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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 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  
DWP Touchbase: Edition 137
September 19, 2019
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This edition of Touchbase includes information on:  

  • State Pensions for UK nationals in the EEA or Switzerland
  • Claiming Universal Credit without a National Insurance number 
  • Universal Credit managed payments to landlords
  • Universal Credit improvements to appointment information
  • Pensions campaign encourages people to get to know their pension
  • Funeral Support Payment in Scotland 
  • Warm Home Discount Scheme
  • Apprenticeships campaign

To view the newsletter follow the link below.

http://news.dwp.gov.uk/dwplz/lz.aspx?p1=MMLDUzOTg4NFMwMzA0OkQ3M0VFODZDM0Q1RjAwNEJFNTBEMTZBNDIyN0FCQzlB-&CC=&p=0

DWP Touchbase: Edition 136
August 13, 2019
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Touchbase is brought to you by the Department for Work & Pensions

Recent changes to the DWP ministerial team have meant that some areas of work have moved. Find out where responsibilities now lie

This edition of Touchbase includes information on:   

  • changes to Universal Credit 
  • how to contact a Universal Credit claimant’s case manager
  • the EU Settlement Scheme
  • support for survivors of domestic abuse
  • Working Chance
  • a consultation to reduce health-related job loss
  • volunteering whilst claiming benefits
  • joining Disability Confident
  • Post Office card accounts

To View Touchbase OnlineFollow The Link Below:

https://bit.ly/2YYg2gq

DWP Touchbase: Edition 135
July 9, 2019
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This edition of Touchbase includes information on:

•  changes to Universal Credit
•  a Get Your State Pension video
•  supporting parents in conflict
•  Support for Mortgage Interest videos 
•  Childcare choices – 30 hours awareness campaign 

View on line using the link below

http://news.dwp.gov.uk/dwplz/lz.aspx?p1=MJiDUzOTg4NFM1MTA0OjJCMDZBRERFOEY5RjQ3QTVEMDdEMEE4ODE3NzU0RUIx-&CC=&p=0

DWP Touchbase: Edition 134
May 29, 2019
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This edition of Touchbase includes information on:  

  • Jobcentre Plus arrangements for the Spring bank holiday
  • recent changes to Universal Credit
  • practical tips to manage risk for defined benefit pension scheme trustees
  • the Work and Health Programme
  • Childcare Choices
  • a public meeting for the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council
  • the Workplace pension campaign partnership with Gogglebox
  • the Find a job service being shortlisted for prestigious industry awards

View Touchbase Here

DWP Touchbase Newsletter Edition 133
April 12, 2019
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This edition of Touchbase includes information on:

•  Jobcentre Plus arrangements over the Easter period
•  further changes to Universal Credit
•  calling Universal Credit phone lines
•  the Department for Work and Pensions email addresses
•  the mid-life MOT website
•  the workplace pensions campaign
•  the Regional Stakeholder Network
•  mentoring circles in jobcentres

View Newsletter Here

DWP Touchbase: Edition 132
February 5, 2019
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This edition of Touchbase includes information on:

  • changes to Universal Credit
  • how to contact a claimant’s Universal Credit case manager
  • a new employment-focussed campaign
  • the Help to Save scheme
  • the Workplace Pension campaign

DWP Touchbase: Edition 132

Touchbase: November Budget Edition
November 9, 2018
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In the Budget on 29th October, the Chancellor announced a package of measures worth £4.5 billion to support the safe and secure roll out of Universal Credit.

Key Budget announcements:

  • The Universal Credit Work Allowance will be increased by £1,000 from April 2019. This means that 2.4m households will keep an extra £630 of income each year.
  • Jobseekers’ Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance and Income Support will roll on for the first fortnight of a Universal Credit claim, where otherwise they would have stopped. This will be effective from July 2020, and benefit around 1.1 million claimants.
  • Government is extending the 12-month grace period (the period before the Minimum Income Floor applies) to support all gainfully self-employed people. This will be introduced from July 2019 and implemented fully from September 2020.
  • Claimants can repay overpayments and debt more slowly from October 2019 (from 40% of the standard allowance to 30%), and from October 2021 people will have longer to repay advances.
  • In addition, the Budget provides funding for the announcements made by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in April and June 2018 to support the roll out of Universal Credit.

The Budget in full Read more