DWP announces biggest change to benefits in months as lockdown eases

Some benefits claimants will be asked to attend face-to-face appointments for the first time since lockdown.

Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) bosses have issued a key update on the on-hold assessment, The Birmingham Mail reports.

On March 16, all face-to-face assessments for Universal Credit and other benefits were put on hold to avoid the spread of Covid-19.

Assessments were instead done over the phone, or on the basis of written evidence.

The move meant a big change for those claiming Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Universal Credit or Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB).

The suspension of the majority of these assessments will continue.

But the government has confirmed that some reassessment activity will gradually resume from July 2020 for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Assessments for these benefits are designed to help understand individual’s ability to carry out a series of everyday activities. But the government assessment system has come in for plenty of criticism in the past.

A DWP statement read: “This temporary suspension, initially brought in for three months to protect people from unnecessary risk of coronavirus at the outset of the pandemic, will remain in place following a consideration of the latest public health guidance. We will announce any changes to this in due course.

“All services remain open and people are encouraged to make a claim if they believe they need support, or to update the department on a change of their circumstances.

“As measures are taken across the country to ease restrictions, the department will also gradually resume some review and reassessment activity which had been put on hold because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“We will shortly be restarting review and renewal activity in PIP and DLA, starting with those claims which were already underway when this activity was suspended.”

The DWP will write to any claimants who need to complete paperwork to resume their reviews, reassessments and renewals.

People are encouraged not to delay making claims as all benefits remain open and telephone and paper-based assessments are in place where appropriate

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