Face-to-face health assessments suspended due to Coronavirus
Tue, 17 Mar 2020
The decision means claimants on disability benefits will no longer be required to attend the face-to-face assessments.
The change also covers health checks for Universal Credit.
Government has said the temporary move, effective from March 17 for the next three weeks, is being taken as a precautionary measure to protect vulnerable people from unnecessary risk of exposure to coronavirus as the country’s response ramps up in the ‘delay’ phase.
The DWP said it would ensure those who are entitled to a benefit continue to receive support, and that new claimants are able to access the safety net.
It affects claimants of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), those on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and some on Universal Credit, and recipients of Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.
The suspension of face-to-face assessments also covers new claims to those benefits.
Thérèse Coffey, work and pensions secretary, said: “As we move into the next phase of our response to coronavirus, it is right we take steps to protect those with health problems.”
Adding: “Temporarily suspending face-to-face assessments for sickness and disability benefits will allow us to ensure we continue to provide a safety net for those in need, while removing unnecessary risk of exposure to this disease.”
Anyone who has a face-to-face assessment appointment scheduled from Tuesday 17 March onwards does not need to attend and will be contacted to discuss next steps and alternative arrangements, which could involve either telephone or paper-based assessments.
The department did say it expects the measure to be in effect for the next 3 months but it will regularly review the position in line with Public Health advice.