DWP: Touchbase – 18 December 2020

Roundup of recent DWP announcements

Kickstart Scheme update

Through our Kickstart scheme, DWP is funding the creation of new job placements for 16 to 24 year olds. We have seen a very positive response from employers with over 32,000 roles already approved in the first few months.

We have been continuing to listen and work closely with our stakeholders to ensure that the scheme is working as effectively as it can be for all organisations. We have refined and expanded our guidance to assist applicants with quality advice. Recent developments to the scheme include:

•            Assessment process: improved the process to allow more applications to be successful

•            Smaller employers: made it easier to allow small employers to participate by developing a Kickstart gateway model that works for them

•            Application processing times: reduced the turn-around time for applications by streamlining the process as we roll out the scheme. We will provide a decision within 4 weeks of receiving an application in most cases.

There is more detail in the Written Ministerial Statement published this week.

Personal Independence Payment update

When telephone health assessments were introduced for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) earlier this year, an easement was put in place so that Failure to Attend (FTA) actions did not take place as a result of someone not attending a scheduled telephone assessment.

This was necessary in light of the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic. However, we know it is very important that we are able to correctly assess a claimant’s needs against a set of criteria and a telephone assessment plays a crucial role in gathering the evidence to do this.

From week commencing 14 December, PIP telephone assessment appointment letters will make it clear that claimants must attend their telephone appointment. FTA action will apply, e.g. benefit may be stopped for those who have been issued with this letter and fail to attend without good reason.

No one will have their support stopped without being contacted first. People will be contacted to ask them to explain why they did not, or could not attend or participate in the assessment and where good cause is provided and accepted, support will continue.

Support for employees with health conditions or disabilities

The Access to Work grant scheme provides support to help people with disabilities or health conditions start or stay in work.

The support offered is based on individual needs, and could include a grant to help cover the costs of practical support in the workplace or for those working from home.

An Access to Work grant does not need to be paid back and could pay for a range of different support, including:

  • Support workers
  • Specialist equipment
  • Help with travel costs to work and back
  • Mental health support.

You can find out more about the Access to Work scheme on GOV.UK.

A factsheet for customers explains the support offered, information on eligibility, and how to apply.

Furlough and loan schemes update

This week the Chancellor announced that the furlough scheme has been extended until the end of April 2021 with the Government continuing to contribute 80% towards wages.

This is intended to give businesses and employees across the UK certainty into the New Year.

Small Pension Pots Working Group Report

This week the Government published Working Group recommendations on small pension pots to ensure savers see the full benefit of all of their pensions savings when they reach retirement.

Visit the following links to view the full report and to use the Pension Tracing Service which helps anyone wanting to locate a lost pension pot. Please share this information via your channels.

Important reminders

Advice on what the Brexit Transition will mean for benefits and state pensions

There are new rules: check the living in guides for your host country for important information on benefits, pensions, passports, healthcare, driving licences and pets. They also give advice on how to register for the necessary residency status in each host country and how to register for updates on the Brexit transition. Please share this information via your channels.

UK points-based immigration system

There are new rules: free movement will end from 1 January 2021 and the UK will introduce a points-based immigration system.

The new system will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally. Anyone coming to the UK to work, excluding Irish citizens, will need to apply for permission in advance.