Government financial support – for individuals
The 11 March Budget from the new Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, included £7 billion of expenditure targeting the impact of Covid-19 on employees, the self-employed and businesses.
- On 17 March a further raft of measures was announced, amounting to an additional £20 billion of support expenditure plus £330 billion of loan guarantees.
- By 20 March another round of support was announced of such size that no price tag was attached.
- On 26 March the awaited package for the self-employed was announced.
The Chancellor’s 17 March statement was accompanied by a repeated promise that he would do “whatever it takes” to counter the impact of the virus. Three days later, his second statement gave an indication of how large ‘whatever it takes’ is becoming, with potentially more to come.
We have pulled together a round-up of the key announcements so far for individuals including useful links to government sites.
Measures for individuals
For people who find themselves in financial difficulties because of coronavirus, mortgage lenders will offer at least a three-month mortgage holiday.
Statutory sick pay (SSP)
SSP is currently paid at the rate of £94.25 a week, rising to £95.85 from April. It is now available to employees from day one, instead of day four, for those who are suffering from the virus or who have been advised to self-isolate. So far there has been no change in the minimum earnings threshold for SSP (£118 a week currently, rising to £120 a week in 2020/21).
Individuals ineligible for SSP
Self-employed and gig economy workers generally do not qualify for SSP. Instead they may be entitled to Contributory Employment and Support Allowance.
Covid-19 sufferers and self-isolators will be able to claim the benefit from day one instead of day eight. The minimum income floor in Universal Credit (UC) has been temporarily removed to ensure that time off work because of sickness is reflected in benefits.
For 12 months from 6 April 2020, the standard allowance in Universal Credit (UC) and the basic element in Working Tax Credit (WTC) for will be increased by the equivalent of about £20 a week over and above planned annual uprating (which were to £323.22 per month for UC for age 25 and over and £1,995 a year for WTC). This effectively brings UC into line with the rate of SSP. The change will apply to all new and existing UC claimants and to existing WTC claimants.
Housing benefit and the housing element of UC will be increased so that the Local Housing Allowance will cover at least 30% of market rents.
The Chancellor announced in the Budget a £500 million Hardship Fund, which would be distributed to Local Authorities so that they could support the vulnerable.
Updated government Covid-19 guidance for employees is here.