Covid-19 - Coronovirus - Information and Changes to Services

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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.

COVID Vaccine for Vulnerable Children aged 12 to 15 - UPDATE

Vulnerable children aged 12 to 15 eligible for a Covid vaccine should have received an invitation for their first appointment by Monday 23rd August 2021.

NHS England has asked local health networks to ensure clinically vulnerable children are vaccinated before school starts in September. But as the deadline for receiving invitations passed, many parents had still heard nothing, while many others reported being told incorrect information by vaccination centres.

If your eligible child has not received an invitation, here’s what you can do: -

  • Contact your GP now and ask them to arrange an appointment immediately. All GP practices were required to identify the eligible children on their registered list by 19th August 2021 to ensure they have access to the COVID-19 vaccination before the start of the school year, even if they have opted out of administering vaccines themselves.
  • If your GP is unaware of the vaccination process, [refer them to this NHS letter], the updated [Patient Group Direction] for administering the vaccine to children, the [National Protocol] which has been updated to include the 12-15 age cohort, the updated [Green Book guidance], and this [FAQ from the NHS] with all the information your GP should need.


  • The NHS recognises that not all eligible children may be identified through the GP record, so GPs must consider any approach by parents of children at increased risk. Your child’s doctor is allowed to use clinical judgement to determine eligibility in line with JCVI advice. Even if your clinically vulnerable child does not meet the criteria, or you are unsure if they are eligible, discuss this with your GP or paediatrician. Ask your GP for a letter confirming your child’s eligibility and take this letter to your [local hospital hub, walk-in centre or vaccination site] to arrange an urgent appointment. Hospital hubs and GPs have been urged to prioritise vaccinating the 12-15 age group so that vulnerable children can be protected.


Parents who are still encountering issues with their GP can contact their Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). [Click here to go to the BSW CCG website]. GP practices that opted out of vaccinating children were required to inform the local CCG of this by 13th August 2021 so that alternative provision could be secured. Your CCG should therefore be aware of your GP’s decision and can help you arrange an appointment.

Don’t be afraid to contact your child’s GP even if you are unsure about their eligibility. Any families who face ongoing barriers can contact the BSW CCG.

More information is available in [Contact’s FAQs for children's vaccines] and also see the [BSW CCG website for regular updates and FAQs].

Links to additional information can be found on [Contact’s website] including: -

  • Which children are eligible
  • More about the COVID vaccine for children and young people
  • Key documents to be aware of
  • Vaccinating children and young people: frequently asked questions
  • Updated Patient Group Direction for administering vaccines
  • Updated National Protocol for the Pfizer vaccine
  • Updated Green Book guidance
  • NHS letter sent to all GPs on 13 August



16 and 17 Year Olds Invited for Covid-19 Vaccine

Young people aged 16 and 17 are now being invited to book their Covid-19 vaccination.

People aged over 17 and 9 months can [make an appointment with the National Booking Service] or by calling 119, or they can attend one of the many [walk in clinics] running every day.

People aged 16 to 17 and 9 months can either wait to be invited by their GP for an appointment, or attend a [walk in session]. Proof of identification at walk-in vaccination centres is not necessary, but having your NHS number would be helpful. [You can find your NHS number online].

Young people will be given the Pfizer vaccine, in line with the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

To encourage take up, a national campaign has been launched across social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok, as well as on radio stations.


Roadmap Out of Lockdown – UPDATE 17th July 2021

On Monday 12th July 2021, the Prime Minister confirmed that Step 4 of the Roadmap will proceed as planned on Monday 19th July 2021.

The WPCC has created a short guide which is intended to try to explain the changes, as most legal restrictions are removed. The guide contains information about changes to restrictions including: -

• Mask wearing
• Vaccinations
• School Bubbles
• Socialising
• Weddings and other Life Events
• Visiting Pubs, Bars and Restaurants

• Work
• Exemptions from the requirement to self-isolate
• NHS Test and Trace Support Payment scheme
• Keeping Yourself and Others Safe
• Free Rapid Testing

You can find all this information and more in our short [virtual booklet], or download the (COVID Roadmap Booklet – Step 4 Guidance) if you prefer to print and keep it to hand.

More detailed information is also available on the [Government website].

Regular Rapid Coronavirus (COVID-19) Tests for People who do not have Symptoms

The government has recently made regular rapid COVID tests available free to people who do not have coronavirus symptoms.

Research says that about 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms but can still infect others; the government and NHS is advising that as many people as possible do a rapid test twice a week (every 3 to 4 days) to check if they have the virus. If people test positive and self-isolate, it helps stop the virus spreading.

The test for people without symptoms of COVID-19 is called a rapid lateral flow test and the tests can give you a result in 30 minutes. They use a device similar to a pregnancy test and do not need to be sent to a lab. You can do a rapid test at home or at a rapid lateral flow test site. If you test positive, you and anyone you live with will need to self-isolate.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you need a different test called a PCR test. [Get a PCR test if you have symptoms of COVID-19 on GOV.UK].

How to get test kits
There are a number of different ways to get free rapid tests.

1. Order tests online
You can get a pack of 7 rapid tests sent to your home. You can only use this service if: -
• you do not have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms
• you’re 11 or older
• you have not been told to self-isolate
• you cannot get tests from your work, school, college or university (ask them for rapid lateral flow tests)

Anyone in your household can use the tests. You do not need to order one pack for each person.

You cannot use this service to book the 2 tests you need to take when you’re in quarantine. You must [book a test from a private provider].

If you do tests at home, you'll need to report your results online or on the phone. [Order rapid lateral flow home test kits on GOV.UK]

2. Collect tests to do at home
You can collect up to 2 packs of 7 rapid tests from a local pharmacy or test site.

If you do tests at home, you'll need to report your results online or on the phone. [Find where to get rapid lateral flow tests]

3. Go to a test site
You can get tested at a rapid lateral flow test site.
If you go to a test site: -
• you may need an appointment, so check before you go
• a trained helper might be able to help you do the test
• you'll get a text or email with the result when it's ready
• [Find where to get a rapid lateral flow test] (tip: filtering your search to identify sites offering booking or no booking will identify test sites nearest to your postcode)

4. School, college and nursery testing
If you attend or work at a school, college or nursery you can get rapid tests through your school, college or nursery.

If you're in a childcare or support bubble with someone who attends or works at a school, college or nursery, you can get a rapid test at a rapid lateral flow test site or order tests to do at home. You're advised to do a test twice a week.
Primary school-age children and younger do not need to test.

5. Employee and university testing
Some employers and universities offer rapid tests. Ask your employer or university if they provide rapid tests.

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].

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.

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.

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.

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].

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]

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.