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Coronavirus - check if there are changes to your benefits

Mae’r cyngor hwn yn berthnasol i Cymru

The government have made changes which might affect your benefits.

You won’t have to go to any face to face benefits assessments until at least 30 June 2020.

You also won't have to go to appointments at the Jobcentre Plus until at least 19 June 2020, for example:

  • interviews
  • appointments with your work coach

The Jobcentre Plus might still ask to talk to you on the phone.

If you’re waiting for a medical assessment

You’ll keep getting paid the same amount of benefit until your assessment. If your benefits are for a fixed time, the time will be extended until at least 19 June 2020.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will try to assess you without seeing you face to face if either:

  • you’ve already been given an assessment date
  • you’ve made a new claim for benefits like Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

It’s important to send your medical evidence as soon as possible. The DWP will try to assess you by looking at your application form and medical evidence. They’ll talk to you over the phone if possible.

If you’re paying back a benefit overpayment or budgeting loan

You don’t have to make any repayments until at least 1 July 2020 – this includes payments to debt collection companies.

If money is normally taken off your benefits or earnings to repay them, this will stop – you don’t have to do anything.

If you normally repay them yourself, you can stop making payments. If you pay by direct debit, you can ask your bank to cancel it.

If you got an advance payment of Universal Credit, you’ll still have to pay this back.

If you’re appealing a benefit decision to the tribunal

If possible, a tribunal judge will assess your case without a hearing. Instead they’ll make a decision based only on the documents.

Some tribunals have closed so it’s a good idea to check where you should send your documents - you can find contact details for your tribunal on GOV.UK.

Send any evidence you have as soon as possible – for example medical evidence.

If the judge assesses your case based on the documents, they’ll send you a ‘provisional decision’. If you don’t agree with the provisional decision, tell the tribunal you want a hearing instead. 

If there has to be a hearing, the tribunal might suggest a phone call or video conference.

Tell the tribunal as soon as possible if you will find it difficult to have a remote hearing. For example, tell them if you don’t have the equipment for a conference call. You can find out what happens at a remote hearing on GOV.UK.

If you get Universal Credit

At the moment you don’t have to:

  • search for work
  • be available for work

This will continue until at least 30 June 2020. It doesn’t matter what work-related activity group you’re in.

If you’re earning less money because of coronavirus you’re likely to get more Universal Credit. If you’re an employee, you don’t need to tell the government you’re earning less money.

If you’re self-employed

Your work coach can remove or reduce your minimum income floor. This means you might be able to get more Universal Credit. Tell your work coach if you’re:

  • staying at home because of coronavirus
  • having trouble getting work because of coronavirus

Tell your work coach by making a note on your online account on GOV.UK.

If you get Jobseeker’s Allowance

At the moment you don’t have to:

  • search for work
  • be available for work

This will continue until at least 30 June 2020. It doesn’t matter what your jobseeker’s agreement says.

If you get Housing Benefit 

You might be able to get more money if you’re earning less because of coronavirus. Let your local council know as soon as possible.

If you’re struggling to pay your bills, you might be able to get extra help. 

If you get Working Tax Credits

You don’t have to tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) if you're working fewer hours because of coronavirus. Your Working Tax Credits won't be affected until the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Self-employment Income Support Scheme have closed. It doesn't matter if you're not on either of these schemes. 

After these schemes end, you’ll need to tell HMRC about any changes to your hours.

At the moment, you don’t have to tell HMRC about things like:

  • your employer reducing your hours temporarily

  • your employer paying you through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – this is called being ‘furloughed’

  • getting less work if you're self-employed

You still have to tell HMRC if your working hours increase or there are permanent changes to your job - for example if:

  • you're made redundant or lose your job
  • you've stopped being self-employed because you weren't getting any work
  • your hours change permanently 

If you’re earning less than normal

You should tell HMRC – you might get more money.

You’ll only get more money if your income drops by £2,500 across the tax year, which runs from 6 April to 5 April. If you say your salary will drop by this much and it doesn’t, you’ll have to pay back any extra money you got. 

If you don’t think your income will drop by that much, you should check if you would get more money on Universal Credit. If you start claiming Universal Credit, you won’t be able to claim Working Tax Credits anymore. It’s best to talk to an adviser about moving on to Universal Credit.

If you get Carer’s Allowance

You’ll keep getting Carer’s Allowance if you stop caring for someone for a while because you:

  • have or might have coronavirus
  • are keeping away from other people to avoid coronavirus
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