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Benefits for people who were not working prior to COVID 19

Information about benefits that you received if you were not in work prior to recent events.

Jobseeker's Allowance

This benefit is made up of two elements:  Income-Related Jobseeker's Allowance and 'New-Style' or Contributory Jobseeker's Allowance.  

If you are receiving Income-Related Jobseeker's Allowance it either means that you are unable to claim Universal Credit because you meet the SDP (severe disability premium) gateway conditions or you have been claiming this benefit prior to the roll out of Universal Credit for new claims. Entitlement will continue providing you still meet the criteria or until you are affected by the managed migration to Universal Credit (this means the DWP will contact you and tell you to claim Universal Credit).

To qualify for 'New-Style' or Contributory Jobseeker's Allowance you must have met the relevant national insurance contributions conditions.  

From 30 March 2020 all work search and work availability were suspended for 3 months, which can be extended by the DWP if necessary due to Coronavirus.

Until July it was straightforward that work search and work availability requirements were suspended and sanctions for failing to comply were been removed.  Now it is unclear, the three Swansea Jobcentres remain closed expect for emergencies and interviews remain being done by phone. The local Jobcentre partnership manager has agreed to contact the Welfare Rights Team when the arrangements change, currently there are no dates for the opening of local jobcentres.  As far as we know, you should not be subject to any sanctions until your claimant commitment has been updated and in affect nothing appears to have currently changed. 

The Summer Statement from the Chancellor on 8 July 2020 confirmed that additional work coaches will be employed to assist new claimants to return to work, the effect of coronavirus has meant many more people have needed to claim Universal Credit.  The amount of the flexible support fund available to the Jobcentre staff to help you obtain work or additional work will be increased, as well as additional support for people under 25.  There is a plan for additional support online support from the private sector in the autumn, if you have been unemployed for less than three months, but no details have yet been announced.

  • Department of Work and Pensions Work Coaches are prioritising support as follows:
    1. Newly unemployed claiming Universal Credit
    2. Those claiming 'new-style' (contributory) Job Seekers Allowance
    3. Claimants that have been unemployed prior to the Covid-19 pandemic

If you become sick whilst claiming Jobseeker's Allowance you can continue to claim this benefit for a temporary period. The Job Centre can relax your work related requirements and treat you as not available for work for up to 2 two-week periods of sickness in the last twelve months plus one extended period of sickness for up to 13 weeks. You will need to inform the DWP that you are sick and provide evidence such as a fit note (sick note).

The DWP have confirmed that if you are a person:

  • infected or contaminated with Coronavirus disease (also known as COVID-19)
  • in isolation (as far as we know people 'shielding' in Wales continue to do so until 16 August 2020), so should still be counted as incapable of work.
  • caring for a child or qualifying young person who you receive Child Benefit for and is a member of your household and who is in isolation or infected or contaminated with Coronavirus disease.

You can continue to be entitled to Jobseeker's Allowance and these periods will not count towards the above periods of sickness. If you are displaying symptoms of Coronavirus and those who or have been told to self-isolate because of this disease a self-isolation note can be obtained and you are advised to obtain one to provide this as evidence to the DWP - https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/.

 

Universal Credit

If you were already in receipt of Universal Credit you will continue to receive it. The work related requirements have been relaxed for 3 months. This means that you will not currently be expected to undertake any work search or be available for work.

Claimants who have become infected with Covid 19 or have been told to self-isolate will be treated as having a limited capability for work and will not have to provide fit notes or undergo a work capability assessment. If you are displaying symptoms of Coronavirus and those who or have been told to self-isolate because of this disease a self-isolation note can be obtained and you are advised to obtain one to provide this as evidence to the DWP - https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/

Please see the advice above (under Jobseeker's Allowance) if you are receiving Universal Credit and expected to be available for and actively seeking work.

Employment and Support Allowance

This benefit is made up of two elements: Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance and 'New Style' or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance. Universal Credit has replaced income-related Employment and Support Allowance for new claims; however many claimants are still in receipt of this benefit.

If you are already receiving this benefit you can continue to do so. From 24 March all re-assessments have been suspended for three months. This means that you will not be called for a health care assessment. If your benefit is due to be reviewed, payment will continue until the Department for Work and Pensions contact you.

 

Council Tax Reduction 

If you are already in receipt of Council Tax Reduction and your income or circumstances have changed please report the change online or email benefits@swansea.gov.uk. You can make a new claim online.

 

Housing Benefit 

If you are already in receipt of Housing benefit and your income or circumstances have changed please report the change online or email benefits@swansea.gov.uk. A new claim for Housing Benefit can be accepted in limited circumstances. More information on Housing Benefit

If you are renting from the private sector the amount of help you get due to your eligible rent from the local housing allowance has increased for this year, the current maximum amounts are here: Local Housing Allowance rates.  The over inflation increases are currently for 2020/21 only, although we do not currently know if they will reduce to previous levels next year.

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