Universal Credit, PIP and ESA face-to-face assessments scrapped for three months over coronavirus – The Sun

SICKNESS and disability payments face-to-face assessments have been scrapped for three months over fears of spreading the deadly coronavirus among vulnerable Brits.

The move will come into effect on Tuesday as ministers ramp up efforts to protect those most at risk from COVID-19.

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Britain’s coronavirus death toll leapt from 21 to 35 – including Nick Matthews, 59, the youngest UK victim. The number of confirmed cases has also risen to more than 1,390.

As the government fights to stop nation-wide contagion and keep those with existing health conditions safe, universal credit, PIP and ESA assessments will be made without face-to-face contact from tomorrow onwards.

Households will be able to manage their benefits over the phone or via their work journal instead, without the risk of being sanctioned for missing a visit.

The plan will impact the Personal Independence Payment, Employment and Support Allowance, Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit and some Universal Credit payments.

It comes as:

  • Millions of workers stayed at home today in ghost town Britain
  • Brits were warned they could face fines or even jail if they ignore quarantine rules under new emergency laws coming to Parliament this week
  • Ministers warned they could be forced to ration supermarket products if panic buying continues
  • Shoppers continued to raid supermarkets for food and supplies – even as officials begged them not to
  • Boris Johnson will chair another emergency COBRA today
  • More measures are thought to be revealed – including a ban on mass gatherings
  • The youngest UK patient who has died of coronavirus was revealed to be a 59-year-old man yesterday
  • Leaked documents say up to 8million could be hospitalised, and the outbreak may last up to a year

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Under the new measures, all face-to-face benefits assessments will be cancelled and anyone with appointments will be contacted.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said the change had been made to keep those with existing health problems safe from the virus.

She said: “As we move into the next phase of our response to coronavirus, it is right we take steps to protect those with health problems.

“Temporarily suspending face-to-face assessments for sickness and disability benefits will allow us to ensure we continue to provide a safety net for those in need, while removing unnecessary risk of exposure to this disease.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday confirmed the elderly will be told to stay indoors for four months.

Ministers have also warned they could be forced to ration products such as toilet roll and beans, if panic buying continues.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in the budget last week measures to allow millions of self-employed workers to claim sick pay through Universal Credit if forced to isolate or stay at home because of the deadly COVID-19

Businesses with fewer than 250 employees will also be able to claim back the cost of providing statutory sick pay due to staff being affected by coronavirus from the government.

Employees will also no longer have to provide a sick note if they're off work due to coronavirus.

While many staff will be entitled to sick pay during this time, 1.5million self-employed workers will suffer loss of income.

If you're on Universal Credit and you're worried about what self-isolating will do to your finances, we've put together a guide to what extra help is available to you.

A woman wearing a protective face mask walks past Buckingham Palace, London, as Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said ministers are yet to make a decision on whether to ban gatherings

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