Covid-19 - Coronovirus - Information and Changes to Services

From WPCC

Jump to: navigation, search
Section: Coronavirus

Information and Changes to Services


On this page you will find the links to national information and guidance on coronavirus and also advice and updates from local services who are having to work in a different way with children and families. The following is the information we have received this week. Previous weekly updates can be found here


You may also want to take a look at Wiltshire Council's dedicated Coronavirus page on its website [HERE], which will be kept updated with information about Council services that may be affected by COVID-19.

If you have a Learning Disability, it’s not too late to get your COVID-19 Vaccine

People with a learning disability are being encouraged to get their COVID-19 vaccine if they haven’t already. Some people may think that it’s too late or they have missed out, but it is still possible to access the vaccine.

A set of accessible resources has been produced in collaboration with people with lived experience to support clinicians in communicating with people with a learning disability and their family carers: -

• [Covid Vaccine film] produced in collaboration with Skills for People and Learning Disability England
• [Easy read Covid vaccination leaflet]
• [Easy read What to expect after the vaccine leaflet]

• [Easy read adult consent form]

Support Available for Eligible School Families who have to Self-isolate

Wiltshire families are being reminded that financial support is available if they need to self-isolate as a household due to COVID-19, if they meet the eligibility criteria.

If a school or college pupil tests positive for COVID-19 this means the whole household will need to self-isolate for 10 days.

Affected families who are on low incomes and eligible for support can claim a £500 support payment from the Government for having to stay at home for 10 days. The information on eligibility and how to apply is available [HERE]

Claims can only be made up to 42 days after the first day of self-isolation with a support payment of £500, payable in a lump sum.

From 8th March 2021, parents or guardians who are not legally required to self-isolate can apply for a [Test and Trace Support Payment] or discretionary payment if they need to take time off work to care for a child or young person who is self-isolating. For more details and a description of eligibility, click [Test and Trace Support Payment].

Roadmap Out of Lockdown – UPDATE 10th April 2021

The Government implemented its first step to begin easing COVID restrictions on 8th March 2021. The full details are described on the WPCC website and in previous WPCC newsletters.

All being well, we are likely to move into Step 2 of the Government’s easing of COVID restrictions from Monday 12th April 2021: -

Step 2, which will be no earlier than 12 April, will see the opening of: -
non-essential retail;
personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons;
public buildings, including libraries and community centres
indoor leisure facilities such as gyms will also reopen (but only for use by people on their own or in household groups);
most outdoor attractions and settings including outdoor hospitality venues, zoos, theme parks, and drive-in cinemas
self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, can also reopen hospitality venues will be allowed to serve people outdoors at Step 2 and there will be no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks and no curfew, although customers must order, eat and drink while seated (‘table service’).

Wider social contact rules will apply in all these settings to prevent indoor mixing between different households.

Events
While funerals can continue with up to 30 mourners, the number of people able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes will rise to 15.

Only when the government is sure that it is safe to move from one step to the next, will the final decision be made. See the [UK Roadmap Out Of Lockdown - Steps 1 to 4] for a simple infographic that describes steps 1 – 4 of the route out of lockdown.

More information is also available [HERE].

The Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub Taking on Additional Role from 1st April 2021


From 1st April 2021, the Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub will take on an additional role of supporting those self-isolating due to a positive test, or as a close contact where they don't have friends and family to help. The Wellbeing Hub will be able to provide advice or support for individuals who are required to self-isolate and need practical, social and emotional support.

For those who do not have support and need help, the Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub can: -
• Put people in touch with community groups who can help collect and deliver essential supplies such as shopping or medication.
• Help to access a priority online shopping slot with Tesco or Iceland.
• Signpost to sources of financial support and food banks.
• Provide support for those experiencing loneliness.
• Help speak to the right people if someone is on a low income and eligible for financial support. For more information, visit GOV.UK: [Claiming financial support under the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme]

The Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub is available Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm and on Saturday from 10am to 4pm.

Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub contact details
Email: wellbeinghub@wiltshire.gov.uk
Phone: 0300 003 4576

There is also a [COVID-19 Community Groups Directory] which has links to organisations providing help and support.

COVID Vaccine for Unpaid Carers - UPDATE

The WPCC has received the following message from the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire, unpaid carers aged between 18 and 64 are now being invited for a Covid-19 Vaccination.

