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Analysis of the UK’s Covid-19 social security response


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Richard Machin of Nottingham Trent University has published an article COVID-19 and the temporary transformation of the UK social security system -

This commentary discusses the implications of the changes made to the social security system by the UK government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Until the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK government did not veer from its programme of welfare reform. However, emergency legislation made significant concessions including: an increase in the value of the UK’s main means-tested benefit Universal Credit, more favourable eligibility rules for the self-employed, a reduced conditionality regime, and an increase in the level of housing support.

This paper argues that although the UK government’s COVID-19 social security response was necessary, it did not go far enough. A temporary lifting of some prejudicial elements of the social security system was welcome but this still leaves an overly complex system characterised by unacceptable delays in payment, inadequate support for many vulnerable groups, and inconsistent experiences for recipients of different benefits.