DWP: Touchbase – 5 March 2021

Roundup of recent DWP announcements


Key points from this week’s Budget announcement

Extension of furlough and support for the self-employed

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be extended until the end of September. Employees will continue to receive 80% of their current salary for hours not worked. The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will continue with a fourth and a fifth grant. More than 600,000 people, many of whom became self-employed in 2019-20, may now be able to claim direct cash grants under SEISS.

Universal Credit uplift and advances repayments

The Government also confirmed a temporary 6-month extension to the £20 uplift and a one off payment worth £500 for Working Tax Credit claimants.

From next month new claimants will be able to spread Universal Credit advances repayments over a 24-month period and the maximum rate of deductions from Universal Credit will be reduced for all to 25%. Reducing the maximum deduction rate to 25% of a claimant’s standard allowance will allow more than 350,000 families with significant debts to retain more of their monthly award for their day-to-day needs. 

Changes to the Shared Accommodation Rate

To support young people during this difficult time the Government has brought forward the implementation date for changes to the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR) by over two years from October 2023 to June 2021. Care leavers under the age of 25 and those who have spent at least three months in a homeless hostel, who would otherwise have the shared accommodation rate of the Local Housing Allowance applied, will be able to claim the higher, one-bedroom rate from June 2021. 

Statutory Sick Pay

In response to COVID-19, the Government introduced a rebate scheme for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) that would reimburse small and medium sized employers for up to two week’s SSP costs in respect of any of their eligible employees who was unable to work due to being sick or having to self-isolate or, where they were not furloughed, to shield due to COVID-19. The scheme will continue to operate beyond April, in line with other support schemes.

 State Pension correction exercise update

We became aware of issues with State Pension underpayments in 2020 and took immediate action to investigate the extent of the problem. This is an issue that dates back many years across successive governments. Rectifying these cases is a priority for the department and we will do it as quickly as possible. Where underpayments are identified, the department will contact the individual to inform them of the changes to their State Pension amount and of any arrears payment they will receive in accordance with the law.

Driving take-up of Pension Credit

Pension Credit can help to top up the income of retired people, even if they already get a pension or other income. And getting pension credit can also mean other help with council tax, housing benefit, or a free TV license for the over 75s.

Everyone getting State Pension will be receiving their annual uprating letters around now, which includes information about Pension Credit.

Please help us to promote Pension Credit to older people and those that may be supporting them, like family, friends and local organisations.

The Pension Credit stakeholder toolkit includes a range of social media assets you can use. And we’ll keep updating it over the coming weeks.