DWP Touchbase: 11 December 2020
December 15, 2020
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11 December 2020 Roundup of recent DWP announcements  
Update on the Lifetime Skills Guarantee 
As part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, from April 2021, adults without A-Levels or equivalent will be eligible to study for a free Level 3 qualification to help boost their job prospects and get ahead in work. There are almost 400 courses on offer including; construction, agriculture, digital and health and social care.   As an alternative, Skills Bootcamps offer flexible courses of just 12-16 weeks, giving people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. These are currently available in the West Midlands, Greater Manchester and Lancashire, the Liverpool City Region, the Leeds City Region, Heart of the Southwest, and Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. People who live in one of these areas, can find out more on their local authority website. In 2021, the Skills Bootcamps will expand into new regions with more course subjects on offer. Find out more    
Personal Independence Payment form change 
On 11 January the Personal Independence Payment change of circumstances form PIP2(UI) (How your disability affects you) will be replaced with a new form called the AR1UI (How your disability affects you). The new form aligns the change of circumstances process with the award review process, providing a consistent approach when customers report changes in their needs. Our aim is to reduce the time it takes for customers to complete the form, so we have made it shorter, requiring them to provide less information Customers should continue to return any outstanding PIP2(UI) forms as directed in their letter. Further Information can be found here.    
New scheme to support vulnerable people 
The Government is inviting local organisations to form partnerships and bid for a share of the funding to better support those who experience multiple disadvantages including homelessness, substance misuse, mental health issues, domestic abuse, and contact with the criminal justice system. Find out more  
Advice on what the Brexit Transition will mean for benefits and State Pensions 
Check the living in guides for your host country for important information on benefits, pensions, passports, healthcare, driving licences and pets. They also give advice on how to register for the necessary residency status in each host country and how to register for updates on the Brexit transition. Please share this information via your channels.
DWP Touchbase: 27 November 2020
November 30, 2020
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Roundup of recent DWP announcements.

Touchbase

Restart programme to help over a million unemployed people

This week DWP revealed further details of the £2.9bn Restart programme to help more than a million benefit claimants, which was announced by the Chancellor in the Spending Review. This forms part of the Government’s wider Plan for Jobs to protect, support and create jobs.

Restart is a new programme to help people on Universal Credit within the Intensive Work Search group, who have been out of work for 12 months or longer with no sustainable earnings when they are referred to Restart. They will receive more intensive support, via fortnightly meetings for up to a year, from local providers. Using in-depth knowledge of local jobs and skills markets, providers will work with community organisations, including local authorities, to deliver tailored support for individuals. This may include training to switch to growth sectors by providing support through recruitment stages, updating IT skills and / or getting the right certificates to take up a job in a different industry, such as construction or transport.

The scheme is expected to help more than a million jobseekers over the course of three years and will be available in England and Wales. Support for the long term unemployed in Scotland will be considered separately by the Scottish Government.

Please share via your channels.

Further details on the Spending Review speech can be found here

Attendance Allowance update

Attendance Allowance (AA) review processes are reverting to previous arrangements, after changes were made in response to COVID-19.

The first customers to be affected will be those whose AA awards expire on or after 8 March 2021. These customers will receive renewal packs in the coming weeks and will have the normal 20 week period to complete and return their packs prior to their award expiring. 

Awards that were due to expire before 8 March 2021 will be automatically extended and will continue to receive payments until they are subject to a review at a later date.  

If someone claiming AA has a change of circumstances they still need to inform DWP.

Find out more

Please share this information with your audiences and members.

Self-Isolation Payments

People who are receiving certain benefits could be eligible for a payment of £500 if they have been told to self-isolate, are unable to work from home, and will lose income as a result of self-isolating.

Eligible benefits include Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support and Pension Credit. Other eligibility rules apply. People who are not eligible but who will still face hardship as a result of having to self-isolate may be able to get a discretionary payment instead, depending on their individual circumstances.

Neither self-isolation support payments nor discretionary payments will affect DWP benefit eligibility or payments.

Read more on eligibility criteria and how to apply where you live:

Letters sent to UK nationals to prepare for the Brexit transition

The Government has sent out 365,000 letters to UK State Pensioners and benefit recipients living in the EU to advise them to take action to prepare for the end of the UK transition. The letters included advice on how to register for residency and healthcare and also confirmed recipients would continue to receive their State Pensions as they do now.

