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Other benefits (COVID 19)

Updates on other benefits during the coronavirus pandemic including carers, children and the recovery of over-payments.

Discretionary Assistance Fund

Welsh Government's Discretionary Assistance Fund provides two types of grants to Welsh residents over the age of 16. These payments are to help families where they have exhausted all other avenues of financial support.

During this crisis, Welsh Government have made the following temporary changes to the criteria for Emergency Assistance Payment (EAP).

Current rules

The Discretionary Assistance Fund (DAF) would normally allow vulnerable clients to receive a paid award up to 3 times in a rolling 12 month period. Clients are also excluded if they have received a paid award in the last 28 days.

Flexibility to support coronavirus impact

However, to provide more help for those households facing exceptional hardship because of the coronavirus crisis, during the period 1 May to 31 July 2020, DAF Service Centre personnel have been told to apply greater flexibility and discretion with regard to the number and frequency of EAP payments that clients may require.

Existing EAP criteria

For EAP applications not linked to coronavirus the existing rules will continue to apply.

Examples of greater flexibility due to covid-19 may include:

  • Waiving the 28 day rule.
  • Increasing the number of awards in a 12 month period up to a maximum of 5 awards.
  • Awards limited to one per week up to the maximum number of awards.

Where greater discretion can be applied

Clients genuinely impacted by coronavirus will be considered under the following:

  1. Lost income and new claim for benefit eg. interim period setting up a new client to DWP benefits or amending DWP benefit for an existing client.
  2. Drop in income and not eligible for Universal Credit eg. one partner loses their income.
  3. Incurred additional essential living expense eg. spending more on gas, electric and food as a result of self-isolating and impact of children being home.

Clients must fill in the coronavirus questions/evidence section in the online application. The application will ask for bank details. Awards will be made by BACS (paid into a bank account). Other payment method will be available for exceptional circumstances eg. no mainstream bank account.

How to apply:

Online: Apply online via the website: https://gov.wales/discretionary-assistance-fund-daf/how-apply

Applications can also be made by post: Download the form - https://gov.wales/discretionary-assistance-fund-daf-application-form

The telephone lines are often busy and telephone applications take up to 20 minutes to complete and we are open between 9.30am and 4.00pm Monday to Friday on 0800 8595 924 (free from a landline) or 033 0101 5000 (local rate).

Carers

Carer's Allowance

Carer's Allowance is a benefit that can be claimed by carers who are providing care for 35 hours a week, have earnings of less than £128.00 per week, are not in full-time education and the person they are caring for receives a disability benefit (Attendance Allowance; Disability Living Allowance with the middle or higher rate care component; Personal Independence Payment with either rate of the Daily Living Component). 

Universal Credit, Carer Element

If you are caring for 35 hours a week and the person you are caring for receives a disability benefit you might be able to receive an additional element within your Universal Credit award;

The word 'care' has not been defined and can include emotional support.  

Carers can continue to be entitled to Carer's Allowance / Carers Element of UC if they have to have temporary breaks in caring due to either you or the person you are caring for either being infected with; or require to isolate due to coronavirus.  

BEWARE: If you receive a payment of Carer's Allowance or the Carer Element within your award of Universal Credit, it could have a significant financial impact on the person you are providing care to. Please seek advice before making  a claim.

 

Child Benefit

Registering a birth of a child has currently been deferred. The General Register Office have confirmed that Child Benefit can be applied for without a birth certificate and verification will need to be provided once the birth of a child has been registered. This should enable other means tested benefits, such as Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit to include child dependent increases, unless the new born is a third or subsequent child in which case the two child rule will apply unless they are exempt.

 

Recovery of tax credit debts; benefit overpayments; social fund loans

The Department for Work and Pensions have confirmed that they are suspending recovery action of benefit overpayments, tax credits debt and social fund loans for a temporary period.

They will not start to recover any new debts and will suspend repayment of any debts currently being recovered, this includes direct debit plans and repayments made to employers.

This action will be undertaken by them, you do not need to contact them. If you currently make repayments through your bank, you will need to contact your bank and cancel the arrangement.

However, advance payments of Universal Credit and rent arrears will continue to be recovered.

Deductions from Universal Credit for Third Party payments

The Department for Work and Pensions temporarily paused third party deductions from Universal Credit claims until 10 May 2020. These deductions include payments for rent arrears, council tax arrears, service charge arrears. Direct payments for rent continued to be paid to the landlord and not be paused. This occurred because staff were needed to process new Universal Credit claims and third-party deductions will resume in your next assessment period from 10 May. 

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