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Financial and Social Emergency Support Package

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:46 pm on 25th March 2020.

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Photo of Simon Clarke Simon Clarke Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 5:46 pm, 25th March 2020

I can confirm that other Government Departments, alongside my own, will have heard the hon. Gentleman’s remarks, and we will ensure that they are taken to heart.

This is a convenient point to discuss universal credit and some of the related issues, which the hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown raised, as did the hon. Member for Glasgow South West. I can confirm that advances for all new universal credit claimants are now available online or by phone, with no requirement to attend the jobcentre. Earning rules for the self-employed have been temporarily relaxed for those who are sick or self-isolating. From 6 April, we are increasing the standard allowance for UC and the basic element in working tax credit for one year: both will increase by £20 a week on top of the planned annual uprating, and that will apply to all new and existing universal credit claimants and to existing working tax credit claimants, too. We recognise that there is going to be an enormous increase in the number of people claiming universal credit; we will continue to make sure that the system responds to this fast-changing situation.