The UK Government has allocated £3 million for charities and community voluntary organisations across Europe to assist UK Nationals who may need additional help to register or apply to protect their residency rights. This includes potentially at-risk groups, such as pensioners and disabled people and those living in remote areas or who have mobility difficulties.

UK Nationals can find the most up to date information on actions they may need to take on GOV.UK for their country.

Please share this information via your channels.

DWP Touchbase: 23rd October 2020
October 26, 2020
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Roundup of recent DWP announcements  
 Financial support for businesses and workers increased 
This week the government announced changes to its winter support schemes to ensure livelihoods and jobs across the UK continue to be protected in the difficult months to come, supporting jobs and helping to contain the virus. In recognition of the challenging times ahead, the Chancellor said he would be increasing support through the existing Job Support and self-employed schemes, and expanding business grants to support companies in high-alert level areas. For further information, please visit GOV.UK.  
Universal Credit regulation change for customers who are paid monthly 
DWP has amended Universal Credit for those who are paid monthly by their employer, and occasionally receive two payments from their employer in one month. DWP staff now have the ability to reallocate a second monthly payment from a customer’s employer into a different assessment period. This means that if, for example, people are paid early by their employer due to their regular monthly pay date falling on a weekend or bank holiday they won’t have two wages allocated to one assessment period. This change will come into effect on 16 November.  
Cold Weather Payment 
The Cold Weather Payment scheme is available from 1 November until 31 March. It provides people on certain benefits £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather and is paid automatically. Claimants receiving a qualifying benefit can check if their postcode has been triggered for a paymentFind out more
DWP Touchbase: 16 October 2020
October 19, 2020
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Employers joining the Kickstart Scheme 
As employers sign up for the new Kickstart Scheme, we’re sharing a video from Molinare TV and Film. Watch the video to find out how they are helping young people get a foothold in the creative sector through Kickstart. The Kickstart Scheme funds employers to create job placements for 16 to 24 year olds who are claiming Universal Credit. Businesses applying for fewer than 30 positions over the lifetime of the scheme need to bid through a representative who will help them with their applications, ensure jobs are of good quality and young people receive the right support. Find out more   
Employment and Support Allowance updates Extension of Employment Support Allowance support for those impacted by COVID-19 
DWP has announced an extension of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for those impacted by COVID-19. This means that ESA will remain available from day one to people with coronavirus or who have to self-isolate. Regulations, which came into effect on 13 March for those affected by COVID-19, have been extended for a further six months until 12 May 2021. The regulations remove the seven ESA waiting days, and treat claimants as having Limited Capability for Work without the requirement for fit notes or a Work Capability Assessment. This applies to both new style and legacy ESA new claims and ensures that support is provided as early as possible to those who are affected by coronavirus.  

