All benefit reviews and assessments have been suspended for three months due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced.
The temporary measure, effective from today (24 March), follows a previous announcement to suspend all face-to-face assessments in order to safeguard potentially vulnerable claimants.
It means that there will be no new reviews or reassessments across all 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.
And face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits have been suspended for the next 3 months including for any new claims.
The DWP says that where claimants have recently undergone a review or assessment the process will continue and those affected will be notified about the outcome in due course.
Where an assessment has already been scheduled, claimants will be contacted by the assessment provider to discuss how this will be taken forward. ESA and UC claimants whose cases have been referred to the provider will be contacted to take this forward.
Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “As this country ramps up its efforts to support people through coronavirus, we will do whatever it takes to protect claimants and our staff.
“We are automatically extending all awards and reassessments for health and disability benefits to provide that reassurance to those in receipt of them.”
It has also recently been announced that people curently receiving benefits do not have to attend Jobcentre appointments, also for at least 3 months.
The DWP are keen to stress that if someone needs to make a new claim they should, wherever possible, do this online or over the phone because Jobcentres are limiting access to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 Coronavirus.
Thérèse Coffey said: “Our jobcentres are fully committed to supporting people facing challenges during these extraordinary times.
“To help people most effectively and efficiently, we need people to claim online. If you cannot get online, phone us for help and we will only see people face to face in our jobcentres if invited.”