Universal Credit & ESA: DWP urges claims to be made in this way during coronavirus crisis

Applicants and recipients of benefits are being urged to use online services before turning to the telephone, should they need help with their claim during the coronavirus pandemic, the DWP has said. The message followes a rise in new claims, and demand for support over the phone increasing.


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Today, the DWP has taken unprecedented action to make sure people can get the support they need, with this including moving 10,000 existing staff to focus on processing new claims.

In line with recent Government guidance, and an effort to best serve those who need support, the Work and Pensions Secretary has taken the decision to limit access to jobcentres from tomorrow.

It will mean members of the public will not be admitted into jobcentres unless they are directed to do so with a booked appointment.

Under these measures, only the most vulnerable claimants who cannot access DWP services by other channels will be invited to attend.

But, for other members of the public, the DWP is urging peope to use online services.

Additionally, the Secretary of State has also announced today that reviews and reassessments for disability benefits are being suspended for the next three months.

The DWP said the suspension will be kept under regular review and extended if necessary.

These stronger measures have been announced in response to the changing situation amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It has meant more staff are being deployed to process new claims and make payments, with remote support being a top priority for the department.

The DWP has said that around 10,000 existing staff will be moved to process new claims, with 1,000 already in place.

The DWP is also expecting to recruit an additional 1,500 people to aid the effort.

All services can be accessed online and over the phone, the DWP said.


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However, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey is urging people to use online services first, in an effort to help keep phone lines free for those who are in great deal of need for them.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Therese 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.”

The DWP directs people looking to put in a claim for Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance to apply online, and reminds people they can access more information by visiting the Understanding Universal Credit website.

Universal Credit is a payment intended to help with living costs, such as if a person is on a low income or is out of work.

The benefit is replacing six legacy benefits.

These are: 

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Working Tax Credit

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