesperson said: “We are doing everything we can to protect our economy and ensure there are options for young people, with the Opportunity Guarantee announced earlier this week ensuring every young person has a chance of an apprenticeship or in-work placement.

“Alongside our package of support for business, our nationwide network of Work Coaches are already matching jobseekers to new roles as we get Britain back working again. The National Careers Service is also providing help and advice to young people who have been furloughed, made redundant or had their exams cancelled.”


DWP Connected Community Recruitment Support
June 15, 2020
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DWP commissions partners across the country to support jobseekers and employers to come together. 

Each partner delivers a service that enables jobseekers to access sustainable work in a local area with an employer like you. 

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, this site will enable you to connect with your local DWP partner to quickly fill vacancies. 

They will help you identify jobseekers with suitable skills for your roles and prepare them to begin working for you.  To find out more visit https://www.dwppartners.co.uk

© The Prime Providers Partnership

DWP Touchbase: Coronavirus Special – 15 May 2020
May 18, 2020
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Roundup of recent DWP announcements  
Benefits information available via WhatsApp:
People can now access the most up-to-date benefits and support information via their smart phones, using WhatsApp. The service, which can be accessed by sending ‘Hi’ in a WhatsApp message to 07860 064 422, has been launched to help combat the spread of incorrect information and to make the correct information easily accessible. The GOV.UK service currently has more than 312,000 unique users, and has sent more than 2.6 million messages since its launch on 25 March 2020. DWP is one of the first government departments to provide information via the service which includes information on benefits support available, how to check if you are eligible and how to apply. 
Information on furlough:
We’ve updated our Employment and Benefits Support site with information about furlough. The page offers straightforward information about what furlough is, eligibility, how furlough interacts with benefits and guidance and signposting on taking alternative work while furloughed.    
Job Retention Scheme update
The Coronavirus Job Retention scheme will be extended for four months until the end of October. After July, greater flexibility will be introduced to the scheme, allowing employers to move out of it in a measured way that protects people’s incomes and helps support furloughed employees as they return to work. This will run for three months from August through to the end of October. During this period, employers currently using the scheme will have more flexibility to bring their furloughed employees back to work part time. Further information can be found on GOV.UK.  
Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)
The government, in consultation with industry, has produced guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible. There are 8 guides that cover a range of different types of work. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe.  
Safeguarding customers
As part of the DWP’s commitment to safeguarding customers during COVID-19, 10 regional Senior Safeguarding Leader roles have been introduced. The roles will be in place for three months initially and will act as an escalation point when a solution cannot be found locally. They do not replace existing routes into DWP where there is concern about a customer. As active members of multi-agency boards in their regions, they will work with partners to find resolutions for customers at risk and take forward any service design or policy issues. For details of your local Safeguarding Leader please email DWP Customer Safeguarding Team.  
Find out what you can do if you are struggling because of coronavirus (COVID-19)
Use this GOV.UK service to find out what help you can get if you are affected by coronavirus. You can use it for yourself or someone else. You can find information about: feeling unsafegoing in to workpaying bills or being unemployedgetting foodhaving somewhere to livemental health and wellbeing
DWP Touchbase: CORONAVIRUS SPECIAL – 7 May 2020
May 11, 2020
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Roundup of recent DWP announcements  
Latest Universal Credit statistics Wednesday 6 May saw the biggest number of new Universal Credit claims paid in a single day. This was the first payment day for the 135,000 people who made a claim for Universal Credit over the 30th and 31st March.   Of the eligible claims, more than 9 in 10 have been paid in full and on time. Since the pandemic began, around 1.8 million claims have been made to Universal Credit and almost 700,000 advance payments made to people. You can see the latest Universal Credit statistics here.   
Access to Work – new measures to support customers To ensure disabled people remain supported in work through this period we have introduced new measures for Access to Work. These include: prioritising new applications from critical workers and those starting work within the next 4 weeksextending the timeframe to submit claim forms to 9 monthsextending Support Worker awards that are coming to an end, by 6 monthsaccepting employer and support worker signatures via emaildelivering workplace assessments and Mental Health Support Services via telephone or accessible alternatives. More information  
Information about claiming Universal Credit when you are in receipt of legacy benefits As part of our continued effort to be transparent and ensure people have the information they need when considering whether or not to make a benefit claim, we have produced a new animation. The animation informs people in receipt of legacy benefits, like tax credits, that applying for Universal Credit will impact their eligibility for legacy benefits. It also signposts them to a benefits calculator so they can work out themselves whether they would be better off on Universal Credit.
 