Unpaid carers are defined by the Care Act as: … people who look after family members, friends, neighbours or others because of long-term physical or mental ill health or disability, or care needs related to old age. This does not include any activities as part of paid employment.

If you are registered as an unpaid carer with your GP practice, or you are known to your local authority or carer organisation, you will be contacted by your GP service to make appointment for a vaccination.

If you receive the Carer Support Allowance (CSA) you can now make an appointment via the National Booking Service at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or call 119 free of charge, between 7am and 11pm, seven-days-a-week. You will be contacted by your GP if you do not make an appointment with the National Booking Service.

If you are not registered with your GP as an unpaid carer, but you care for an older or Clinically Extremely Vulnerable person and feel that you meet the criteria as defined in the Care Act, please contact your GP practice to register. If you do not register, or do not consider yourself an unpaid carer, please remember we won’t leave anyone behind and all adults will be offered a first dose vaccination by the 31t July 2021.

The WPCC would encourage any parent carer who isn't registered with their GP practice as an unpaid carer, to do so as soon as possible. Please don’t contact your GP to request your vaccine. Primary Care Networks have been written to and are being asked to continue to register unpaid carers in line with the Care Act definition. If your GP practice won't register you as an unpaid carer, please let the WPCC know.

Morrisons Doorstep Delivery Service

Morrisons are offering a Doorstep Delivery service available to anyone who's self-isolating, to help them get the groceries they need.

Whether you're away at university or you're elderly or vulnerable, you can order the groceries you need over the phone and pay when they're delivered to your door the next day, by a colleague from your local Morrisons store.

This Doorstep Delivery service is now open 7 days a week. While delivery is free for elderly and vulnerable customers, there will be the option to contribute an optional £1.50 towards delivery. Find out more [HERE]

Helpline for Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic Families

Are you a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic child, young person, parent or carer, affected by Covid-19? Barnardo’s has set up a helpline called Boloh to help and support you. Boloh is Barnardo’s COVID-19 helpline and webchat for those 11+, if you are a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic child, young person, parent or carer, affected by Covid-19. You can speak to them about your worries, problems and stresses during this time, and they can provide emotional support, practical advice and signposting to other organisations who can provide further help.

If you’re a professional, you can also contact Boloh to discuss how to support a child or young person you are working with.

They are available to talk Mon-Fri from 10am-8pm, and Sat-Sun 10am-3pm.

Boloh helpline advisors can talk to you in English, Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi or Mirpuri, and their psychotherapists can provide therapeutic support in English, Hindi, Bengali, French, Punjabi, Greek and Spanish. They also have interpreters available for other languages.

Visit the [Boloh website] for more information: webpages can be translated into multiple languages by selecting your language when you visit the website.

Call Boloh on: 0800 1512605 or chat to them online.

COVID Vaccines for Personal Assistants

Do you use a Personal Budget or Direct Payment to employ a Personal Assistant (PA) to support your child, young person or someone else you care for? PAs can go to their GP and ask to be registered for a COVID vaccination, as they are in the health and care priority group to receive vaccinations. It is likely your PA will be asked for proof of employment and we have attached this template letter (Key-worker-letter-for-IEs) from skills for care that can be used and adapted; thank you to Wilts CIL for kindly sharing this letter with us. You can find this template letter along with lots more information for employers on [Wilts CIL’s Website]

Carers’ Allowance

If you want to apply for Carers’ Allowance, you can use this form to claim Carers’ Allowance by post if you can’t claim online. [APPLICATION FORM]

Advice for People Struggling to Pay Essential Bills

GOV.UK has a [NEWS LINK] with advice for those in difficulty with utility bills, or repayment commitments on credit cards, loans and mortgages, as a result of coronavirus. In response to the impact of coronavirus, the government agreed a raft of measures with providers across a range of sectors to ensure struggling consumers are treated fairly.

Explaining Vaccines to People with Learning Disabilities and/or Autism

NHS England have developed a [film for people with learning disabilities and/or autistic people about vaccination]. It is co-presented by a young person with a learning disability and describes what a vaccine is, how vaccines are made, why you should get a vaccine, whether a vaccine makes you ill and how to decide whether to have a vaccine.