Helping people follow the process for Employment Support Allowance applications 
When applying for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) it is really important people follow the right process so they get the correct benefit they are entitled to. There are 3 different types of ESA – ‘new style’, contributory and income-related. The type people get depends on their circumstances and it is important they check their eligibility on GOV.UK before making an application. When people have established which type of ESA they are eligible for they need to follow the correct application process as outlined on GOV.UK to make sure they get the money they are entitled to as smoothly as possible. Please share this information within your organisation and with your audiences and customers.   
 Job Support Scheme expanded 
The Job Support Scheme has been expanded to protect jobs and support businesses required to close their doors as a result of coronavirus restrictions Under this expanded scheme, the Government will pay two thirds of employees’ salaries to protect jobs over the coming months. Cash grants available for businesses required to close in local lockdowns, have also increased to up to £3,000 per month. Find out more  
Warm Home Discount Scheme 
Nearly a million pensioners across the UK will automatically receive £140 off their fuel bills as a result of government working closely with energy firms to cut their costs. The deduction, called the Warm Home Discount Scheme, will be taken automatically from energy bills before March 2021, with most pensioners receiving their discounts between now and January. Further information can be found on GOV.UK.  
Call for evidence on in-work progression 
DWP is calling for evidence that will help contribute to future policy on in-work progression. The new consultation is open until 20 November and is seeking views on challenges to progression in low pay sectors, benefits of progression to employers and localities, and examples of good practice across the country. To find out more or to take part, please visit GOV.UK.
DWP Touchbase: 9 October 2020
October 12, 2020
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A roundup of recent DWP announcements  
Job Support Scheme expanded to firms required to close due to COVID Restrictions 
The Chancellor has announced that the government’s Job Support Scheme (JSS) will be expanded to protect jobs and support businesses required to close their doors as a result of coronavirus restrictions. Find out more 
New employment programme launched 
This week DWP has launched Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS), a new programme that will provide employment support for those out of work for three months. Those put forward for the scheme by their Work Coach, will have access to tailored, flexible support to help them quickly get back into employment. The new programme will offer a range of help, including specialist advice on moving into growing sectors, as well as CV and interview coaching. This will give jobseekers the boost they need to return to employment supported by an action plan agreed with their Work Coach, peer support and opportunities to build their skills. JETS will provide employment support to Universal Credit claimants in the all work related requirements group and New Style Jobseekers Allowance claimants who have been unemployed for at least 13 weeks. More information can be found at GOV.UK.  
Local employers join Kickstart 
Suffolk Libraries has become a Kickstart Scheme Gateway, supporting local employers in the area to take advantage of the new scheme creating job placements for young people. In this short clip you can find out why they joined the Kickstart Scheme. Any organisation can apply to become a Kickstart Scheme Gateway, including businesses, local authorities, trade bodies, Chambers of Commerce and charities. The Kickstart Scheme funds employers to create job placements for 16 to 24 year olds who are claiming Universal Credit. Businesses applying for fewer than 30 positions over the lifetime of the scheme need to bid through a representative who will help them with their applications, ensure jobs are of a good quality and make sure that young people receive the right support. Find out more  
Green Homes Grant 
Applications are now open for the Green Homes Grant scheme. The scheme will give over 600,000 homeowners in England up to £5,000 to pay part of the cost of energy saving measures like insulation. Some homeowners on income-based or disability benefits may be eligible for vouchers covering the full cost of improvement, up to £10,000.   
 Materials are available to share with homeowners and tradespeople.
DWP Touchbase: Roundup of Recent DWP Announcements 25th September 2020
September 28, 2020
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Touchbase
DWP Touchbase 25th September 2020
Kickstart Scheme gateways list 

If your organisation or one of your members would like to take part in the Kickstart Scheme but have fewer than 30 placements to offer, DWP has published further advice together with a list of organisations across England, Scotland and Wales that have expressed interest in acting as a Kickstart gateway. 

Kickstart gateways can apply for a Kickstart Scheme grant on behalf of a group of employers and will provide the support each young person needs to make a success of their Kickstart role, increasing their chances of securing sustainable employment in the future.

Find someone to apply for a Kickstart Scheme grant on your behalf

The Kickstart Scheme is a £2bn initiative to help young people claiming Universal Credit, to move into the world of work. It forms part of a range of employment support initiatives announced in the Plan for Jobs in July. 
If you would like to make an application to become part of the Kickstart Scheme, you can find information here.   
Coronavirus measures 

This week, the government announced further national measures to address rising cases of coronavirus in England. 

More information on the changes is available on GOV.UK

Please can you share this update with your members and audiences via your channels.   
 New package to support and enforce self-isolation 

From 28 September, people will be required by law to self-isolate if they test positive or are contacted by Test and Trace. To ensure that people on lower incomes are able to self-isolate without worry about their finances, people in work and in receipt of benefits will be eligible for a new Test and Trace Support payment of £500. 

To be eligible for the Test and Trace Support Payment, an individual must: 
– have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace either because they’ve tested positive for coronavirus or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive;
– be employed or self-employed;
– be unable to work from home and will lose income as a result; and
– be currently receiving Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit. 

Local Authorities will be working quickly to set up these self-isolation support schemes and we expect them to be in place by 12 October. Those who start to self-isolate from 28 September will receive backdated payments once the scheme is set up in their Local Authority. 

Find out more   
Winter Economy Plan The Chancellor has outlined additional government support to provide certainty to businesses and workers impacted by coronavirus across the UK. The package includes a new Job Support Scheme to protect millions of returning workers, extending the Self Employment Income Support Scheme and 15% VAT cut for the hospitality and tourism sectors, and help for businesses in repaying government-backed loans. Find out more 
Plan for Jobs DWP Touchbase Special – 10 July 2020

