Almost half a million new benefits claims have been obtained by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in the previous 9 days alone, MPs have been informed.
An unprecedented 477,000 functions have been “processed” since final Tuesday, with 105,000 of those made yesterday alone by individuals dealing with uncertainty because of coronavirus.
Therese Coffey, the welfare secretary, stated the benefits system was dealing with surging demand from these dealing with monetary hardship, together with the self-employed who’re ready to listen to what further assist is obtainable from the chancellor.
She informed the Commons Welfare Committee: “The common credit score system is able to take that, assist them by the protection internet of the welfare state.
“In the previous 9 days we’ve got processed round half a million claims.”
Those claiming common credit score should have their circumstances, together with their lease and what number of youngsters they’ve, verified by a DWP adviser after which face a five-week wait for his or her first cost.
Ms Coffey claimed it was nonetheless attainable for individuals struggling to get assist “pretty darn quick” by making use of for an advance cost.
But on social media, individuals have reported struggling to get by on the web site or helpline for a number of days.
DWP everlasting secretary Peter Schofield informed MPs that 70,000 of the 272,000 claimants who utilized final week had requested an advance cost, however he couldn’t say what number of had but obtained the cash.
Mr Schofield stated there had been “capacity challenges” in verifying the extra claims, which is being accomplished by a web based verification web site.
But he stated there had been a “massive redeployment of staff” away from different duties to clear the backlog, and to attempt to “ensure people are paid in full and on time”.
Ms Coffey was requested about repeated calls from MPs, meals banks and charities to scrap the five-week look ahead to the primary benefits cost, saying it was not “technically feasible”.
The welfare secretary additionally rejected solutions the advance funds issued to individuals whereas they wait 5 weeks be made into a grant – to take account of the hardship attributable to the virus.
She cited technical challenges and stated the federal government needed to contemplate “aspects of fairness to the wider taxpayer”.
Campaigners have raised the problem of overseas nationals working in the UK legally who will not be eligible for common credit score and the way they could possibly be helped – in order to forestall them persevering with to work if they’ve signs.
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MPs had been informed by the welfare secretary that the federal government’s £500m hardship fund could possibly be used for this objective, and that discussions had been underway with the Home Office about this coverage.
SNP MP Chris Stephens stated unions had raised considerations about whether or not DWP workers had been following acceptable steering on hand-washing and social distancing.
In response, Mr Schofield stated that this was an “absolute priority” and that “we are doing everything we can, and certainly implementing the government guidelines”.
Universal credit score – which rolls six benefits into one – has been beset by delays and is now solely because of be absolutely rolled out nationwide by 2024.
Ms Coffey stated re-assessments for individuals claiming the incapacity profit PIP had been placed on maintain, to unencumber medical workers, and that present claimants can be allowed to carrying on receiving it.