Public Health England (PHE) has produced an Easy Read guide called: [A guide to your COVID-19 vaccination]

The Cabinet Office has produced a guide to Lockdown: [What you can and cannot do]

Codeword Scheme for Domestic Abuse Victims

From 14th January 2021, victims of domestic abuse will be able to access support from thousands of pharmacies across the UK. The government has teamed up with independent pharmacies and Boots to launch a domestic abuse codeword scheme.

The [Ask for ANI scheme] allows those at risk or suffering from abuse to discreetly signal that they need help and access support. By asking for ANI, a trained pharmacy worker will offer a private space where they can understand if the victim needs to speak to the police or would like help to access support services such as national or local domestic abuse helplines.

WPCC Outreach and SENDIS

Our Outreach staff will continue to support those families they are currently working with online and by telephone, but we are unable to visit familes except in exceptional circumstances. All staff are working remotely and having invested in technology that supports mobile working early in 2020, we are able to continue to operate our telephone helpline and email support to respond to enquiries, and support and signpost as best we can. This will be dependent on staff wellbeing and we may have to review if circumstances change.

Temporary Scheme to Increase Data Allowances on Mobile Devices to Support Disadvantaged Children

This scheme temporarily increases data allowances for mobile phone users on certain networks. This is so that children and young people can access remote education if their face-to-face education is disrupted. You may be able to get help if you do not have fixed broadband at home, cannot afford additional data for your child’s device or if your child is experiencing disruption to their face-to-face education.

Please take a look at the following link for full details and liaise with your school if you think you may qualify for the scheme: [Data Allowances on Mobile Devices]

Please Note: Any requests for an increase in mobile data has to come from either schools or the Local Authority, not directly from parents.

Beware of COVID Scams

In recent weeks a number of attempted scams have emerged across the country, including: -

  • people receiving text messages informing they are 'eligible' to apply for a vaccine and then asking them to provide bank details
  • people receiving text messages that claim to be from the HMRC inviting them to claim for a 'grant'
  • scammers looking to take advantage of businesses applying for business grants


People are urged not to provide their banks details in response to any email, phone call or text from anyone claiming to be part of the NHS vaccine programme. Bank details, passwords and pin numbers will never be requested as the COVID-19 vaccine is free and this should be an automatic red flag.

Wiltshire Police have said that the same vaccine text scam has also been reported as being conducted over the phone. The caller often asks for a number to be pressed on their keypad, resulting in a charge likely being added to their phone bill, so you simply need to hang up if you receive one of these calls.

We are keen to prevent as many people falling victim to these scams as possible, please share the warning with as many people as you can. If you do receive a suspicious text, you can forward it to 7726 which is free of charge.

If you have been a victim of cyber fraud, or you suspect fraud, please contact [Action Fraud]. If you suspect a caller at your door is involved in a COVID-19 scam you should call the police immediately on 999.

Easy Read Coronavirus Resources

Wiltshire Centre for Living has kindly shared details of some Easy Read resources that may be useful to anyone supporting young people with SEND during the ongoing pandemic. The resources have been produced by [Keepsafe.org.uk].

o[Back in Lockdown]: an Easy Read poster that explains what we can and can’t do now we are back in lockdown.

o[Covid vaccine - who gets it first?]: an Easy Read poster that describes the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation priority list.

o[Keeping safe]: an Easy Read poster that explains how to try to prevent catching COVID-19.

o[The NHS is open]: an Easy Read poster encouraging us to continue to seek medical help if we need it.

o[If you get ill]: an Easy Read poster explaining what to do if you have signs of coronavirus.

Lots more Easy Read posters are available via: https://www.keepsafe.org.uk/, including: what a support bubble is, why we wear PPE, getting a coronavirus test, what food banks are and who they are designed to help, domestic abuse.

* Each poster is also available as an audio version *

Financial Support if Test and Trace Requires You to Self-Isolate because of COVID-19

If you or someone you know is on a lower income and are required to self-isolate because of COVID-19, you may be eligible for a support payment of £500, payable in a lump sum. To receive this payment, you must: -

  • have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace after Monday 28th September 2020, and have a unique Test and Trace number provided by the NHS 7
  • be a Wiltshire resident
  • be employed or self-employed
  • have lost income by being unable to work from home while self-isolating
  • be receiving at least one of the following benefits: -


Universal Credit
Pension Credit
Housing Benefit
Income Support
Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
Income-based Employment Support Allowance
Working Tax Credit


For details on how to apply for a Test and Trace Support Payment, please visit the Wiltshire Council website: www.wiltshire.gov.uk/benefits-test-and-trace. Alternatively you can apply by calling 0300 456 0110 or email any questions to benefits@wiltshire.gov.uk.

