DWP: Touchbase – 26 February 2021

Roundup of recent DWP announcements

Easing of COVID-19 restrictions

This week a four-step roadmap on easing COVID-19 restrictions was announced.

From 8 March our safe exit from lockdown will take place in four steps; and at each step, restrictions will be lifted across the whole of England at the same time. The approach will be guided by data, not dates, so that we don’t risk a surge in infections, hospitalisations and deaths. For that reason, all the dates in the roadmap are indicative and subject to change. There will be a minimum of five weeks between each step: four weeks for the scientific data to reflect changes and for these to be analysed; followed by one week’s advance notice of further easements.

The Government will also continue to support families and businesses throughout the steps set out in the roadmap – details of which will be set out by the Chancellor in the Budget on 3 March.

How you can help

Please help us ensure this important information reaches everybody in your networks by amplifying the messages from the resources provided. Please see resources on the Public Health England website and the Prime Minister/No10 Twitter account.

Access to Work

The Access to Work grant scheme could provide support to enable people with disabilities or health conditions start a new job or stay in work.

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

To check eligibility and how to apply visit the Job Help website.

Also available is the Access to Work easy read factsheet or you can visit the DWP YouTube sign channel for British Sign Language videos about Access to Work.

People who have recently been advised to shield

DWP is committed to supporting the most vulnerable through every stage of this pandemic. People who have been advised to shield should speak to their employer about the options available to them. They may be able to work from home or be eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme, which has been extended until 30 April 2021.

If they cannot work from home they may be eligible for additional financial support through Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

COVID-19 vaccination programme rollout

Today the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) set out proposals for Phase 2 of the UK’s COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Evidence suggests an age-based approach remains the most effective way of reducing death and hospitalisation from COVID-19.

After groups 1-9 in Phase 1, people aged 40 to 49 years are at highest risk of hospitalisation, with the risk reducing the younger you are.

Prioritisation will therefore continue in the following order, once all at-risk groups in Phase 1 have been offered at least one dose of the vaccine:

  • All those aged 40-49 years
  • All those aged 30-39 years
  • All those aged 18-29 years

Other people at higher risk of hospitalisation from COVID-19 include men; those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities; those with a BMI over 30; and those living in deprived neighbourhoods.

JCVI strongly advises that these people promptly take up the offer of vaccination when they are offered and that priority is given to promoting vaccine uptake in these groups. 

JCVI will continue closely monitoring the impact of the programme including vaccine safety, effectiveness and uptake, and will update its advice as required.