Department Work & Pensions Update

The latest important updates including financial support, housing, benefits and childcare.

HMRC Webinars

To support businesses and employers HMRC are offering live webinars on a variety of COVID-19 related topics (link is external) such as: Job Retention Scheme, Job Retention Scheme - How to make a claim, Self-employment Income Support Scheme and Statutory Sick Pay rebate scheme. They also have links to support and step by step guides on their YouTube channel.

Customers Stranded Abroad and Unable to Return to the UK

A number of DWP customers are stranded abroad because their return travel arrangements have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus restrictions currently in place.

Guidance is available for individuals in receipt of benefits who are unable to return to the UK (link is external). This also links to guidance on financial support (link is external) whilst staying abroad during coronavirus.

Childcare Costs

Guidance is available on the reimbursement of childcare costs (link is external) for individuals already claiming UC. Childcare costs that have been paid for and reported, for childcare that has been provided, will be reimbursed as part of the UC claim as normal. Any childcare costs that have been paid for and are intend to be reported, for childcare that has been provided, will also be reimbursed as part of the claim as normal.  Whilst the government’s response to coronavirus is in place, only critical workers will be able to access UC childcare. Further detailed guidance is available here

Tax Credits

Advice is available for claimants already receiving tax credits (link is external). Tax credit claimants should check eligibility criteria for UC (link is external) before they submit a UC claim.  If they currently receive tax credits from HMRC please be aware that if they submit a claim for UC their tax credit award will end immediately. Further information here

Cash Shortages

DWP have received reports of cash shortages at a small number of Paypoint outlets due to increased public use of contactless payments. If a claimant contacts UC because they are unable to obtain cash from a Paypoint outlet, advise them to: Use the Paypoint store finder (link is external) (link is external)to identify nearby alternative Paypoint outlets. Call i-movo on 0207 960 2570. The claimant should leave a message that provides contact details and they will receive a call back. Please note that the i-movo telephone number is for use only when outlets report that they can’t or won’t provide cash. Claimants should use the normal Paypoint Helpline number of 0800 310 0000 for other queries.

Touchbase

Touchbase are producing special editions, that are currently being issued on a weekly basis, so that employers and partners can get updates on DWP announcements. These are being emailed out to subscribers and are not being published on GOV.UK. Here is the latest edition - Coronavirus Special - 01 May 2020

Furloughed Workers - Parental Leave

Furloughed workers planning to take paid parental or adoption leave (link is external) will be entitled to pay based on their usual earnings rather than a furloughed pay rate. The statutory instrument laid in Parliament will ensure workers whose period of family-related pay begins on or after 25 April will be assessed on their usual, full pay.

New Enterprise Allowance Statistics

NEA statistics (link is external) for the period up to 31 December 2019 are available on GOV.UK.  The headlines show:

·247,000 starts to the programme

·137,000 businesses setup through the programme

·8 in 10 starting NEA were on UC

Guidance for Social Landlords

The guidance (link is external) makes clear that essential moves should continue over this period, where it can be done in line with social distancing guidance. This includes domestic abuse victims who may be fleeing abusive relationships, people who are homeless and leaving temporary accommodation or individuals leaving hospital.

HMRC Help and Support

HMRC produce a bi-monthly Employer Bulletin  - The April edition is available here (link is external) and includes headlines on the Job Retention Scheme, Statutory Sick pay Rebate, Deferral of VAT payments, support to employees and tax consequences and benefits and tax credit updates.

Bounce Back Loans

From 4 May the Bounce Back Loan scheme will enable small to medium sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 - £50,000. Further details here. (link is external) Businesses can not apply if they are already claiming under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

Support for Bereavement Services - Wales

Cruse Bereavement Care Cymru (link is external) has been awarded extra funding of £72,000 from the Welsh Government  to help it respond to an expected increase in demand over the coming months. The additional funding will help to recruit and train new volunteers and provide further training for existing volunteers to increase the numbers of people they can support.

Council Tax Reduction Scheme - Wales

The scheme already supports 300,000 low-income households with their council tax bills (link is external) but with many more people facing financial hardship due to the coronavirus crisis people are being urged to check if they are now eligible for help.

Digital Innovations to Support Vulnerable People

People who may be particularly vulnerable or isolated during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, including new parents, the homeless, unpaid carers, young people and cancer patients, could soon benefit from a range of innovative digital solutions (link is external) selected as part of the TechForce19 challenge.

New Platform for Defence Personnel

 A new platform (link is external) has been launched with online tools to help defence personnel to take a more proactive approach to their mental health and mental fitness. HeadFIT (link is external), designed specifically for the Defence community, provides 24/7 access to self-help tools that can enhance mood, drive and confidence, and help Defence people manage the stresses of everyday life.

Minister for Housing and Local Government - Wales

The Minister Julie James AM made a statement (link is external) This covers a range of topics on the impact of the pandemic. Things covered include: support for rough sleepers, help for tenants and emergency services.

SoS for Work and Pensions

Theresa Coffey attended an Extraordinary G20 Leaders' Summit on the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the speech (link is external).

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