In the news

JUNE 2020

Our bitesize benefits news page includes the latest benefits news, guidance, training updates & case law. Please let us know if there is anything you would like us to include next month.

Widespread calls to remove benefit cap

There have been widespread calls for a removal or temporary lifting of the benefit cap this month as COVID-19 related benefits' increases have pushed many people's earnings over the cap limit.

A Policy in Practice report, commissioned by the GLA analyses the relationship between COVID-19 increases in benefits and the benefit cap shows that benefit capped households in London are set to double.


Pre COVID-19 figures show that around 80,000 households in Britain were subject to the benefit cap in February 2020. These are likely to go up significantly from April 2020.

Shelter, Citizens Advice and CPAG (among others) have all called for an immediate removal of the cap, which disproportionately affects those on the lowest incomes.

The problem has also been highlighted in a case recently taken on by Leigh Day of a mother of four for whom the benefit cap has effectively cancelled out any COVID-19 related benefits increases.


Animation featured in the government's new Test & Trace campaign

SelfSmoothing the rough edges

The effect of the benefit cap is just one of many 'rough edges' of the government's emergency response to COVID-19.


The Social Security Advisory Committee has asked the DWP to address several issues as part of its ongoing scrutiny of the government's response.

Other areas of concern are for people on legacy benefits who are not receiving the same COVID-19 related rise in benefits as those on UC or Working Tax Credits; those who may be missing out on the Self Employment Income Support Scheme and the effect of surplus earnings rules for self employed people on UC.


And when some furloughed employees can 'earn' up to £2500 a month through government schemes, while others lose their job or are already unemployed and receiving Universal Credit, the 'stark disparity' in protection offered to different groups during the COVID-19 pandemic threatens a further growth in inequalities, according to a report by the IPPR.

The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, is one of many anti-poverty campaigners to have called for the removal of the benefit cap

TaTax credits regulations amended

Tax credits regulations have been changed to provide further protection to workers during lockdown.


The amended regulations follow an announcment by HMRC confirming that people who are not working their usual hours during the COVID-19 pandemic will retain their entitlement to tax credits.

From 23 May, there are various changes to working tax credit entitlement, including:

  • allowing WTC entitlement for up to 8 weeks after CRJS ends so claimants can establish hours normally worked.

  • allow claimants impacted by COVID-19 but not participating in the CJRS or SEISS to continue to satisfy the ‘hours normally worked’, 'working for’ or ‘in expectation of payment’ conditions of WTC;

  • preventing furloughed workers from combining furloughed hours with hours worked in extra jobs if they did not meet WTC 30 hour element conditions before COVID-19

  • Temporarily increasing the time limit for critical workers to report changes of circumstances to HMRC to three months.


Links to recent government guidance & bulletins

Housing Benefit Subsidy Circular S7/2020

Guidance on additional new burden funding to meet the costs of implementing LHA changes

In 2020/21

Treasury Direction on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Treasury Direction extending the Scheme to October 2020.

The Troubles Disablement Payment Scheme DMG Memo 11/20 and ADM 07/20

New guidance for those affected by the Troubles (political violence originating in Northern Ireland) between Jan 1966 and April 2010.

Touchbase: Coronavirus Special 15 May 2020

Round up of recent DWP announcements includes benefits information via Whatsapp, links to COVID-19 scheme updates and safeguarding support.

New style ESA: detailed guide

Updated guidance says UC claimants but claim ESA separately online or by phone rather than through their UC online account.

Universal Credit: childcare costs

Updated guidance on childcare costs during the COVID-19 outbreak.

DMG Memo 10/20

Guidance on electronic pension credit claims during COVID-19 outbreak.

Guide for landlords

Updated guidance on Universal Credit and rented housing.


DMG Memo 9/20

New guidance relaxes earnings condition for furloughed workers claiming maternity allowance due from 25th April 2020.

Treasury Direction on SEISS

Including conditions for SEISS entitlement


Quick links to selected recent benefits-related case law


Entitlement to Sure Start Maternity Grant where claimant has another child under 16


Published 20th March 2020



Lacuna after revised DLA/PIP supersession transfer once claimant reached 65


Published 19th May 2020


Suspension of DLA after 28 days in hospital for adult with severe learning difficulties


Published 15th May 2020


Importance of submitting DLA evidence in PIP transfer claim


Published: 6th May 2020



Does letter inviting claimant to medical examination legally require them to attend?’?


