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25 March, 2020 Open access

Resolution Foundation calls on government to raise contributory JSA and ESA rates and reform universal credit capital limits in response to coronavirus outbreak

Changes needed to assist those who are unable to access universal credit under current rules on income and capital

The Resolution Foundation has called on the government to raise contributory jobseeker's allowance (JSA) and employment and support allowance (ESA) rates in line with the increase to the standard rate of universal credit announced on 20 March 2020, and to reform the universal credit capital rules.

In a report published today, 'Next steps to support family incomes in the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis', the Resolution Foundation welcomes the establishment of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - which will pay 80 per cent of the wages of people who are placed on furlough due to the virus - but says that more needs to be done to provide compensation for falls in income among self-employed people and employees who still lose their jobs despite the retention scheme or experience cuts in their working hours.

To address these gaps, the Foundation says that the government should -

In relation to social security, the Foundation highlights that entitlements to universal credit are assessed against both family income and savings, with the effect that a self-employed worker who lives with a partner with their own earnings or who has high levels of savings may not be able to access universal credit at all even if their business collapses, and that the same problem may apply to an employee who is made redundant rather than being placed on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The Foundation therefore goes on to argue that there are two solutions that would help people in this situation who are unable to benefit from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and also receive only minimal compensation via the benefits system -

Today's report Next steps to support family incomes in the face of the coronavirus crisis is available from