Universal Credit update as DWP to start face-to-face assessments – will you be affected?

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Universal Credit payments are intended to support millions of people who are either out of work, unable to work, or who are on a low income. The payment is overseen by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to ensure Britons are amply supported with their finances. However, an important issue for many Universal Credit claimants to understand is an assessment.

Assessments are sometimes required to assess a claimant’s needs, as well as for individuals with certain health conditions.

For Universal Credit, an assessment is usually needed if a person is claiming the additional health amount of the benefit.

Britons can now expect to be called into face-to-face meetings at their local Jobcentre following the DWP’s latest update.

In March 2020, the DWP suspended face-to-face assessments due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, the Government used more remote assessments such as via video call or telephone to assess claimants.

At first, the change will only be for individuals who the DWP were unable to fully assess via other channels.

The first face-to-face assessments commenced on April 12, particularly for those in England and Wales.

However, Scotland will follow closely behind with face-to-face appointments kicking off in just days time on Monday, April 26.

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In person assessments for Universal Credit – the health amount in particular – as well as PIP will occur from May onwards.

Face-to-face assessments will take place alongside existing paper-based assessments and telephone assessments.

The type of assessment a person will have to undergo will be based on suitability at that specific time. 

People can expect to be invited to a face-to-face assessment via letter from the DWP.

This letter will clearly outline what a person can expect from their appointment.

It is important to only show up to a Jobcentre for an assessment if a person has an appointment. 

The DWP has confirmed its face-to-face assessments will be COVID-19 secure.

It has worked with assessment providers to make sure safety measures such as social distancing and personal protective equipment are in place. 

It has said its approach to assessments will be kept under review to ensure the latest public health requirements are being adhered to. 

People can apply for Universal Credit online, but if they are unable to do so the DWP will phone them to help verify their identity.

When claiming Universal Credit people will be asked if they have a health condition or disability which impacts their ability to work. 

This may entitle them to the additional amount of Universal Credit for health conditions.

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