Please feel free to share this animation through your social channels: TwitterFacebookLinkedIn.   
Self-employment and Universal Credit Universal Credit is a flexible benefit and will adapt to a claimant’s income each month. If you represent people who are self-employed, it’s important they let us know about any income they have received, so their Universal Credit payment can be processed. This includes reporting if no income has been received in any given month. People who apply will be prompted to report their income and expenses in their online account as they get close to their payment date. More information
 
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme HMRC are contacting customers who may be eligible for the new Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. The scheme will allow customers to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their average trading profits up to a maximum of £7,500, equivalent to three months’ profits. People can check if HMRC think they are eligible for the scheme by using the new online checker. The checker also gives the date from which they can make a claim.  
Pension Credit online service We’ve introduced a new service so pensioners can now apply for Pension Credit online. This will supplement the existing telephone and postal claim services. It will enable customers to make a claim without having to leave home to post forms or wait to get through on the phone – helping them also to adhere to social distancing and shielding measures. To ensure security for customers any personal information will be sent direct to DWP. We will also only pay people into the verified account that they get their State Pension paid into. More information  
Post Office card account applications Applications for Post Office card accounts will end for all customers from the 11 May 2020. This change applies to new claims only and does not affect customers with an existing account.  Customers who are unable to be paid via DWP’s standard method into a bank, building society, or credit union account will be offered payment via HMG Payment Exception Service at new claim stage. 
DWP Procurement Survey
April 27, 2020
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ERSA has been asked to collect information for the DWP.

Please note that this is in addition to the Sector Resilience survey. Responses are anonymous and requested from ALL organisations.

The DWP is considering the timescales for when to go out to market for the Employability and Health Related Services Umbrella Agreement (EHRSUA), this will replace the current Umbrella Agreement.

Depending on the structure of your organisation, this survey should be completed by a Chief Executive, Managing Director, Business Development or equivalent.

Please allow 5-10 minutes to complete the survey, by 29 April, 5pm

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ERSADWP

The Employability Sector Resilience Survey – deadline extended to 30 April, 5pm

Please set aside 20 minutes to complete the survey – every question in the survey is relevant and will gather information that will be used.

Responses will be anonymised. The data collected is being analysed by ERSA with Oxford University.

ERSA will be using the survey information to inform on how Covid-19 has affected the sector, organisations that have furloughed staff, innovation in delivery, capacity to take on additional work and organisations struggling to survive.

We are also populating a UK map showing who delivers where, to develop partnerships in localities.

Please complete this to inform employability commissioners and funders of the current situation and the sector’s readiness to respond.

