Reviews and reassessments for disability benefits will be suspended for the next three months, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced.
A DWP spokesman said there will be no new reviews or reassessments across all benefits for three months.
This includes Universal Credit (UC), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.
Face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits have also been suspended for the next three months, including for any new claims.
Any assesments that have already taken place for PIP claimants will continue to be processed. If an assessment has been scheduled, claimants will be contacted by the assessment provider to discuss how this will be taken forward.
Ken Butler Disability Rights UK’s welfare rights and policy officer welcomed the announcement but is calling for more clarification for those who have been sent renewal forms.
‘That disability benefit reviews and reassessments suspended for the next three months is a very welcome announcement. Especially as it has been made clear that all awards and reassessments for disability benefits are also being automatically extended.
‘Some issues are still unclear. For example, are people who have already been sent renewal claim forms still be expected to return them?
‘However, hopefully, this will become clear in the next few days.’
A spokesman for DWP said the suspension will be kept under regular review and extended if necessary.
People experience a change in their needs are encouraged to contact the department to ensure they are receiving the correct level of support.
The spokesman said, where awards are due to expire, DWP will be extending end-dates so that claimants continue to receive financial support at their current rate during this period.
Work and Pensions secretary of state, Thérèse Coffey, said: ‘As this country ramps up its efforts to support people through coronavirus, we will do whatever it takes to protect claimants and our staff.
‘We are automatically extending all awards and reassessments for health and disability benefits to provide that reassurance to those in receipt of them.’
This comes after DWP bosses announced people receiving benefits will not have to attend jobcentre appointments for at least three months. People will continue to receive their benefits as normal, but all requirements to attend the jobcentre appointments in person are suspended.
A spokesman for the department said people can still make applications for benefits online if they are eligible. Jobcentres remain open, and will continue to support people who are not able to use phones and online, including homeless people.
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