Published: 12th March 2020


No recourse to public funds rule where inhuman suffering or degrading treatment is imminent is unlawful

[2020] EWHC 1299 (Admin)

Published: 21st May 2020


Failure to offer transitional protection after incorrect UC transfer claim is unlawful

[2020] EWCA Civ 618

Published: 12th May 2020


Is mandatory reconsideration required before appeal?


Published 17th April 2020


The difference between an incomplete UC form and a defective claim

[2020] UKUT 108 (AAC)

Published: 15th April 2020



Interaction of decisions to terminate and supersede Housing Benefit


Published: 6th May 2020



Returning British Citizen not required to be ‘qualified’ for family’s right to reside


Published 23rd April 2020

Pre-appeal PIP awards under pressure

The DWP has responded to a Freedom of Information request about pressure put on claimants to accept lower PIP awards over the phone before appeal hearings take place.

The government has denied that pressure is being put on claimants but admits that it does 'not want the process to be unduly delayed'

It does however acknowledge that phone calls should be made to a representative if there is one, rather than to the claimant themselves.


Bitesize links to other benefits-related news:

Don't leave disabled people behind

Disability campaigners call for legacy benefits claimed by many people with disabilties to be raised in line with Universal Credit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Foodbanks report busiest month ever

Trussell Trust reports foodbank use up by 89% in April 2020 compared with April 2020.

Is the DWP ready for the new labour market?

Submissions wanted for a Work & Pensions Commitee inquiry into the DWP's preparations for the changing world of work.

Unlawful not to provide transitional protection

A potentially significant Court of Appeal decision has found the government's failure to offer transitional protection after incorrect UC migrations is unlawful. See also RECENT CASE LAW.

SelfStatutory sick pay for self isolators

Statutory sick pay has been extended to allow claims not only from those with COVID-19 and those who are shielding (most at risk from COVID-19 due to other health conditions), but also those who have been told to self isolate as a result of contact with someone who is infected with COVID-19.


From 28 May 2020, new legislation comes into effect so that anyone who is self-isolating for 14 days from the period of last contact with the infected person will be deemed incapable of work.


It remains to be seen how many more people will soon be in self-isolation following the launch of the government’s new Test & Trace programme, which was announced on the same day. The TUC has already called for a further extension of SSP for everyone, increased to the level of the real Living Wage.


The Prime Minister has promised to investigate how many people, including families with children born in the UK, have been unable to access benefits such as Universal Credit during the COVID-19 outbreak.


During a Liaison Committee meeting of all the select committee chairs, Boris Johnson showed ‘clear surprise’ that some people could not claim UC or other benefits, despite the Work & Pensions Committee Chair Stephen Timms claim that Ministers have been promising to act ‘for two months’.

The question followed, but did not mention, a recent non-COVID19 related High Court ruling that the government’s ‘no recourse to public funds’ regime is unlawful in cases where the applicant will imminently suffer inhuman or degrading treatment without recourse.

Scotland, Northern Ireland & Wales

Brief links to articles 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.



Crisis grant expenditure up 145% from April 2019-April 2020

Less than 25% choose more frequent Scottish choice UC payments

Enhanced SSP for social care workers with COVID-19

130,000 DHPs (average £500) awarded by Scottish LAs in 2019-20

Additional £5m announced for DHPs


4000 funeral support payments since launch in Sept 2019

Coronvirus (Scotland) No. 2 Act 2020 includes one-off increase in Carer’s Allowance Supplement

Social Security Administration & Tribunal Membership (Scotland) Bill introduced to Scottish Parliament


The Troubles Disablement Payment Scheme DMG Memo 11/20 and ADM 07/20

19 May

Announcement of changes to UC in response to COVID-19 outbreak

Rise in child poverty rate shows 25% of children affected in 2018/19

DfC suspends recovery of benefit overpayments and loans for 3 months

Tenfold increase in number of UC claims since COVID19 outbreak.