Roundup of recent DWP announcements
Support for those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine
People arriving in the UK from Ukraine can now find essential benefits information on a new web page set up by DWP.
The new web page is accessible via the Department’s Understanding Universal Credit website, at Support for those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine – Understanding Universal Credit.
People arriving in the UK from Ukraine because of the Russian invasion can apply for financial help immediately, as well as access tailored job support.
Ukrainians can apply for benefits and other types of financial support from the day they arrive in the UK.
Translation services are available to help new arrivals with phone applications, and work coaches in DWP Jobcentres are on hand to support people making claims online.
DWP staff are also delivering additional face-to-face assistance to those who need it – including tailored support to find work and advice on benefit eligibility – and will continue to do so.
Also announced last week, people who sponsor a Ukrainian individual or family will not see their household benefit entitlements affected.
Household Support Fund doubled to help most vulnerable tackle cost of living
The Household Support Fund (HSF) has doubled to £1 billion with £500 million of new funding.
The six-month extension will help pensioners and families, as the Government takes further steps to help with the rising cost of living. People can continue to access support through their Local Authority, ensuring those most in need get the help available.
A third of the funding will be ring-fenced to support families with children, while another third will be dedicated to pensioners. This ensures the people who need it most will continue to receive vital support to meet essential household costs.
Using their local knowledge, Local Authorities will decide how to best use the remainder of the fund within the scope set out by ministers. Previous funding has supported households with food, clothing, energy and water costs, and this extension will ensure that support continues through to the autumn.
See the full press release: Household Support Fund doubled to help most vulnerable tackle cost of living.
Fit note changes
From 6 April the way GPs sign fit notes is changing. GPs will be able to authorise fit notes digitally without the need to print and sign them. This means instead of a handwritten signature in ink, fit notes will have the doctor’s name included in the form, which can either be printed or sent digitally to patients.
These changes do not otherwise change the purpose and function of the fit note. While this is being rolled out the existing fit note will still be legally valid and should be accepted until we notify that it is being withdrawn.
Get Help Arranging Child Maintenance digital service
Get Help Arranging Child Maintenance has replaced Child Maintenance Options. It is available 24/7 and is the first step for customers seeking information about child maintenance arrangements.
The service explains customers’ options and includes information about family-based arrangements as well as the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), which, if chosen, generates a unique reference number the customer needs to make their application.
Customers unable to use the online service and who have no one to help them can speak to a CMS case worker on 0800 171 2345.
Customers in Northern Ireland must still use Child Maintenance Choices.
New money guidance from Money and Pensions Service
The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) has launched new guidance to help people manage changes to the cost of living. Its focus is on people who have not yet missed payments on their bills or credit commitments, but who are at serious risk of doing so.
The guidance on its MoneyHelper website helps people manage their money in uncertain times. These resources and tools are aimed at people who:
- Are struggling to keep on top of their bills and payments
- Have experienced a reduction in income or squeezed budgets
- Are self-employed
- Have been or are worried about being made redundant or losing their job
For people who are already missing payments on their bills or credit commitments, then free debt advice services are available via MaPS’ advice locator tool.
Have you had your say on cross-government complaint standards?
Over recent months DWP has been working with the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) and other government departments to develop new cross-government complaint standards. These standards will provide a consistent set of expectations for how all government services should handle complaints. The public consultation on these standards has been launched and we are keen to hear what you think of them. Your views matter and will be critical to improving complaints handling for everybody. The consultation will close on 31 May.
New support for seafarers and maritime employers
The Government has launched a new recruitment website for seafarers and maritime employers, aimed at supporting the recovery and development of the transport industry. The website specifically targets P&O Ferries workers recently made redundant, as well as the wider sector.
This is part of a new set of measures announced by the Transport Secretary to protect seafarers, including banning ferries that do not pay their workers the National Minimum Wage from docking at British ports. This will close a legal loophole between UK and international maritime law and mean that more than 21,000 seafarers across the UK will be protected from being undercut, putting the UK ahead of any EU state in its protection on pay.
The suite of measures means British seafarers are recognised as some of the most highly skilled worldwide and the UK’s Maritime 2050 strategy sets out a plan for a fairer global maritime industry.
Read the full press release: Extra protections for seafarers as government introduces new maritime laws.
Living with COVID
From 1 April changes to COVID-19 testing in England have been introduced. Further information including who can access free tests and how to get them can be found on GOV.UK.
There are also resources to help you keep your networks informed.
In addition, The UK Health and Security Agency has produced a stakeholder pack, Living Safely with COVID that also includes information for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.