The UK Government has provided guidance to those seeking benefits which has been disrupted due to coronavirus. Below is a summary of key important points.

Changes to jobcentre appointments 

• People receiving benefits do not have to attend jobcentre appointments for at least 3 months, starting from Thursday 19 March 2020.
• People will continue to receive their benefits as normal, but all requirements to attend the jobcentre in person are suspended.
• People can still make applications for benefits online if they are eligible.
• Jobcentres remain open and will continue to support people who are not able to use phones and online, including homeless people.

For people already claiming support

Special arrangements will be in place for people in receipt of benefits who cannot attend reassessments or jobcentre appointments because they are required to stay at home or are infected by coronavirus.

The arrangements are:
• Disabled and sick claimants who cannot attend a reassessment for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit will continue to receive their payments while their assessment is rearranged.
• People who need to claim ESA or Universal Credit because of coronavirus will not be required to produce a fit note. 
• Where claimants tell us in good time that they are staying at home or that they have been diagnosed with coronavirus, they will not be sanctioned – we will review their conditionality requirements in their claimant commitment, to ensure they are reasonable.
• claimants who are staying at home as a result of coronavirus will have their mandatory work search and work availability requirements removed to account for a period of sickness.

People can still make applications for benefits online if they are eligible.

If you’re already claiming Universal Credit and think you may have been affected by coronavirus, please contact your work coach as soon as possible.  You can do this by using your online journal ( ) or calling the Universal Credit helpline: (0800 328 5644).

For people who need to make a new claim for financial support

People who are required to stay at home or are infected by coronavirus may need financial support, and quickly:
• Those affected by coronavirus will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance up front without physically attending a jobcentre
• The 7 waiting days for ESA for new claimants will not apply if they are suffering from coronavirus or are required to stay at home – so it will be payable from day one AT WORK: If you’re self-isolating because of coronavirus (COVID-19), you’ll be able to get SSP from the first day. This will begin from 13 March.

To qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) you must:
• Be classed as an employee and have done some work for your employer.
• Have been ill for at least 4 days in a row (including non-working days).
• Earn an average of at least £118 per week.
• Tell your employer you’re sick before their deadline - or within 7 days if they do not have one.

Agency workers are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay. You will not qualify if you:
• Have received the maximum amount of SSP (28 weeks).
• Are getting Statutory Maternity Pay.

Additional Information:
• Understanding Universal Credit -
• Coronavirus and Claiming Benefits -
• DWP online helpdesk - [email protected]
• DWP Telephone 0800 169 0154