JCP Communication - Access to Jobcentre Services
Access to Jobcentre Services - Keeping our Customers Safe
At this unprecedented time, to support the critical efforts to reduce unnecessary travel, increase social distancing, additional steps are now in place to protect our customers and protect our colleagues.
With a rise in new claims, and with demand for support over the phone increasing, the Department for Work and Pensions is taking unprecedented action to make sure people can get the support they need.
In line with recent Government guidance and to best serve those who need support, the Work and Pensions Secretary has taken the decision to limit access to Jobcentres.
From Tuesday 24th March members of the public will not be admitted into Jobcentres unless they are directed to do so with a booked emergency appointment. Only the most vulnerable claimants who are unable to contact us, access DWP Services online or by telephone or who need to complete transactions which cannot be completed through any other channel in order to receive timely payment will be invited to attend, with the public urged to use online services
People receiving benefits do not have to attend jobcentre appointments for at least three months, starting from Thursday 19 March 2020.
People will continue to receive their benefits as normal, but all requirements to attend the jobcentre in person are suspended.
Customers can continue to access support online www.dwp.gov.uk where telephone services are also listed.
For those who are already registered, we would ask that they try to log onto their account out of peak times, so we can ensure we can get new claims onto the system as quickly as possible. Between 11:00am and 2:00pm is the busiest time for making claims. You can apply for Universal Credit online 24/7.
DWP national telephone lines are now open 9.30am to 3.30pm.
As you will understand we are experiencing a significant increase in the number of calls from people who need to make a new claim for financial support with Universal Credit claims having increased nationally by 500%. With such a huge increase in claims there are pressures on our services, but the system is standing up well to these and our dedicated staff are working flat out to get people the support they need. However, customers may experience some extended waiting times. We appreciate how frustrating this is and we are working to improve the situation but in the meantime we ask that customers display patience and we will endeavour to answer all calls as quickly as possible.
Inside Jobcentres, strict social distancing measures will be in place. Signs and posters will be placed in windows asking everyone to claim online and / or over the phone. A number will be provided on the notice for those who want to speak to a colleague in the Jobcentre.
By taking this action, we protect customers and communities as we comply with government advice on social distancing; and maximise the processing capacity of Jobcentres to support new claims made online or via the phone.
Universal Credit claims have increased by 500%. As such, the payment of benefits is our main priority and our staff are working working extremely hard to process claims at pace and supporting millions of people across the country. As we need to focus on the processing of claims, we will not be checking if people are looking for and available for work for the next three months – because of that there will be no sanctions during that time.
While we have unprecedented numbers of claims but we are mobilising our staff and are clearing huge volumes of claims each day and making payments, including advances, at the soonest possible date.
We do, however, want claimants to continue to look for work where they are able. Even in these difficult times, new jobs are being created. Retailers, for instance, have announced tens of thousands of new jobs across the country in response to the coronavirus outbreak and I would urge claimants to explore these opportunities and others, where they are able to do so.
Our twitter feed @JCPinNTW continues to post those key worker jobs across our region and we encourage people to follow that feed.