In the news


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


Quick links to other benefits-related news

DWP improves services for deaf people

The DWP has entered into a legal agreement with ECHR to improve their telephony services for hearing-impaired users.

EEA nationals in the UK pay £20bn extra

EEA nationals in the UK paid £20 billion more in tax than they were entitled to in benefits in 2017-18.

New DWP safeguarding leads

The government plans to employ 25 new Senior Safeguarding Leaders by Autumn 2020.

Unprecedented rise in capped households

There has been a 665% rise in number of benefit-capped households between April 2013 - May 2020.

PIP review pauses extended

The pause in PIP review exercises has been extended to the end of September 2020.

Screenshot 2020-09-04 at 16.44.27.png

Dr Stephen Brien

Government choice of SSAC Chair to be questioned

The Work & Pensions Committee has called the government's preferred candidate for Chair of the Social Security Advisory Committee in to question.

Dr Stephen Brien is the current Director of Policy at the Legatum Institute. He was an advisor to the DWP from 2010-2013 and is the author of Outcome- based Goverment and Dynamic Benefits, the blueprint for Universal Credit. Since 2019, the interim chair of the SSAC has been Liz Sayce, CEO of Disability Rights UK.

Dr Brien's evidence to the inquiry into the appointment of the Chair of the SSAC can be viewed from 9.30am on Wednesday 9th September.

RRapid review of post-lockdown social security changes

The Social Security Advisory Committee is conducting a rapid review of post lockdown changes to the social security system.

The review will take place in two phase and contributions are welcomed from people working in and using the system at all stages.


Links to recent government guidance & bulletins

LA Welfare Direct lite 8/20

Guidance for LAs on a new process for dealing with legacy claims which include a Severe Disability Premium in Housing Benefit


ADM 19/20 and DMG 17/20

Access to income-related benefits for family members of people in Northern Ireland.

ADM 17/20 and DMG 16/20

Updated guidance on disability and carers’ benefits for UK citizens living in the EEA


ADM 18/20

Guidance on reciprocal agreement between GB and NI on Universal Credit

ADM 16/20

Exception to ‘not receiving education’ for some UC claimants who also have limited capability for work

LA Welfare Direct 8/20

Guidance on shared accommodation rate of LHA for under 35s so that Everyone In accommodation including hotels and b&bs meets the definition of ‘hostel’.

HB Circular A9/2020

Includes relaunch of Housing Benefit Award Accuracy Initiative in Oct 2020


Social distancing measures at the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

New UC law affects students with disabilities

New regulations have come into effect that will limit disabled students' access to Universal Credit, and therefore to education.

The Universal Credit (Exceptions to the Requirement not to be receiving Education) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 have been issued to “restore the policy intent” that a disabled student must have received a limited capability for work determination on or before their date of claim for Universal Credit.


The regulations, which came into effect in August 2020, address the exception to the Universal Credit basic condition 'not to be receiving education' for those in receipt of a disability benefit.

They amend the exception by specifying that a person entitled to AA, DLA or PIP will only be entitled to Universal Credit if they already have a determination of limited capability for work (LCW).


Disability Rights UK Welfare Rights & Policy Advisor Ken Butler comments that the changes lead to an unwinnable Catch 22 situation where the DWP...

'reject a Universal Credit claim made by a full time disabled student (not previously in receipt of ESA) on the grounds that they have not been determined to have a LCW', and then refuse to arrange a work capability assessment to determine if they have a LCW, even when they would often have 'met the Universal Credit means test if found to have a LCW.'

The only current solution is for the student (or potential student) to apply for New Style ESA so that a work capability assessment can evenutally be carried out before the student applies for UC.


Quick links to selected recent benefits-related case law



Do rent arrears to a family member mean the tenancy is non-commercial?


Published: 24th August 2020


Prisoner challenges temporary house absence rules before and during COVID-19

[2020] NIQB 46 and [2020] NIQB 52

Decision dates: 1st May 2020 / 22 June 2020



DWP must provide evidence of work-related activity in claimant’s UC area


Published 24th August 2020



Appeal not possible without a previous DWP decision


Published 10th August 2020



Effective dates for supersessions following DWP review


Published 10th August 2020



Denial of bereavement support for widowed partner of disabled person who was unable to pay contributions breaches ECHR law

[2020] NICA 36

Decision date: 10th August 2020



Is non-EEA national with permanent residence from former marriage to EEA national a family relation with right to residence?


Published 10th August 2020



Soft skills do not necessarily demonstrate capability for work-related activity


Published 5th August 2020


Suspension of WPA when widowed parent begins cohabiting is not unlawful

[2020] NICA 15

Decision date: 26th February 2020

FiAdditional payments for self-isolation

The government has started to trial payments for people on low incomes in areas of high-incidence of COVID-19 who are self isolating and unable to work from home.

A trial has begun in the North West of England (Blackburn, Darwen, Pendle and Oldham) to pay £130 for 10 days isolation for anyone self isolating due to COVID-19 infection and £182 for household members of an infected person who need to self isolate for 14 days.


The payment will be available to those currently claiming Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit (and those who claim Income Support, ibJSA, irESA, Pension Credit & Housing Benefit if they are also working), within 48 hours of them providing evidence of a positive test result plus a current bank statement.


The recent change in government COVID policy came after a report by DELVE (a multi-disciplinary group convened by the Royal Society) showed that there was a financial disincentive to self isolation.


The TUC has since described the 'belated concession' of £13 a day as a 'paltry payment', which only applies to people on UC in areas of local lockdown in England, and still leaves many families without adequate support.

AAccess to Work scheme extended for COVID-19

Disabled people at work or working from home can now claim additional funding through an extension of the Access to Work scheme.

The new funding covers additional expenses for  special equipment, travel costs and mental health. Applications can be made via

Scotland, Northern Ireland & Wales

Brief links to articles, reports 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 first to incorporate UN Convention on Rights of the Child into domestic law

Scottish Carers Allowance Supplement and Young Carers Grant can be exported to EU

Poverty & Inequality Commission question use of Scottish Welfare Fund during COVID-19


SSSC inquiry into role of social security system during COVID-19

Fair Start Scotland start rate increased to 80% during lockdown

Scottish Child Payment to open for applications from Nov 2020, payments from Feb 2021

Scotland to aim for world leading support for disabled people says expert coalition

Job Start Payment for young people starting work now open for applications

80,000 carers given one-off coronavirus supplement





New PIP claims reduced by 50% to May 2020; mandatory reconsideration requests down by 90%

Huge rise in number of UC claims since COVID-19

40% increase in households subject to benefit cap

Guidance on reciprocal agreement between GB and NI on Universal Credit

Work search and work availability requirements for JSA reintroduced (UC requirements still suspended for existing claims)


Welsh government gives £2.8m to support Council Tax Reduction Scheme

Senedd’s Equality, Local Government & Communities Committee calls for increased funding for advice services

Relaxation of Discretionary Assistance Fund rules extended to 31 March 2021