Social Bubbles 10.06.2020
From this weekend, we will allow single adult households - so adults living alone or single parents with children under 18 - to form a “support bubble” with one other household.
All those in a support bubble will be able to act as if they live in the same household - meaning they can spend time together inside each others’ homes and do not need to stay 2 metres apart.
I want to stress that support bubbles must be exclusive - meaning you cannot switch the household you are in a bubble with or connect with multiple households. And if any member of the support bubble develops symptoms, all members of the bubble will need to follow the normal advice on household isolation.
We are making this change to support those who are particularly lonely as a result of lockdown measures. It is a targeted intervention to limit the most harmful effects of the current social restrictions. It is emphatically not designed for people who don’t qualify to start meeting inside other people’s homes - that remains against the law.
Unfortunately, we cannot advise anyone who is shielding to form a support bubble at this stage, given their particular vulnerability to the virus. However, I want to say I know how hard it is for those of you who are shielding, and we will say more next week about the arrangements that will be in place for you beyond the end of June.
Childcare offers 05.05.2020
The Government has announced that any working parent usually eligible for 30 hours free childcare or Tax-Free Childcare will remain eligible if they fall below the minimum income requirement due to Covid-19
Childcare funding 24.04.2020
The Department for Education has announced that councils will be able to move free entitlements funding in exceptional circumstances, to ensure sufficient childcare places are available for vulnerable children and those of critical workers.
The Government has announced a package of measures to provide financial support needed by individuals, families and businesses through the economic disruption caused by coronavirus. The Treasury is outlining a revision to the UK Debt Management Office (DMO) financing remit for 2020-21, covering May to July 2020 inclusive. The DMO is also publishing details of the revised planned gilt issuance schedule for May to July 2020.
Free School Meal voucher scheme 22.04.2020
The Government has announced that another major supermarket has signed up to the national voucher scheme. Aldi joins a range of supermarkets including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose and M&S where vouchers can be redeemed. More information on the free school meals voucher scheme is available in the guidance.
The Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson’s speech from the Government’s press conference on Sunday (19 April) on the Government’s response to the outbreak of coronavirus and the support for vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils is available online. As part of the package, it was announced that vulnerable and disadvantaged young people will receive free laptops and tablets to help make remote education accessible.
Universal Credit 16.04.2020
The Department for Work and Pensions has announced that people applying for Universal Credit will be able to use their existing Government Gateway account to confirm their identity to speed up their claim. The Department is acting to streamline processes where possible after receiving more than 1.4 million claims since 16 March.
Child Benefit Update
HMRC has announced that they are no longer requiring parents to register their child’s birth in order to claim Child Benefit at this time. Parents of new-born children are encouraged to claim Child Benefit as soon as possible.
Universal Credit Update
The Department for Work and Pensions has announced that in response to the high volume of calls to Universal Credit phone lines, people making new claims for Universal Credit no longer need to call the Department if they need to check any of the information provided as part of the claim.
Child Maintenance Update 09.04.2020
CMS has now confirmed their guidance on dealing with CMS under the current climate.
Support for schools and parents 07.04.2020
It was announced that extra funding will be made available for schools to cover the unique challenges and financial costs of the coronavirus outbreak. The Government has also confirmed that it will extend financial support to children eligible for free schools meals during the Easter holidays.
Recovery of benefit over-payment suspended 03.04.2020
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department for Work and Pensions has temporarily paused the recovery of benefit over-payments, for three months.
Child Maintenance Update 03.04.2020
Updated information on CMS online portal:
The Department for Work and Pensions is taking steps to make sure it can continue to deliver essential services during the current Coronavirus outbreak, while protecting its staff and customers’ wellbeing. This will, unfortunately, affect some other services it provides. It may mean we cannot work out changes to child maintenance amounts as quickly as usual. We are committed to making sure that over time everyone pays or receives the right amount of child maintenance.
If your circumstances have changed for one of the following reasons, call us straight away. We can only deal with these changes if you report them by phone so please do not report them online.
We cannot accept details of any other changes by phone. You can report them by registering or logging into your self-service account instead
Child Maintenance Update 02.04.2020
Legislation regarding income changes remains unchanged: Incomes must vary by at least 25% for it to have any effect on maintenance liabilities. Those who receive the 80% furlough payment will be expected to pay their liability in full. Those with a significant reduction in wages, or have lost employment altogether will be able to report the changes and will be protected against collect and pay moves.
Free school meals voucher scheme 31.03.2020
Parents and carers of children eligible for free school meals will receive a weekly £15 voucher through their child’s school to spend on food in a range of shops. The Department for Education has also published new guidance on free school meals to help schools and parents prepare.
Child Maintenance Update 31.03.2020
CMS are no longer accepting calls for any matters other than those relating to Coronavirus, including change of income (still applying 25% threshold), loss of employment (including Furlough) and changes to the status of the Qualifying Child. All other matters must be submitted via the online portal.
Message from the President of the Family Division: how to submit an appeal during the COVID-19 crisis 31.03.2020
The President of the Family Division has directed that all appeals to the Family Division must be submitted by email to appeals.familydivision@Justice.gov.uk
The subject line of the e-mail should state ‘APPEAL TO HIGH COURT: NEW APPEAL’ If the appeal is urgent, this should be identified in the subject line.
All appellants, even those with PBA accounts or applying for fees exemption, will need to submit Form EX160B in relation to the issue fee in order to enable the Fees Office to process fees when the office re-opens. It is accepted that appeals may be issued and it will NOT be possible to pay the fee within the 5 days specified on EX160B.
All documents in support of an appeal must be supplied in digital format, preferably PDF or Word.
Coronavirus Crisis: Guidance on Compliance with Family Court Child Arrangement Orders 24.03.2020
During the current Coronavirus Crisis some parents whose children are the subject of Child Arrangements Orders made by the Family Court have been understandably concerned about their ability to meet the requirements of these court orders safely in the wholly unforeseen circumstances that now apply.
This short statement is intended to offer advice but, as the circumstances of each child and family will differ, any advice can only be in the most general form.
The key message should be that, where Coronavirus restrictions cause the letter of a court order to be varied, the spirit of the order should nevertheless be delivered by making safe alternative arrangements for the child.
The Rt. Hon. Sir Andrew McFarlane
President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice