Coronavirus Touchbase special – 17 April 2020

Roundup of recent DWP announcements

Update on Universal Credit

Since 16 March, we have had more than 1.4 million new claims. This level of new claims would present a challenge in ‘normal’ times, but we’ve also had to deal with the knock on effect coronavirus has had on our staffing levels, with around a fifth of our workforce isolating. We responded swiftly to the situation though by increasing resource and redeploying around 10,000 staff from other areas of the Department and expanding remote IT facilities so claims can be processed from home.

The first claims received relating to the pandemic were on 16 March. From 15 April, these first new claimants were able to see how much they would receive, to be paid to them on 22 April. As people are new to Universal Credit and face different circumstances, we encourage you to signpost them to the Understanding Universal Credit website for further information and guidance.

When making a claim, people should do this online where possible. They’ll be asked to input basic information about their personal circumstances and then we will verify their identity. We have switched to a ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’ system now so people do not need to try to contact us after they have completed their online claim. We have publicised this message and would be grateful for your continued support in sharing this via your own channels.

Coronavirus business support

A new Coronavirus business hub is available on GOV.UK. The hub is the first point of call for people seeking government information on support for business.

Looking out for each other – materials to share

A new campaign has been launched to communicate how people can best help friends, family and neighbours in isolation safely. The campaign directs people to visit GOV.UK/safehelp, and explains that if you are well, you should only leave the house for one of four reasons – one of which is to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. The website suggests actions people can safely take.

Please support the campaign by downloading the materials from the Public Health England Resource Centre and sharing to get the message across.

Every Mind Matters campaign update

Public Health England have launched a new phase of their Every Mind Matters campaign, to encourage more people to take steps to improve their mental wellbeing while at home.

A partner toolkit is available on the Public Health England website.