Package of measures in Budget 2020 include removal of waiting days, changes relating to the minimum income floor, relaxation of the requirement to attend a jobcentre, and further extension of SSP entitlement
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a package of ‘temporary, timely and targeted’ welfare reforms to support individuals affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Outlining the government’s plan to manage the economic impact of the outbreak in today's Budget Speech 2020, and to provide support for affected individuals and businesses, Mr Sunak said -
‘…the right immediate policy response is to provide security and support for those who get sick or can’t work through funding our public services, and a strengthened safety net.
And on the supply side, the right response is to provide a bridge for businesses, to ensure that what is a temporary impact on our productive capacity does not become permanent.
In other words, our response will be temporary, timely and targeted.’
In addition to measures already announced to support individuals - including to allow statutory sick pay (SSP) to be paid from the first day to people who have coronavirus or have to self-isolate, and government advice to employers to use discretion not to require a GP fit note for coronavirus-related absences - Mr Sunak announced new policy changes including -
- temporary extension of SSP to cover individuals who are unable to work because they have been advised to self-isolate, and people caring for those within the same household who display coronavirus symptoms and have been told to self-isolate;
- bringing forward a temporary alternative to the fit note which can be used for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak - enabling people who are advised to self-isolate to obtain a notification by calling NHS 111 which they can use as evidence for absence from work where necessary;
- making new style employment and support allowance (ESA) payable from the first day of sickness, rather than the eighth day, for people directly affected by coronavirus or self-isolating according to government advice;
- removing the current requirement to attend a jobcentre in order to claim universal credit and access advance payments for those directly affected by coronavirus or self-isolating;
- introducing a temporary relaxation of the minimum income floor in universal credit for the duration of the outbreak, for those directly affected by coronavirus or self-isolating; and
- new grant funding of £500 million to local authorities in England to support economically vulnerable people and households - most of this funding is expected to be used to provide more council tax relief, either through existing local Council Tax Support schemes, or through complementary reliefs.
In addition to the measures to address the coronavirus outbreak, other welfare-related policy announcements in Budget 2020 include -
- a reduction of the maximum rate at which deductions can be made from a universal credit award from 30 per cent to 25 per cent of the standard allowance;
- giving claimants up to 24 months to repay advances;
- additional exemptions from the shared accommodation rate for universal credit and housing benefit claimants to exempt rough sleepers aged 16 to 24, care leavers up to the age of 25, and victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking under 35;
- stopping the export of child benefit payments made in respect of children living overseas - this will apply to EEA migrants arriving in the UK under the new immigration system, from January 2021; and
- aligning EEA migrants’ access to non-contributory benefits with non-EEA nationals - this will apply to EEA migrants arriving in the UK under the new immigration system, from January 2021.
For more information see Budget 2020 from gov.uk