The Government has introduced a package of temporary welfare measures worth around £9.3 billion this year to help with the financial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chancellor announced a series of policies to support people, jobs and businesses on 20 March 2020 during which he confirmed an increase to the Universal Credit standard allowance for 12 months by £1040 a year, which was in addition to planned uprating of 1.7% announced by the Secretary of State in November 2019. Further decisions on spending will be made at the next fiscal event.
In addition to the standard allowance increase, Universal Credit claimants have also benefited from an increase in the Local Housing Allowance rates so that it covers the lowest third of local rents, and during Covid-19 the Minimum Income Floor, (an assumed level of earnings) has been relaxed to zero for self-employed claimants.
The Government has made significant investment to improve Universal Credit’s generosity through the reduction in the taper rate from 65% to 63% in 2017, and an extra £1.7 billion a year put into Work Allowances by 2023/24, increasing them by £1,040 a year for working parents and disabled claimants, from April 2019 - an extra £630 a year in the pockets of 2.4 million of the lowest paid families.