Personal Income: Coronavirus

Treasury written question – answered on 26th March 2020.

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Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance, North Down

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of a Government funded universal basic income as an emergency measure to protect incomes and livelihoods during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Mike Hill Mike Hill Labour, Hartlepool

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of a universal basic income during the covid-19 crisis.

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

The Government is doing whatever it can to ensure that individuals, families and businesses are supported during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is focusing on measures that can be implemented as quickly as possible. The Government also believes that using existing frameworks for those who need additional support is the quickest and most effective way to do so during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Government announced at Budget and in recent days, a wide-ranging package of measures to support individuals, families and employees affected by Covid-19. These include:

  • making Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) available for individuals diagnosed with Covid-19 or those unable to work because they are self-isolating in line with government guidance. This is in addition to the change announced by the Prime Minister that SSP will be payable from day one instead of day four for affected individuals.
  • announcing a 3-month “mortgage holiday” for borrowers that are struggling financially with their repayments. This will allow affected borrowers to defer their repayments for up to three months while they get back on their feet.
  • introducing the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help firms continue to keep people in employment. Businesses can put workers on temporary leave and the Government will pay them cash grants to cover 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500 per month, providing they keep the worker employed.
  • ensuring that those who are not eligible for SSP can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance.
  • increasing the standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element of Working Tax Credit by up to £20 per week.
  • a further temporary relaxation of earnings rules for self-employed Universal Credit claimants.
  • increasing the Local Housing Allowance for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants to the 30th percentile of market rents.

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