Telecommunications: Coronavirus

Treasury written question – answered on 4th May 2020.

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Photo of Julie Elliott Julie Elliott Labour, Sunderland Central

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the increased telecommunications costs to vulnerable people who are unable to leave their homes during the covid-19 outbreak; and what fiscal support the Government is providing to those people.

Photo of Kemi Badenoch Kemi Badenoch The Exchequer Secretary

The government is committed to supporting individuals through this difficult time. We have increased the generosity of Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by £20 p/w, as well as raising the Local Housing Allowance rate to 30% of market rents. We have made significant changes to the operation of Statutory Sick Pay, Universal Credit, and new style Employment and Support Allowance to ensure that people have quicker and more generous access to a support system.

The government has also agreed a set of commitments with the UK's major telecommunications providers to support and protect vulnerable consumers and those who may become vulnerable due to circumstances arising from COVID-19. These measures include, among others, the removal of all data allowance caps on all current fixed broadband services, and a commitment by providers to work fairly with customers who find it difficult to pay their bills as a result of COVID-19.

In addition, the government recently announced that vulnerable and disadvantaged children across England are to receive laptops, tablets and 4G routers to make remote education accessible. We are also working with the country’s major telecommunication providers to make it easier for children in vulnerable and disadvantaged families, who are relying on mobile data, to access online educational resources.

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