Coping with COVID-19

Please see a [new animation] about national help and support for families and where to find it, reflecting services newly commissioned because of COVID-19.

This is one of four videos created by Respond with the theme of 'Coping with Covid'. Covid-19 has brought change and uncertainty for everyone, but families who have loved ones with a learning disability and/or who are autistic, are likely to find this period of time even more challenging than most. This animation includes contact information for national charities and organisations who may be able to help: [Coping with COVID animation].

New in-work Job Support Scheme to Replace the Current Furlough Scheme

The government has announced that [a new in-work job support scheme will replace the current furlough scheme from November] in order to try and protect 'viable' jobs over the next six months.

The new in-work Job Support Scheme is intended to support workers and businesses affected by Covid-19 through the winter months. It will start from 1st November 2020 and is expected to last six months.

The Government has also decided to extend the self-employment income support scheme to April 2021, although the amount of help provided is changing.

COVID-19 Information - Quick Guide for Parents/Carers

Local colleagues from Public Health have put together a ‘COVID-19 Information - Quick Guide for Parents/Carers’. It explains COVID-19 symptoms and how to respond in different situations. It’s in a ‘What to do if …?’ format, along with what action you need to take and when you can let your child return to school. Click here to take a look at the symptoms response poster.

Wiltshire Council has been allocated £1.586 million from a £300 million government fund to work with the NHS and a range of local partners to ensure a joined-up local approach in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak. They have published the Wiltshire Local Outbreak Management Plan (LOMP) which sets out their plans to help Wiltshire respond quickly and effectively should there be a local COVID-19 outbreak, protecting residents and supporting the most vulnerable.

Sudden - Support service for people bereaved by COVID-19 or in any other sudden ways now available


Hospitals and police forces are now able to refer people bereaved in sudden ways (including by COVID-19 and any sudden illness, incident, or suicide), from day one of bereavement, into a new, government-funded, England-wide, professional, free and specialist sudden bereavement service (set up as a pandemic response and for the long term).

The service, Sudden, is by a well-established charity that is experienced in helping suddenly-bereaved people through trained and named caseworkers, operating over the phone. Sudden provides free support and advocacy for up to 10 weeks, with a focus on safeguarding and wellbeing outcomes. Please visit their website: http://www.suddendeath.org/ or call their helpline 0800 2600 400.

Exemptions from Wearing Face Coverings

The WPCC has previously shared information about those exempt from wearing face coverings on public transport etc. Please see our [newsletters] for further information about exemptions or the [Government Guidance] (section 5 covers exemptions).

We have been hearing from some parent carers who are distressed having been challenged by the public if their children or young people aren’t wearing face coverings. The WPCC does not as a rule promote services or products that are chargeable, but in recognition of these most unusual times, we are aware of face mask exemption cards, lanyards and clip badges that can be purchased from Disability Horizons. The WPCC is not endorsing these products by promoting them, and this is an exception to our normal practice. You can choose: -

  • Mask exemption travel card plus lanyard plus badge clip
  • Mask exemption travel card plus lanyard
  • Mask exemption travel card plus badge clip only


Prices vary between £3.95 and £5.95 (inc. VAT) depending on the option you choose. Please visit the [Disabled Horizons website] for more information. Please also remember you can download and print a free exemption template from the [WPCC website].

See, Hear, Respond - Barnardo’s COVID Support

Barnardo’s have launched the See, Hear, Respond service to support at-risk and vulnerable children and families during COVID-19, and help reduce potential levels of harm through online and digital support, face-to-face interventions, and targeted work with children who will need help reintegrating back into school.

The service is open to any child who does not have other support networks at this time who you are concerned about. There is no threshold of need or harm that has to be reached to receive a service. However, it is important to note that this service is not a substitute for existing statutory support. If you are concerned that a child is at risk of significant harm then a referral should be made to Wiltshire MASH. If you feel a child is likely to need long term child in need support then a referral into MASH is likely to be a more effective option. This service is aimed at those children who are not receiving support, or who have not met thresholds, but because of COVID-19 and wider problems are struggling and them and their families would benefit from some immediate help in the short term.

