Coronavirus: information and updates

Benefits and coronavirus

From 1 July, if you do not follow your claimant commitment, your benefits may be cut. These are called ‘sanctions’.

If you were repaying benefit overpayments, these are starting again.

The Government has not said how this will affect face-to-face assessments, re-assessments or appeals.

Talk to your work coach if you cannot meet your claimant commitment because you or someone you live with is vulnerable to coronavirus.

Coronavirus and claiming benefits (GOV.UK)

Warning Telephone assessments

You may get a letter saying that you will be assessed by phone.

If a phone assessment would not be accessible for you, contact the organisation that sent you the letter. This will be Capita or Independent Assessment Services.

Preparing for your PIP assessment

Please help us with our survey

Scope wants to understand the experiences of disabled people who have had a telephone benefit assessment during the coronavirus pandemic.

If you would like to share your experiences with us, please take part in our survey. Survey responses are anonymous.

Survey on remote benefits assessments during coronavirus

Benefits repayments starting again

If you were repaying money from your benefits before coronavirus, this will start again. You will receive a letter or a journal entry if you get Universal Credit.

The Department for Work and Pensions paused the recovery of overpayments for 3 months for:

  • Universal Credit
  • legacy benefits
  • Social Fund loans
  • Tax Credit debts

Coronavirus – if your repayments for a benefit overpayment were temporarily stopped (Citizens Advice)

If you're employed

If you are self-isolating because of Government advice, ask your employer what options are available to you. Check their policy on:

If you're going to be off sick for longer than 3 weeks, your employer may also be able to furlough you.

Employee rights and coronavirus

If you're self-employed

The Government Self-Employment Income Support Scheme lets you claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits. You can only get up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

If you're eligible:

  1. HMRC will contact you by the middle of May 2020.
  2. You claim online.
  3. HMRC will make payments by early June 2020.

The grant will be available for the next 3 months but it may be extended.

Self-employment support during coronavirus

Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

You can receive, 'new style' Contribution-based ESA from the first day of self-isolation due to coronavirus. 

If you cannot apply online, you can call the Universal Credit helpline even if you're not claiming Universal Credit.

Check if you're eligible for ESA (GOV.UK)

New Style Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)

If you have lost your job, you might be able to claim New Style JSA. This does not involve an assessment. You can get this even if your partner is still working.

Claim New Style JSA (GOV.UK)

You could claim this and Universal Credit.

Universal Credit

You can now claim Universal Credit online or over the phone due to Government lockdown or self-isolation. 

If you are self-employed or have a zero hours contract, you will be able to get the same amount of Universal Credit as an employed person. This is a temporary measure.

Apply for Universal Credit (GOV.UK)

Emergency Universal Credit loans are available to people affected by coronavirus. This means you can ask for your first payment straight away. This is a loan. You will pay this back from your Universal Credit payments. If you stop claiming UC, you will still have to pay this back.

If you already claim Universal Credit and are working

Let your Job Coach know if the work ends and whether this is permanent or temporary. If you get Statutory Sick Pay, this will be deducted from your Universal Credit in the same way that wages would be.

Warning If you receive Working Tax Credit

If you apply for Universal Credit you will stop receiving Working Tax Credit.

You will not be able to re-claim Working Tax Credit. Most people who move from Working Tax Credit to Universal Credit have a fall in income.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Check if you are eligible to claim PIP. This is a disability benefit that can help you with some of the extra costs if you have a long-term health condition or impairment. 

The amount you get depends on how your condition affects you, not the condition itself.


If you are struggling to pay your bills

Contact your utility companies to see if there is any help that they can give you. 

For rent or mortgage payments, the government has introduced support to make sure people are protected if they are struggling financially due to coronavirus.

Government support available for landlords and renters during coronavirus (GOV.UK)

Mortgages and coronavirus (Financial Conduct Authority)

Support with Council Tax during coronavirus

Emergency funding

Your local authority may have emergency funding schemes for people in extreme hardship.

See if your local authority has a scheme (Shelter)

In Wales, you can apply for a grant called Emergency Assistance Payment (EAP). It helps cover the cost of food, gas and electricity, clothing and emergency travel. You do not need to pay this back.

You may be eligible if:

  • you’re in extreme hardship for reasons like benefit delays
  • you need help with essential costs after an emergency
  • you’ve experienced a disaster like flooding or a fire in your home

See if you’re eligible and apply (

Financial support when someone dies

Last reviewed by Scope on: 01/07/2020

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