This webpage provides information about coronavirus and claiming benefits

Employment and benefits support

Making a new claim

If you have lost your job or are working reduced hours you may be able to claim:

  • Universal Credit
  • New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (New Style JSA)
  • New Style Employment and Support Allowance (New Style ESA)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

See below for more information about each of these benefits.

New Style JSA and New Style ESA can be claimed on their own or at the same time as Universal Credit, so it may be a good idea to apply for Universal Credit anyway, particularly if you pay rent or have children to support.

Use a benefits calculator to find out what benefits you might be entitled to.

Universal Credit

You may be eligible for Universal Credit if:

  • you’re on a low income or out of work
  • you’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
  • you’re under State Pension age (or your partner is)
  • you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you, and
  • you live in the UK

Read more about eligibility for Universal Credit. If you’re eligible you can apply for Universal Credit online.

For more information about any aspect of Universal Credit, including how to make a claim, visit Understanding Universal Credit

If you currently receive tax credits

If you currently receive tax credits from HMRC please be aware that if you submit a claim for Universal Credit your tax credit award will end immediately. If your tax credit award ends it cannot be re-opened, and it will not be possible to make a new tax credits claim in the future.

If you are an existing tax credit claimant, this does not mean you will be automatically eligible to receive Universal Credit. If you submit a Universal Credit claim your tax credit award will be closed immediately, even if you are not eligible to claim Universal Credit.

There are some differences between the eligibility criteria for Universal Credit and tax credits, including (but not limited to) your savings and residency status.

If you currently receive tax credits, please check the eligibility criteria for Universal Credit before you submit a Universal Credit claim. If your tax credit award has not ended, you will need to decide whether remaining on tax credits or claiming Universal Credit is better for you, based on your own personal circumstances. You can use a benefits calculator to check your possible entitlement.

New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (New Style JSA)

You may be eligible for New Style JSA if:

  • you’re unemployed or working less than 16 hours a week
  • you have been working as an employee, usually within the last 2 to 3 years, and have paid or been credited with enough National Insurance contributions
  • you do not have an illness or disability that limits your ability to work
  • you’re under State Pension age
  • you’re not in full time education, and
  • you live in the UK

Read more about eligibility for New Style JSA. If you’re eligible you can apply for New Style JSA online.

Your savings and capital (or your partner’s savings, capital and income) are not taken into account when claiming New Style JSA. However, your earnings and any payment you are getting from a pension can affect the amount you may receive.

New Style Employment and Support Allowance (New Style ESA)

You may be eligible for New Style ESA if:

  • you are ill or have a health condition or disability that limits your ability to work
  • you are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), or your entitlement to SSP is coming to an end
  • you have been working (either as an employee or self-employed) within the last 2 to 3 years and have paid, or been credited with, enough National Insurance contributions
  • you are 16 or over, and
  • you are under State Pension age

You may also be able to apply for New Style ESA if you’re not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay and one of the following applies:

  • you or your child has symptoms of coronavirus
  • you or your child are self-isolating because you came into contact with someone who might have coronavirus
  • you have been told to stay at home for at least 12 weeks by the NHS because you’re at high risk of severe illness

Read more about eligibility for New Style ESA

Your (or your partner’s) savings will not affect how much New Style ESA you’re paid. If your partner works, it does not affect your claim. Most income is not taken into account, but a personal pension can affect the amount you may receive.

You can apply for New Style ESA online. If you can’t make an application online, you can apply by calling the Universal Credit helpline

If you get or are eligible for the severe disability premium

You may be eligible for contributory and/or income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you:

  • get the severe disability premium, or are entitled to it, or
  • got or were entitled to the severe disability premium in the last month, and you’re still eligible for it

Read more about eligibility for contributory or income-related ESA

Changes because of coronavirus

Contacting DWP

To help us get through the unprecedented number of Universal Credit claims, we’ve changed how we process them. This means there is no need to call us. If we need to check any information provided as part of your claim with you – we will call you. Don’t worry, we are working hard to progress all of the claims. There is no need to contact us to check progress.

You should apply for Universal Credit online. You do not need to call DWP to arrange an appointment and you shouldn’t attend the jobcentre. We will know that you have applied and will contact you if we need any more information from you to process any payment you are due. We will put a note into your online account and follow up with a phone call – this may appear as a private number. Please check your online account and look out for calls from us.

We are working hard to ensure the online application reflects these changes – in the meantime please do not call us. If you’ve recently applied for Universal Credit, your claim starts the day you submit your application online. This date is not reliant on your identity being verified online or linked to the date of any further contact.

DWP will never text or email asking for personal information or bank details.

If you cannot use digital services at all, Universal Credit applications can still be made over the phone.

If you’re a new customer and are having a problem verifying your identity online do not worry – your claim has been submitted. Your jobcentre will know you have applied online, they will call you if they need to confirm any information with you in order to progress your claim.

Our phone systems mean calls from us may display as 0800 numbers, or an unknown number. If you get a call from an unknown number following our message in your account please pick up, as it’s likely to be DWP. We will of course ensure that you know the call is genuine.

Please note, there are scams preying on people, so do not share information if you’re not sure the call is from DWP. If you are in any doubt, please ask the caller to post a specific form of words into your journal so you can be sure it’s us.

Making a claim

If you need to claim Universal Credit, New Style ESA or ESA because of coronavirus, you will not be required to produce medical evidence to start your claim. Depending on your circumstances you may need to provide medical evidence at a later date, and we will let you know if we need this. You should begin your online claim as soon as possible.

If you are affected by coronavirus you will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance upfront without physically attending a jobcentre.

If you are suffering from coronavirus – or have been advised to stay at home in line with government guidelines – and want to apply for ESA, the usual 7 waiting days for new claimants will not apply. ESA will be payable from day one.