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6 May, 2020 Open access

Citizens Advice calls for range of benefit changes to ensure that all groups are supported during and after the coronavirus lockdown

New report recommends changes to benefit system to fill ongoing gaps and to ensure that 'no one is left behind as we recover from this crisis'

Citizens Advice has called for a range of benefit changes to ensure that all groups are protected during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown and in the longer-term.

In a new report, 'Lockdown Lifeline - Ensuring adequate support across the benefits system during the COVID-19 pandemic', Citizens Advice argues that, although the government has acted quickly to improve the processing of benefit claims and increase support in parts of the system, further urgent measures are needed to fill ongoing gaps and help shore up people’s finances in the coming weeks -

'Many people we help were already in very difficult financial situations before this crisis and new groups of people have faced a sudden income shock. Acting quickly will reduce the risk of large numbers of people falling into unsustainable debt, facing eviction, or losing access to essential services.'

Citizens Advice goes on to say that -

'... as we enter what is likely to be an extended period of economic turbulence, we also need to look at the role of the benefits system beyond the immediate impact that coronavirus has had on people’s jobs and incomes. As the Government prepares for a gradual transition from the current lockdown, these plans must also address existing problems with benefits to ensure the right support is in place for all those who need it. This will be crucial to ensuring no one is left behind as the country recovers from this crisis.'

As a result, Citizens Advice recommends that the government should -

Widen eligibility and access to the benefits system by -

Ensure adequate support across the benefits system by -

Consider longer-term measures to support groups disproportionately affected by coronavirus including -

For more information, see Lockdown Lifeline - Ensuring adequate support across the benefits system during the COVID-19 pandemic from citizensadvice.org.uk