#AceFinanceReport – Mar.22: Universal Credit is to be increased by £1,000 a year as the government announced ‘unprecedented’ emergency economic measures to deal with coronavirus: In a £7bn welfare support package, working tax credits and housing benefit will also be increased and claimant rules relaxed for the self-employed: Following criticism that the Chancellor’s £350bn bail-out earlier this week was focused on businesses but not on workers, he said the latest measures would help ‘four million of the most vulnerable households’ BBC News reports.
Universal credit, housing benefit and working tax credit to be hiked in £7bn coronavirus package
The measures, part of an ‘unprecedented’ economic bail-out, were welcomed by trade unions as ‘vital steps’ to protect working families
The Chancellor, left, announcing ‘unprecedented’ economic measures (Image: PA)
Alongside the rise in benefits payments, Rishi Sunak said the minimum income floor for the self employed would be scrapped so that they can claim Universal Credit: ”I’m strengthening the safety net for self-employed people too by suspending the minimum income floor for everyone affected by the economic impact of coronavirus,” he said.
”That means that self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay for employees.”……The next statutory tax self-assessment would also be delayed until next January, he added.
Universal Credit ‘standard allowance’ – £323.22 a month for single people and £507.37 a month for couples – will be raised by £1,000 for the next 12 months, with working tax credits increased by the same amount: Housing benefit will now be set at 30pc of market rent………………But he warned: “I cannot promise you that no-one will face hardship in the weeks ahead.”
The welfare package comes alongside a new programme called the ‘Covid Job Retention Scheme’ which will see the government pay 80pc of retained workers’ wages up to a maximum of £2,500 a month: “I have a responsibility to make sure that we protect, as far as possible, people’s jobs and incomes,” said the Chancellor……..”Today I can announce that in the first time of our history, the Government is going to step in and help pay people’s wages…………..”We’re setting up a new coronavirus job retention scheme. Any employer in the country small or large, charitable or non-profit, will be eligible for the scheme.
“Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages of people who are not working but are furloughed and kept on payroll rather than being laid off: “Government grants will cover 80pc of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month – that’s just above the median income.”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the announcement was a ‘breakthrough’, adding: “The Chancellor has shown real leadership. We’re glad he has listened to unions and taken vital steps to support working families: “Large-scale wage subsidies are the best way to boost household finances and keep businesses running, and they’ll help our economy bounce back after this crisis.
“Employers across the economy can now be confident that they will be able to pay their wage bills: They must urgently reassure their staff that their jobs and livelihoods are safe.”
Mr Sunak said the shock to the UK economy caused by coronavirus was unlike any other, calling his package ‘unprecedented’ measures ‘for unprecedented times’..…………..His move came as businesses had already begun to shed workers this week – particularly in the leisure industry, following advice to avoid venues – and fears had been escalating that people would be left with no financial safety net at all……..Mr Sunak said the response will be ‘one of the most comprehensive in the world’……He added: “To all those at home, right now anxious about the days ahead, I say you will not face this alone.”
#AceFinanceDesk report …………..Published: Mar.22: 2020:
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