Policy Watch

An eye on policy changes in Ireland, the UK and beyond

Disproportionate Impacts of Covid-19 | Urgent Calls To Keep the £20/Week UC Increase | Holding NI Ministers to Account

Right to an Income  |  Mon Feb 15 2021

Disproportionate impacts of Covid-19

A Trades Union Congress (TUC) report said that half of low-paid workers earning under £15k / yearhave suffered a drop in their income during the pandemic, falling deeper into poverty and debt. Proportionally fewer earners from higher income brackets reported a fall in income due to Covid.

Shelter UK highlighted barriers that keep workers with a No Recourse to Public Funds condition on their leave to remain status from accessing the income support the government says they are entitled to under the Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employed-Income Support Scheme. It analysed how these workers have been paying into a benefit system that they cannot fully access.

Urgent calls for the £20/week increase in Universal Credit payments to be extended

The Trussell Trust published survey results that one person in five on Universal Credit thought it 'very likely' they would be forced to rely on food banks to feed themselves if the £20/week uplift in the benefit were removed. It said nearly a quarter of a million parents reported fears that they would not have enough money to cover the basics -- including their children's food -- without it.

For its part, the Resolution Foundation published findings that nearly a third of the 3 million new pandemic-era UC claimants have taken on additional debt since signing on -- even with the £20/week increase. Six out of ten said they expected to struggle or to fall behind on their bills in the coming three months. MPs and local council members called for the rise in UC payments to be extended for a year.

Holding NI Ministers to account

MLAs used the Assembly Question format to request updates from the Department for Communities on payment of outstanding Personal Independence Payment appeals, mitigations for families impacted by the two-child limit on benefits; and waiting times for Universal Credit payments. They asked health officials about the long-term health impact of unemployment. Answers are pending.

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