Alex welcomes benefits assessment suspension news – and joins calls for further measures to protect workers, the sick and renters

Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, has welcomed the news from the Department of Work and Pensions that all benefits assessments will be suspended for a period of three months while all efforts are made to tackle the Covid-19 emergency.

The news means that anyone who was expected to attend a face-to-face assessment for PIP or other benefit has had their appointment cancelled by the Government. They will be contacted to discuss next steps and alternative arrangements, which could involve either telephone or paper-based assessments.

Alex welcomed the news but called for all assessments to be halted to remove the risk of payments being stopped.

The MP has also joined calls from the Official Opposition for the Government to bring forward a package of measures to protect wages for workers, those laid off from work, the sick and self-isolating, self-employed and renters.

Alex said:

The news to suspend face-to-face PIP, ESA and Universal Credit assessments is very welcome, but I would like the Government to go further and guarantee that payments will not be reduced during this emergency. The Work and Pensions Secretary must act urgently to make sure people can immediately access the help they need.

The Government now needs to bring forward a package of measures to ensure workers, the self-employed and renters don’t lose out if they are forced to self-isolate due to coronavirus.

The Labour Party yesterday use two Opposition Day debates to challenge the government on its approach to tackling the coronavirus pandemic, focusing on statutory sick pay and social care, and published draft legislation which would stop coronavirus evictions.