If you are concerned about your child/young person, or feel that a young person, (who can refer themselves), can be supported by this service, then please follow the following links for information, support and referrals: -

See, Hear Respond Hub Support: [Support Hub]
See, Hear, Respond Referral Parent/Carer: [Parent Carer Referral]
See, Hear, Respond Child/Young Person Referral: [Self Referral]

There is also a Freephone number for children and families who wish to self-refer, Free phone: 0800 157 7015


Face Covering Exception Rules for People with Learning Disabilities and Autistic People

As of Monday 15th June 2020, everyone must wear a face covering when on public transport if they can, but importantly there are exemptions for those who need it.

People with certain health conditions, disabled people, people who are autistic, people with learning disabilities and children under the age of 11 will not be required to wear a face covering if to do so would cause them distress, harm or cause problems for people who need to lip read or use facial expressions to communicate. This exemption also applies to others whose wearing of a face covering would cause distress, harm or communication problems with the person they are travelling with.
Photosymbols has produced an exemption card template for people to use: simply cut out the relevant card and keep it on you to show while travelling. For the full template click TEMPLATE.

NHS Every Mind Matters

Having good mental health helps us relax more, achieve more and enjoy our lives more. On this site there is expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing including topics such as: tips if you’re worried about coronavirus; sleep; looking after children/ young people; working from home; loneliness, etc.

Click on the following link to find out more - [Every Mind Matters]

Exemption from Wearing Face Coverings on Public Transport

The intention behind the new face covering rules that came into force on June 15th 2020 is to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The regulations could see people fined or told they cannot travel if they fail to wear a mask.

People with autism are among the group of people who are exempt from new rules insisting everyone must wear a face covering on public transport.

Find out more on who is exempt on the government website [HERE]

Also please see the First Bus information which includes how to print out or screen shot on your mobile phone an “Extra Help to Travel Card” (Journey assistance card) which you will be required to show the driver when you travel.
[First Bus Face Coverings Exemptions]

The National Autistic Society (NAS) 'I am autistic card' can also be downloaded free and printed, should that be considered helpful too.
[Autism Card]

Carers Allowance – Changes During Coronavirus Pandemic

If you receive the Government’s Carers Allowance, there are some changes that have happened as a results of the COVID-19 crisis: -

  • Providing emotional support counts towards the 35 hours’ threshold needed for receiving Carer’s Allowance. This applies to: -

  • Carers who live in a different household from the disabled person and whose only contact with them is now going to be in the form of emotional support via the telephone and social media.
  • New claims as well as for those already receiving Carer’s Allowance.

  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, new measures (from 30th March 2020) also allow unpaid carers to continue to claim Carer’s Allowance if they have a temporary break in caring, because they or the person they care for gets coronavirus or if they have to self-isolate because of it.


  • The Government has decided to stop recovering overpayments for three months during this period. This includes benefit overpayments, tax credit debts or social fund loans. Although most deductions will be stopped automatically, if you have a standing order set up with your bank, you will need to contact them to stop the payments.


You can find more information about Carers’ Allowance Easements on the [DWP Touchbase website], as well as updates on other benefits and DWP services.


Government Online Tool to Support with Finding Help

The Gov.uk website has been updated to include “Find Help” which is a signposting tool to support people who may be struggling due to coronavirus. The site covers a range of circumstances and concerns, including feeling unsafe, going in to work, paying bills or being unemployed, getting food, having somewhere to live, and mental health and wellbeing. While the tool will not provide direct support from the government or organisations through this service, it aims to provide some relevant national information and advice - https://www.gov.uk/find-coronavirus-support

Benefits Information – Coronavirus

The Department for Work and Pensions has a dedicated website with information regarding the coronavirus and benefits which it is updating daily: please [DWP website].

The website provides information about coronavirus and claiming benefits. Please check this page regularly for updates on the arrangements the Department for Work and Pensions is making to support those who are affected by coronavirus. Currently on the website, there is information about changes to Statutory Sick Pay, changes to Jobcentre appointments, changes to health and disability-related benefits’ assessments, and making a new claim.