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/NNY6HNX

DWP Coronavirus Touchbase Special – 24 April 2020
April 20, 2020
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Roundup of recent DWP announcements  
Update on Universal Credit Claims 
More than 1.5 million new claims have been made to Universal Credit since 1 March 2020. People who made their claims when lockdown first began started to receive payments from 22 April, with 93% of people forecast to receive their payments in full and on time. Where people haven’t been paid, it is often due to the claimant needing to provide information, such as a correct bank account number, and DWP staff will attempt to contact claimants to fill in any blanks. The latest figures also show that in the four-week period to 12 April over 513,000 advances were paid to those urgently in need of money. More information and guidance about Universal Credit can be found on the Understanding Universal Credit website. Neil Couling, DWP Change Director General and Senior Responsible Owner for Universal Credit has also written a blog on how we’re delivering support. 
Video relay service for Universal Credit 
Video Relay Service (VRS) has now been extended to customers claiming Universal Credit. Over the coming months VRS will be further extended into all DWP services. VRS is already available for British Sign Language (BSL) people who claim DWP disability benefits as well as Access to Work. VRS enables BSL people to contact DWP via a BSL interpreter. The customer uses a video link accessed through their own computer, smartphone or tablet. The interpreter will then speak to a DWP agent relaying the conversation by phone. There is no need for anyone to be in the same location and the customer does not have to book the service in advance. This means that the customer and DWP agent can have a telephone conversation in real time. Find out more   
New Style Employment and Support Allowance Online Claims 
People can now apply for New Style Employment and Support Allowance online, where they are not already claiming Universal Credit. Making an application online instead of over the phone should streamline the process to allow greater access to claimants and speed up processing times. People who are unable to use the new online service can continue to make an application over the phone and the normal reasonable adjustment process continues to apply for those who need it, for example using Braille or large print communications. For anyone who has applied for Universal Credit, or is already receiving Universal Credit, they should sign in to their Universal Credit account and use their online journal to inform their work coach or case manager about applying for New Style Employment and Support Allowance.  More information is on GOV.UK
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme 
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is now open for applications. Employers can claim online for a grant for 80% of their furloughed employees’ salaries, up to a maximum of £2,500 per employee, per month. A simple, step-by-step guide is available for employers on GOV.UK
Support for Domestic Abuse Victims 
The Home Office has launched a new campaign to raise awareness of the support available to domestic abuse victims and those around them during Covid-19. A partner pack is available including social media assets, leaflets and posters. Please help us reach as many people as possible by sharing this material through your channels.  
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
Find our more
DWP Touchbase: CORONAVIRUS SPECIAL 30 March 2020
March 31, 2020
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Access to jobcentres now limited 
Access to jobcentres is now being limited with members of the public only admitted if they are directed to do so with a booked appointment.  Only the most vulnerable claimants who cannot access DWP services in other ways will be invited to attend. In the meantime, services should be accessed online and over the phone if required. New claims for Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance should be made online. For more information visit the Understanding Universal Credit website. We are taking urgent action to boost capacity, including moving 10,000 existing staff to work on new claims with 1,000 already in place, and will recruit a further 1,500 staff to aid the effort. 
Chancellor gives support to millions of self-employed people 
On Thursday 26 March, the Chancellor announced a package of support for people who are self-employed. Further information can be found on GOV.UK.  
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme 
The Government has published further details and guidance for theJob Retention scheme. This includes information on pension contributions. 
Reviews and reassessments for disability benefits suspended for three months 
There will be no new reviews or reassessments across all disability benefits for three months; this includes Universal Credit (UC), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. This measure is effective from Tuesday 24 March and follows on from a previous announcement to suspend all face-to-face assessments for these benefits. For PIP claimants, if an assessment has already taken place this will continue to be processed. If an assessment has been scheduled, claimants will be contacted by the assessment provider. ESA and UC claimants whose cases have already been referred to the provider will be contacted to progress those. Further information can be found in the press release
Stay at Home, Save Lives Public Health England launched its nationwide Stay at Home, Save Lives campaign on Monday 23 March. The campaign gives the most up to date Coronavirus information; detailing the only reasons that someone can The government will look again at these measures after three weeks,leave their home, with the key message of ‘Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’.  The government has introduced three new measures: Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes.Closing certain businesses and venues.Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public. The government will look again at these measures after three weeks. Public Health England has produced a range of materials across print, social, digital, TV and radio that can be shared to get the message across. 
HMRC – change of contact number As people across the UK are staying at home, HMRC have noticed some strain on their network provider. HMRC have now changed their helpline number to ensure those needing help and support can keep reaching their advisers.   The new helpline number is 0800 024 1222 and is open from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday. Calls to the old helpline number will be redirected, but please refer customers to the new helpline number where possible. 
DWP Coronavirus Touchbase special – 23 March 2020
March 23, 2020
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Changes to jobcentre appointments and Universal Credit 
People receiving benefits no longer need to attend jobcentre appointments. People will continue to receive their benefits as normal, but all requirements to attend the jobcentre in person are suspended. These changes will be in place for 3 months from 19 March 2020. Anyone already claiming Universal Credit who thinks they may have been affected by coronavirus, should contact their work coach using the  online journal, orcalling the Universal Credit helpline.   On Friday the Chancellor announced that the standard rate in Universal Credit and tax credits will be increased by £20 a week for one year from 6 April.  People applying for Universal Credit, Employment Support Allowance or other benefits should not go to a jobcentre but apply for them onlineStay at home, protect the NHS, save lives
Information for employers and businesses 
The government has announced an extensive package of financial measures, including the Job Retention Scheme, a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium enterprises, and deferred VAT and Income Tax payments.  Employers with fewer than 250 employees, will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay for employees unable to work because of coronavirus. This refund will be for up to 2 weeks per employee. Employers are urged to use discretion about what evidence, if any, is asked for when making decisions about sick pay. If evidence is required, employees can get an Isolation Note from NHS 111 online if they have symptoms, or the NHS website if they live with someone that has symptoms. Coronavirus Business Support The business support website is available to help businesses find out how to access support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the scheme opens and how to apply. Advertising job vacancies For businesses that find themselves needing to increase workforce as a result of the outbreak, such as food logistics, preparation and retail, please remember to post vacancies on Find a Job
Suspension of face to face assessments for sickness and disability benefits 
Face to face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits has been suspended. This is being taken as a precautionary measure to protect vulnerable people from unnecessary risk of exposure to coronavirus. We will ensure those who are entitled to a benefit continue to receive support, and that new claimants are able to access the safety net. This affects claimants of Personal Independence Payment, those on Employment and Support Allowance and some on Universal Credit, as well as recipients of Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. These changes will be in place for 3 months from 17 March 2020. The suspension of face-to-face assessments also covers new claims to those benefits. Find out more
£1bn package of additional support for renters 
The Government has announced a package of measures to protect tenants and landlords affected by coronavirus. Renters will receive nearly £1bn additional support, through increases in the generosity of housing benefit and Universal Credit.  From April 2020, Local Housing Allowance rates will pay for at least 30% of market rents in each area. Other measures to protect tenants and landlords include: Emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation while this national emergency is taking place.No new possession proceedings through applications to the court to start during the crisis.Landlords will also be protected by extending the three-month mortgage holiday to Buy to Let mortgages. 
 As a result, no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time.   Find out more
The current NHS guidelines on coronavirus, including advice on those who should stay at home  Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do   Online isolation notes launched – providing proof of coronavirus absence from work  Guidance for schools, childcare providers, colleges and local authorities in England on maintaining educational provision