In the news
New £500 self isolation payments
The government has announced a new £500 payment for anyone who is on income-related benefits and who is required to self-isolate but is unable to work from home.
In England, the payment is aimed at those who have been required to self isolate after a positive COVID-19 test or via notification by the Test & Trace Scheme and are currently claiming Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-related ESA, income-based JSA, Income Support, Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit.
Each area or local authorty can also decide on a discretionary payment to support claimants of non-income-related benefits and other lower income earners who are required to self isolate. See also SCOTLAND, N IRELAND & WALES.
Click on this video for Liam Casey's clear explanation
of the MM judgement for Benefits & Work
Self isolation payments for those not on income-related benefits are discretionary
ESA appeals before mandatory reconsideration
ESA claimants will now be able to appeal, and receive ESA pending appeal (subject to the 365-day payment limit for contributory ESA cases), without submitting a mandatory reconsideration.
Claimants will need to have lodged an appeal against a decision that they are fit for work and will also have to provide medical evidence that they are not fit for work. Remember that you cannot usually be paid ESA on a repeat application, when you have previously been found to be fit for work.
There's more in LATEST GUIDANCE below. Further information on this change to the law and all other aspects of ESA can also be found on our next Limited Capability for Work training course and post-course access to our expert advice service.
Quick links to other benefits-related news
The Justice Committee has launched an inquiry on future need for and pressures on legal aid post-coronavirus (closes 19th October).
The DWP has confirmed the appointment of Dr Stephen O'Brien as the Chair of the Social Security Advisory Commitee.
The Secretary of State has confirmed there is not plan to compensate those on tax credits who lost out following DWP advice to move onto Universal Credit.
The Liberal Democrats have voted to campaign for a Universal Basic Income for all long-term UK residents.
Single parents are being 'shoe-horned' into a jobseeking regime which does not reflect their needs, according to a Gingerbread report.
Identifying PIP claimants who require social support
The government has begun a review of PIP claimants who have required social support following the Supreme Court 'MM case'  UKSC 34.
The effects of the case are explained clearly in the video above, made by BTC trainer Liam Casey for the Benefits and Work website.
Advisors should look out for cases involving people who have claimed PIP on the basis of needing social support from someone trained or experienced in assisting people to engage in social situations. The judgement ruled that social support may be given before or during an activity that requires engaging with people face-to-face. Those affected may now be eligible for the daily living component of PIP or an increase in the daily living component to the enhanced rate, potentially up to an additional £13,000.
Changes to Severe Disability Premium payments
The Severe Disability Payment transitional payment will convert to a transitional element within Universal Credit this month.
From 8 October, people with disabilities who have been moved from legacy benefits onto Universal Credit will receive a potentially erodable transitional element within UC, rather than than the existing arrangement.
This will go unnoticed by many but is potentially significant to those people with disabilities who hae been forced onto Universal Credit before or since the SDP gateway was introduced.
RECENT CASE LAW
Quick links to selected recent benefits-related case law
Daily Activity 4: Need for supervision due to removal of hearing aids in the shower
Published: 29th September 2020
Formula for converting weekly rent costs into a monthly value for UC is not irrational or unlawful
Decision date: 23rd September 2020
Court of Appeal rejects challenge to increase in women’s state pension age
Decision date: 15th September 2020
Claiming Tax Credits after death of spouse in a full-service UC area
Published 7th September 2020
Here come the JETS
The government has launched a new Job Entry Targetted Support scheme to help find work for those left unemployed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The JETS scheme is part of the Work & Health Programme and will support UC Claimants in the 'All Work Related Requirements' group as well as New Style JSA claimants who have been unemployed for at least 13 weeks. (See also LATEST GUIDANCE).
Links to recent government guidance & bulletins
The government's COVID-19 guidance and support has been updated to include guidance on the JETS scheme (see Here Come the JETS).
Guidance following High Court ruling in CSPC/330/2019 on Right to Reside for family members of British citizens returning to the UK
Round up of latest DWP announcements includes information Video Relay Service for Pension Credit and Social Fund, Winter Warm Home discounts; Brexit-prepared business webinars and a communications toolkit for the self-isolation campaign.
Guidance on failure to attend ESA medical assessment without legal obligation, following CE/2126/2018
Updated guidance on requirement for an isolation note or letter from doctor or hospital if in an area of local restrictions to prove eligibility for New Style ESA
Updated guidance on the conversion of transitional SDP payments to a transitional element within UC from 8 October 2020. (This may also mean that this element can now be eroded or withdrawn.)
Guidance on DHP support for claimants living in sanctuary schemes.
ADM 22/20 memo on administrative exercise to identify claimants affected by result of MM hearing on social support as well as updated PIP guidance on social support
See updated section 1.12 of DWP guidance for PIP claimants who require additional support with the claims process, including use of ‘additional support markers’.
Guidance on no requirement for mandatory reconsideration pending appeal (see also News story above)
Guidance on additional earnings disregard treatment for HB claimants
Guidance on treatment of Test & Trace in the calculation of income-related benefits
End of lockdown Working Tax Credit payments
From 31st October, furlough payments via the Job Retention Scheme and related Working Tax Credit awards will end for those who haven't returned to work since lockdown.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government treated people who were on Working Tax Credit as though they were still working (even if they were not).
The end of this scheme may mean that many WTC claimants will soon be claiming Universal Credit.
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.
Scottish Government urged to extend Scottish Child Payments using existing payment processes
Uprating of devolved Industrial Death Benefit to be carried out by UK government
Local authorities to proactively contact all those required to self isolate
New process for helping third party representatives with enquiries where claimants are unable to give consent
Bill supporting Scottish Child Payment unanimously passed
Scottish government rejects call for automatic awards of Scottish Child Payment
Scotland records largest ever increase in Council Tax Reduction recipients in first months after lockdown
Bill amendments tabled to allow for non payment and suspension of devolved benefits in prescribed circumstances
Research shows most women in N Ireland do not know about the UC Contingency Fund
Upper Tribunal face to face hearings adjourned until further notice.
Communites Minister announces extension to NI Executive’s Child Poverty Strategy until 2022
Welfare mitigation schemes to continue until extension legislation
Discretionary Support Commissioner looks into variations in income threshold for different types of household
Number of NI children in absolute poverty rose by 5% in 2018/19
£500 Test & Trace scheme for those on low incomes required to self isolate
Senedd votes to trial Universal Basic Income system in Wales (item 6)