Roundup of recent DWP announcements 

Plan for Jobs
The Chancellor has presented his ‘Plan for Jobs’ to outline how the government will boost job creation in the UK. During the Coronavirus pandemic DWP has provided a crucial safety net to record levels of claimants, ensuring our customers receive the support they need. We are now doubling the number of frontline Work Coaches to 27,000 by March 2021. These work coaches will support people looking for work including helping them pivot into new sectors and making sure they access any additional support they need including training and work experience. We have also announced a significant package of measures that builds on and bolsters the existing support offered by our jobcentres. In this special edition of Touchbase we’re highlighting key parts of the announcement. You can find out more on GOV.UK.  
New Kickstart Scheme to support young people in work
A £2 billion Kickstart Scheme will provide high quality, 6 month placements from Autumn this year. Funding available for each job placement will cover 100% of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week – and employers will be able to top up this wage.  The scheme will be focused on supporting young people who are on Universal Credit and at risk of long term unemployment. Work Coaches will work with young people to ensure they access the best support package to meet their needs. Organisations across the private, public and voluntary sectors will be able to apply to create high quality roles to be funded through this scheme. 
Youth Offer
We will expand the Youth Offer to support 18 to 24 year olds, this will include a 13-week programme and once completed participants will be encouraged to take up work related training or an apprenticeship. Further support will be provided through the introduction of young people’s hubs where young people can access wider support. These will be co-located and co-delivered with our network of external partners. For those who need a bit more support, we will also expand the Youth Employability Coaches model. These coaches will focus on young people with more complex needs.  
Expanding the Work and Health Programme
The Work and Health Programme in England and Wales will be expanded to provide personalised light touch support for up to 6 months for those who have been unemployed for 3 months. Equivalent provision will also be put in place in Scotland. We will protect access to the Work and Health Programme for participants with disabilities and health conditions, and early access priority groups. We are also developing a new large-scale support offer, targeted at those who are out of work for longer periods and in need of support. 
£150 million to boost the Flexible Support Fund
This boost to the flexible support fund will allow jobcentres to put in place the right support for their community and to increase capacity of the Rapid Response Service that can be deployed for large local redundancies. The Flexible Support Fund allows us to provide funding directly to claimants and partners to target support locally and to address claimants’ specific barriers preventing them from returning to work or provide training. This can include purchasing support to meet one-off needs, for example funding travel to interview costs, equipment or clothing to start employment or paying for replacement adult or child care to enable someone to undertake training, attend interviews or start work. 
Sector-based work academies
We’re increasing participation in our sector-based work academies programme, aiming to support 40,000 jobseekers to get the right skills for the roles that are on offer. 
The sector-based work academy scheme offers training, work experience and a guaranteed job interview to those ready to start a job. We will establish bespoke opportunities, working with employers and training providers to support claimants to fill job vacancies and pivot into new careers. 
Other new measures announced
The Chancellor’s announcement included a number of other measures, including: Businesses will be given £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire under the age of 25. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the Government already provides for new 16-18-year-old apprentices and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan. A £111 million investment to triple the scale of traineeships in 2020-21 ensuring more young people have access to high quality training. Over a quarter of a million more young people to benefit from an extra £32 million investment in the National Careers Service. A Job Retention Bonus Scheme – a one-off £1,000 payment to employers for each furloughed employee that remains continuously employed until 31 January 2021. You can read more about the Plan for Jobs 2020 on GOV.UK
Recommencement of debt recovery 
In March DWP temporarily paused the recovery of overpayments for three months. The change meant that customers saw an increase in the amount of money they received and allowed us to move a significant number of colleagues, to roles where they could support the payment of benefits to those people making new claims. The recommencement of both debt recovery action started on 6 July. Customers affected will be told of this change through letters or updates in their Universal Credit journals.  
Face to face assessment suspension to continue for health and disability benefits 
Face-to-face assessments suspended in March 2020 are to remain suspended, but kept under review following a consideration of the latest public health guidance. As measures are taken across the country to ease restrictions, some review and reassessment activity, which was put on hold because of the coronavirus outbreak, will gradually resume. We will shortly be re-starting review and renewal activity in Personal Independence Payment and Disability Living Allowance, starting with those claims which were already underway when this activity was suspended. Please encourage your audiences and members not to delay making a claim if they believe they need support, or hesitate to update the department about a change of circumstances. All services remain open and telephone and paper based assessments are in place where appropriate. More information  
DWP improves complaints handling 
 DWP is improving the way it handles complaints and making it simpler. The change means we can prioritise the most urgent issues and those involving vulnerable claimants. For more information about the new process visit GOV.UK
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.  
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.