DWP Update - September 2020

New Work and Health Programme - employment support for claimants who have been unemployed for at least 13 weeks
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is launching Job Entry: Targeted Support (JETS) on 5th October 2020.

The DWP is extending the existing Work and Health Programme (WHP) to provide early access to labour market support for those made unemployed due to Covid-19.

JETS provision is a new offer which is distinct and separate from WHP. JETS will provide light touch employment support for claimants who have been unemployed for at least 13 weeks and are in receipt of Universal Credit (UC), All Work Related Requirements (AWRR) group and New Style Jobseekers Allowance.

Participation in JETS is primarily voluntary, although work coaches may expect some claimants to attend the scheme as part of their Claimant Commitment. Claimants will remain on the provision for 6 months.

The JETS offer is based on getting participants into employment, building on providers’ links with employers at local level. It will include (but is not limited to): -

  • assessment of employment support needs
  • help with IT skills, job search, CV writing, interview support
  • skills analysis including identifying transferable skills to consider different employment sectors/routes and ways of working
  • broader confidence and self-efficacy building
  • support for anxieties about working in a Covid-19 environment including potential access to mental health and wellbeing support
  • signposting to skills, support and other support and training, including WHP and Intensive Personalised Employment Support (IPES) if more intensive support needs are identified and they are eligible



DWP Update - June 2020

Sign Language Videos on Coronavirus and Benefit Changes
The Department for Work and pensions (DWP) has produced a range of British Sign Language videos on Coronavirus and benefit changes. These include new content for Universal Credit and Statutory Sick Pay.

You can view these videos on the [DWP YouTube Sign channel].

It is planned to add videos regarding Access to Work, PIP, Carer’s Allowance and Child Maintenance in the near future.


DWP Updates - 27th April 2020

Help if You are Looking for Work or Looking for Staff

From Monday 27th April, the DWP has launched new [JOBHELP] and [EMPLOYERHELP] websites. These offer labour market information for people looking for work now, and advice for employers to help recruit them.


Video Relay Service for Universal Credit

The Video Relay Service (VRS) has now been extended to people claiming Universal Credit. Over the coming months VRS will be further extended into all DWP services. VRS is already available for British Sign Language (BSL) people who claim DWP disability benefits as well as Access to Work.

VRS enables BSL people to contact DWP via a BSL interpreter. You simply use a video link accessed through your computer, smartphone or tablet. The interpreter will then speak to a DWP agent relaying the conversation by phone. There is no need for anyone to be in the same location and you do not have to book the service in advance.

This means that you and the DWP agent can have a telephone conversation in real time.

[Find out more]


New Style Employment and Support Allowance online claims

You now apply for New Style Employment and Support Allowance online, where you are not already claiming Universal Credit.

Making an application online instead of over the phone should streamline the process to allow greater access to claimants and speed up processing times.

People who are unable to use the new online service can continue to make an application over the phone and the normal reasonable adjustment process continues to apply for anyone who needs it, for example using Braille or large print communications.

For anyone who has applied for Universal Credit, or is already receiving Universal Credit, they should sign in to their Universal Credit account and use their online journal to inform their work coach or case manager about applying for New Style Employment and Support Allowance.

More information is on [GOV.UK]

UPDATE from DWP on Benefits Support - 22/04/2020
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has experienced a huge increase in claims and our phone lines have been extremely busy as a result. We have taken urgent action to boost capacity, by moving large numbers of existing staff to help our front line colleagues, and we’re recruiting more.

New claims to Universal Credit should be done [online] where possible. Customers do not need to call DWP to arrange an appointment and they shouldn’t attend the jobcentre.

People making new claims for Universal Credit no longer need to call DWP as part of the process. Instead, a bolstered team are calling claimants back if they need to check any of the information provided as part of the claim. This change has been in effect since 9th April 2020. It should free up phone lines for those unable to claim online.

All of this will mean our staff can make more calls, ensure claims are progressed as quickly as possible and get much needed support to those who need it.

Key websites
GOV.UK is the primary site for all the key information to support individuals, businesses and other organisations. Here is a link to the dedicated pages [GOV.UK: Coronavirus], which includes information on how to stay safe.

DWP’s employment and benefits support
The [Employment and benefits support] website includes the latest guidance and messages on sick pay, existing benefit claims, new claims to benefit, self-employment, housing and more.