In the news

Our monthly news update includes recent benefits news with links to the latest guidance & case law. Go to the Home page to subscribe to our monthly newletter.

JANUARY 2022

Sick note requirement temporarily eased

Sick notes (or fit notes) will not be needed as evidence for absence from work until at least the end of January.

 

The requirement for people who are unwell to show medical evidence of their sickness has been waived until 27th January. In addition, the length of time required before showing evidence has been raised from 7 days to 28 days.

Guidance has been issued for local authority staff on the easing, which has been brought in to allow medical professionals to focus on administering the booster jab to combat the Omicron variant of Covid 19.

 

It means that anyone on UC/ESA who is unable to work or look for work due to illness before 27th January will not need to provide a sick note to their employer or work coach.

Scotland, N Ireland & Wales

Links to articles, reports, regulations and guidance which separately affect benefits in Scotland, Wales and/or Northern Ireland,  when they differ significantly to those in England or the rest of the UK.

SCOTLAND

Regulations covering entitlement to SCP and Best Start Programme when there are competing claims for the same child

New applications for Adult Disability Payment to launch in pilot areas from March 2022

Regulations on provisions about health assessments for entitlement to Scottish benefits

Regulations to clarify time periods for redetermination of benefits

Scottish budget 2022/23 commits to invest more than £4bn in social security and welfare payments

 

N IRELAND

Terms of reference for new independent review of welfare mitigation measures

Regulations removing requirement for sick note period until 27th January - see main article above)

Reading of bill to extend Bedroom Tax Mitigation Scheme to 31st March 2025

New regulations SR.No.317/2021 and SR.No.318/2021 on protected payments for contributions made after April 2016 and state pension

 

WALES

Better delivery and transfer of appropriate financial support will be crucial to success of devolved benefits system in Wales.

DWP refuses to publish report
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Therese Coffey: What is she hiding?

The government has refused to share evidence it has gathered from disabled people on their experience of the benefits system.

Despite being asked by the Work & Pensions Committee in August and again in September 2021  to share the report's findings, Dr Therese Coffey has repeatedly refused. She denied responsibility for publishing the report in front of the Work & Pensions Committee at the beginning of December, telling them that she had not personally cleared the DWP letter telling disabled people that their views would be shared in a report and therefore had no requirement to do so.

The refusal has been challenged by the Work and Pensions Committee who have now said that they will use parliamentary powers to acquire and publish the report if the government stands by their decision not to share their findings after 11th January.

 LATEST GUIDANCE   

Links to recent government regulations, guidance & bulletins, most recent at the top

COVID 19 economic support package

Government reintroduces SSP rebate scheme for employers

Housing Benefit Circular A11/2021

Housing benefit uprating for 2022/2023

Welfare Direct lite 12/2021

Information on easing of sick note rules for ESA/UC until 27th January 2022

ADM 21/21 and DMG 15/21

Guidance on disregard of payments to victims of historical institutional child abuse and Windrush Compensation Scheme.

Not enough information about bereavement support

The DWP has published its own research and statistics into claimants' experience of the Bereavement Support Payment and found that there is not enough information available about the benefit.

 

In its report BSP Evaluation, the DWP explores claimants experiences of bereavement support and finds that knowledge of BSP before bereavement was low and there was no clear, formal route for finding out more about it. 

 

The benefit, which replaced the Widowed Parent's Allowance in 2017, pays a lump sum followed by 18 monthly installments.

BITESIZE BENEFITS

Quick links to other benefits-related news

Almost 75% of WCAs carried out by phone

The vast majority of WCAs are still carried out by phone, despite a recent increase in face-to-face assessments.

Reduction in face-to-face Jobcentre interviews

Work coaches can continue to offer phone interviews where claimants do not feel comfortable or safe coming into the Jobcentre.

 

How old?

The DWP has launched its second review of the State Pension age, so that's likely to go up again.

Threat to Human Rights in the UK

The Government has outlined its plans to revise the Human Rights Act, including an MoJ consultation, which ends on 8th March 2022.
 

Record wait for WCA clearance

Average end-to-end clearance for an ESA Work Capability Assessment was 150 days in June 2021, the longest average since 2015.

Managed migration to resume in 2022

The government intends to resume its managed migration of people from legacy benefits onto UC in 2022.

Having halted the managed migration pilot in Harrogate during the first Covid 19 lockdown, the DWP Permanent Secretary Peter Schofield had then announced that the government would start in earnest in autumn 2021 to ask those remaining on legacy benefits to 'volunteer' themselves for migration onto Universal Credit.

However, answering a question in parliament, Secretary of State Thérese Coffey has since advised  that people who would not be better off on Universal Credit should wait for the managed migration, which would 'include transitional protection'.

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Snow Storm: Hannibal and his army crossing the Alps

JMW Turner (1815), Tate Britain