Roundup of recent DWP announcements
COVID-19 Autumn and Winter Plan 2021
This week the Government published the COVID-19 Response – Autumn and Winter Plan 2021 setting out plans for autumn and winter 2021/22 in England.
The Government will aim to sustain the progress made and prepare the country for future challenges, while ensuring the NHS does not come under unsustainable pressure.
The Government plans to achieve this by:
- Building our defences through vaccines and treatments
- Identifying and isolating positive cases to limit transmission
- Supporting the NHS and social care
- Advising people on how to protect themselves and others
- Pursuing an international approach: helping to vaccinate the world and managing risks at the border
To support the plan, Public Health England has produced digital assets including explainer videos as well as posters that are available to download.
Also, there is evidence that vaccine protection can reduce over time, so there is a booster vaccine campaign for those at greatest risk which includes those aged over 50, frontline NHS and care workers in all four nations of the UK.
Shielding programme ends for the most vulnerable
People previously considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) will not be advised to shield again following expert clinical advice.
This decision is based on there being far more information available on the virus and what makes individuals more or less vulnerable; the success of the COVID-19 vaccination programme; and the emergence of proven treatments to support improved outcomes in clinical care pathways.
Those previously on the Shielded Patient List will receive a letter from the Government in the coming days to inform them of this decision.
People aged over 16 with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 will also be prioritised for vaccinations as part of a booster programme.
Post Office card accounts closure delayed
The Post Office card accounts (POca) scheme was previously set to end in November this year. Following the disruption caused by the pandemic, it has now been extended for 12 months to ensure everyone has the time to make alternative arrangements.
The Department for Work and Pensions is writing to all customers who currently receive payment into a POca, telling them the service is ending and encouraging those who are able to open a bank account to do so.
Those who remain unable to access such services will be migrated onto a new Payment Exception Service, which allows them to choose how they receive their payments.
Sanctuary Scheme update
From 1 October 2021 there will be a Sanctuary Scheme exemption from the removal of the spare room subsidy. This exemption applies to claimants in the social rented sector whose home has had additional security installed under a Sanctuary Scheme due to domestic violence. Eligible Universal Credit claimants can claim the exemption by contacting their work coach or case manager. Housing Benefit claimants should speak to their local authority.