The Government recognises that as with other households, the income of many separated parents is being impacted by the public health emergency and some receiving parents may receive less maintenance as a result of a paying parent’s drop in income.
We are however clear that no parent should be using this time as an excuse not to pay what they owe. Those found to be abusing the system at this difficult time could find themselves subject to the full extent of our enforcement powers once the emergency passes.
We have made a number changes to the welfare system to ensure people are receiving the support they need. These include increasing the standard rate of Universal Credit and working tax credit for this year by around £1000 per year. People who need money urgently continue to be able to access up to a month’s Universal Credit advance upfront by applying online. In addition, Statutory Sick Pay now applies from day one, rather than the fourth day of illness. We are increasing in the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants so that it covers the cheapest third of local rents – which is on average £600 in people’s pockets.
Taken together, these measures represent an injection of over £6.5 billion into the welfare system and, along with the other job and business support programmes announced by the Chancellor, represent one of the most comprehensive packages of support introduced by an advanced economy in response to the coronavirus outbreak.