Holding answer received on 23 March 2020
As part of the Government’s strategy to support people affected by the COVID-19 public health emergency, DWP is making a number of changes to its benefit processes to ensure people who need financial help have appropriate access to the welfare system. This includes claimants being able to claim Universal Credit and access its new claim advance payments where they are directly affected by COVID-19 (or self-isolating), without the requirement to attend a Jobcentre. Any evidence to support claims can be provided remotely, normally online or by telephone.
To avoid increasing the burden on health care professionals and the risk of further infection, everyone that claims Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or UC, and who is infected with COVID-19 or who is required to self-isolate, will be treated as having Limited Capability for Work in ESA and UC without supplying medical evidence or undergoing a Work Capability Assessment.
In addition, to better support the needs of people (particularly the self-employed and those not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay) and/or not entitled to UC, we are removing the seven waiting days that currently apply to ESA. This means that everyone who makes a new claim for ESA is entitled to the benefit, and is infected with COVID-19 or required to self-isolate, will be paid from day one of their claim.
Government officials continue to work closely together to understand the potential impacts of COVID-19 on employment and benefits. The Department has introduced new guidance about claiming benefits which can be found at: https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/