The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has promised people will continue to receive their benefits as normal during the coronavirus crisis.
And a pledge has been made that steps are being taken to cope with an unprecedented volume of new claims on DWP services.
The assurance comes after fears were raised that benefits won’t be paid and that Jobcentre staff are struggling to keep up with demand for guidance and advice.
A DWP spokeswoman said: “In these unprecedented times, it’s right that we prioritise front line services and our message is clear: we will stand by you and get through this.
“And that means continuing to pay benefits and pensions, and supporting those whose lives have been disrupted.”
She added: “More staff are being deployed to process new claims and make payments, with remote support a top priority for the department.”
Around 10,000 existing staff will be moved to process new claims, with 1,000 already in place, and it is expected that another 1,500 people are to be recruited to “aid the effort”.
The DWP has also stressed that people receiving benefits do not have to attend Jobcentre appointments for at least three months.
The spokeswoman said: “People will continue to receive their benefits as normal, but all requirements to attend the Jobcentre in person are suspended.
“We are urging people to use online services first, helping keep phone lines free for those who really need them. Meanwhile messages are being reviewed on a daily basis and amended where required to give most accurate and up-to-date advice to customers.”
The DWP has also assured its workers that their health is “paramount”.
“We have stepped up cleaning in all sites. Hand sanitisers may be purchased locally, however, the demand on these products has led to limited availability. Hot water and soap are available on all floors in the office.”
Members of the public will not be admitted into Jobcentres unless they have a booked appointment. Only the most vulnerable claimants who cannot access DWP services by other channels will be able to attend.
The spokeswoman added: “We are working to get additional staff from across DWP and the civil service to support us in being able to deal with the unprecedented claim volumes which we are experiencing. We are working to train these colleagues as quickly as we can to enable them to support service delivery.”