Benefit reviews and reassessments suspended for three months
Reviews and reassessments for disability benefits are being suspended for the next three months.
The UK Government said the temporary measure, effective from today, is being taken to reassure vulnerable people about the continuity of their benefits during the coronavirus outbreak and to ensure the Department for Work and Pension’s (DWP) resources are focused on enabling access to financial support for new claimants.
This follows on from a previous announcement to suspend all face-to-face assessments in order to safeguard potentially vulnerable claimants.
Work and Pensions Secretary of State Thérèse Coffey said: “As this country ramps up its efforts to support people through coronavirus, we will do whatever it takes to protect claimants and our staff.
“We are automatically extending all awards and reassessments for health and disability benefits to provide that reassurance to those in receipt of them.”
For claimants, this means:
- there will be no new reviews or reassessments across all benefits for three months – this includes Universal Credit (UC), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.
- face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits have been suspended for the next three months including for any new claims.
- PIP claimants, if an assessment has already taken place this will continue to be processed. If an assessment has been scheduled, claimants will be contacted by the assessment provider to discuss how this will be taken forward.
- ESA and UC claimants whose cases have been referred to the provider will be contacted to take this forward.
The suspension will be kept under regular review and extended if necessary. If people experience a change in their needs they are still encouraged to contact the DWP to ensure they are receiving the correct level of support.
Where awards are due to expire, end-dates will be extended so that claimants continue to receive financial support at their current rate during this period.
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has welcomed the suspension as “commonsense”.
CAS social justice spokesperson Mhoraig Green said: “This commonsense move is very welcome news. CAB advisers have long reported that these kinds of assessments are often distressing and lead to wrong decisions which leave vulnerable people without the support they need. We hope that this change will provide evidence over coming months to show why this change should be extended after coronavirus has passed
“Our view is that these type of face-to-face meetings are rarely necessary and that better decisions can be reached using existing evidence about a persons’ situation, including from their medical practitioners. Suspending them now is certainly the right decision - disabled people have enough to concern themselves with simply by keeping themselves safe and healthy at the moment. They do not need the additional stress of reviews and re-assessments.”
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