A Bout us 3

Praying for the Department of Work and Pensions

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is facing extraordinary challenges during Covid-19. This article - written by Tsdaquah Community member Jen Williams - reflects on some of these challenges and offers a prayer for the DWP and all who are seeking support from the DWP.

The coronavirus crisis is an unprecedented economic emergency and a significant number of people are losing work and losing income as the pandemic has worsened.

The DWP has revealed that 950,000 successful applications for Universal Credit were made from 16th-31st March. This is a huge increase from the 100,000 benefit claims which the DWP would normally process in a fortnight and indicates the pressures the benefit system is facing at the beginning of this crisis. The pressures are set to rise still.

As more people are finding themselves unemployed: those working reduced hours; people who are between jobs; those waiting for the government’s self-employment support package; increasing numbers of people are needing the support of Universal Credit.

There are challenges to making a new claim with pressures on the system. People are finding there are long queues to access the DWP system and online verification process.

It can then take up to five weeks for a first payment of Universal Credit to be made. A person waiting for their first payment can take out an advance payment, essentially a loan, which is paid back to the government out of future monthly payments. There are calls for the government to make advance payments non-repayable grants during this time of crisis.

The government is also aiming to boost capacity within the DWP by moving 10,000 existing HMRC staff so that they can help on the front line, and are recruiting more staff.

We offer this prayer for all who work for and all who are seeking support from the DWP at this time. We invite you to say it with us daily as a prayer of intercession.