Key Points
  • The impact of Covid-19 on the benefits system and improving system flexibility and speed to support people in times of crisis
  • Key Covid-19 benefit changes and responding to the difficulties your clients are experiencing
  • Mitigating the impact of the five week wait for Universal Credit claimants and the effectiveness of Advance payments
  • The impact of the pandemic on Universal Credit roll-out
  • How UC, PIP and ESA claims and assessments are working, including adapting assessment processes and navigating to digital systems to prevent the spread of the virus
  • The impact of corona virus on benefits in the housing sector and supporting tenants and landlords facing financial hardship
  • Supporting claimants through awareness raising about benefit entitlement, and improving digital access
  • Supporting groups adversely affected by the pandemic, including the Over 50s, families with children, the self-employed and identifying gaps in the safety net, including migrants with leave to remain
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Overview
Expert Speakers:

  • Debbie Abrahams MP, Chair and Former Sec. of State for Work and Pensions, Chair, APPG Universal Credit and Member, Work and Pensions Select Committee
  • Alan Markey, Chair, National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers (NAWRA)
  • Richard Pettifar, Director of Customer Services, Clarion Housing Group *UK’s Largest Housing Association*
  • Tom Massere, Adviser, Big Book of Benefits
  • Geoff Fimister, Policy Co-Chair, Disability Benefits Consortium
  • Karen Barker, Senior Policy Researcher (Universal Credit), Citizens Advice
  • Daniel Norris, Head of Advice and Rights, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)
  • Karl Handscomb, Senior Analyst, Resolution Foundation
  • Jeremy Hewer, Social Security Policy Lead, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
  • Geoff Fimister, Policy Co-Chair, Disability Benefits Consortium


      The safety net of the welfare state has been put to the test with unprecedented numbers of people applying for benefits following the UK outbreak of Covid-19. With an end to the Government furlough scheme, applications are expected to increase even further throughout 2020 and into 2021 as more businesses are forced to shed jobs.

      The corona virus has not only presented new challenges to the social security system itself, but also to the staff processing claims and supporting the most financially vulnerable. The financial impact of the coronavirus crisis is yet to be fully realised so it is vital that welfare practitioners get ahead of the game to ensure those experiencing financial hardship are adequately supported.

      Westminster Insight’s timely Welfare Reform Forum will explore how to process the huge upsurge in claims, improving advice for those dealing with immediate cash flow problems, changing assessment processes to safeguard claimants, identifying people falling through gaps in the system and supporting the most vulnerable people financially affected by the pandemic.

Agenda
Start

09:00 - 09:10
Chair's Opening Remarks

 

Speakers

Alan Markey Chair, National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers (NAWRA)

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09:10 - 09:40
Keynote Address: Current Challenges and the Future Direction of Social Security Reform

 
  • The implications of the Government’s response to COVID 19 on the social security system 
  • Improving system design, delivery, flexibility and speed to support people in times of crisis
  • Ensuring the social security system can weather the longer-term effects of the crisis
  • Creating a person-centred, holistic and supportive social security system
09:30 – 09:40 Questions and Discussion

Speakers

Debbie Abrahams MP Chair and Former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Chair, APPG. Universal Credit and Member Work and Pensions Select Com

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09:40 - 10:20
A Practical Adviser Review of the Covid-19 Changes and Where Next for Welfare Reform

 
  • What did we learn from the experience of Covid-19 changes to benefits?
  • Where are we now with any ongoing adjustments to benefits available and claims and assessment processes?
  • How might this inform next steps in Welfare Reform?  
10:10 – 10:20 Questions and Discussion

Speakers

Tom Messere Adviser and Author, Big Book of Benefits

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10:20 - 10:50
Panel Discussion: Managing the Impact of Covid-19 on Benefits and the Roll Out of Universal Credit at a Local Level

 
  • Managing the upsurge in applications
  • Mitigating the impact of the five week wait for Universal Credit claimants
  • Examining the effectiveness of Advance payments
  • How the Universal Credit, PIP and ESA claims and assessment processes are working
  • The impact of Covid-19 on the roll-out of Universal Credit and the experiences of claimants transitioning from the legacy system
  • Awareness initiatives to ensure people know the new range of entitlements that could apply to them
  • Reviewing barriers claimants experience in accessing online platforms and exploring potential solutions to promote digital engagement with the benefits system
10:40 – 10:50 Questions and Discussion

Speakers

Karl Handscomb Senior Analyst, Resolution Foundation

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Karen Barker Senior Policy Researcher, Citizens Advice

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10:50 - 11:00
Break

 

11:00 - 11:30
Future Challenges of Benefit Conditionality

 
  • Understanding the new challenges Covid-19 brings to finding work
  • Identifying groups who risk facing particular barriers to work as a result of coronavirus
  • Developing support within the benefits system for people to enter and progress in work in these challenging circumstances

11:20-11:30 Questions and Discussion

Speakers

Karen Barker Senior Policy Researcher, Citizens Advice

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11:30 - 12:00
Panel Discussion: Identifying Gaps in Welfare Provision and Supporting Vulnerable Groups Disproportionately Affected by Covid-19

 
  • Identifying gaps in the safety net, including migrants with leave to remain and the self-employed
  • Supporting new groups adversely affected by the pandemic, including the Over 50s 
  • Changes to entitlement and problems faced by groups with particular needs, including disabled people, single parents, people leaving prison and people experiencing homelessness.
11:50-12:00 Questions and Discussion

Speakers

Dan Norris Head of Advice and Rights, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)

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Geoff Fimister Policy Co-Chair, Disability Benefits Consortium

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12:00 - 12:30
Panel Discussion: Universal Credit and Housing

 
  • The impact of Covid-19 on housing providers, landlords and tenants
  • Evaluating the impact of corona virus and alternative approaches to delivering UC and housing benefits in Scotland
  • Managing the long-term financial implications of the corona virus on the housing sector and benefit recipients, protecting landlords and tenants that can’t pay their rent
12:20-12:30 Questions and Discussion

Speakers

Jeremy Hewer Social Security Policy Lead, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA)

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Richard Pettifar Director of Customer Services, Clarion Housing Group

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12:30 - 12:40
Chair’s Closing Remarks

 

Speakers

Alan Markey Chair, National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers (NAWRA)

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End

Speakers

Debbie Abrahams MP Chair and Former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Chair, APPG. Universal Credit and Member Work and Pensions Select Com

Read profile

Karen Barker Senior Policy Researcher, Citizens Advice

Read profile

Geoff Fimister Policy Co-Chair, Disability Benefits Consortium

Read profile

Karl Handscomb Senior Analyst, Resolution Foundation

Read profile

Jeremy Hewer Social Security Policy Lead, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA)

Read profile

Alan Markey Chair, National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers (NAWRA)

Read profile

Tom Messere Adviser and Author, Big Book of Benefits

Read profile

Dan Norris Head of Advice and Rights, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)

Read profile

Richard Pettifar Director of Customer Services, Clarion Housing Group

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Venue details

Digital Event Broadcast Live


Speakers
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