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Covid-19 Support: Worst-affected Sectors

Volume 682: debated on Monday 19 October 2020

What discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on support for people in the sectors worst affected by the covid-19 outbreak. (907670)

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his question, because he gives me the opportunity to highlight again what we are doing to help people in the sectors worst affected by the covid-19 outbreak. I have worked with my colleagues across government in forming and delivering our £30 billion plan for jobs to increase employment support, protect jobs and create new opportunities. He will be aware of the kickstart scheme, which particularly focuses on young people, but we will continue to help people of all ages to get back into work.

May I raise the specific issue of the support that is available to single parents when their child has to self-isolate? They are not able to claim statutory sick pay if their child is having to self-isolate at school age. In addition, if they were to apply for universal credit, they would have to restart the process each and every time. I have constituents who have had to self-isolate on multiple occasions because their school-age children have been told they have to stay at home and cannot stay at home on their own. Can the Secretary of State either tell me now, or come back to me on it in writing, what specific support can be directed towards constituents who need that additional support as single parents?

I will certainly ask the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work to look into that detailed issue on SSP. If a person is required to self-isolate as a consequence of somebody in their household having symptoms, then, in my view, they should be eligible for SSP. But given that it is such a legal and technical issue, I will ask my hon. Friend to write to the hon. Gentleman specifically.

Ending the furlough scheme early is going to put livelihoods at risk, so will the Secretary of State provide an update on her discussions with the Treasury about extending the covid-related increase to universal credit and ensuring that it is expanded to legacy benefits? While she is in those discussions, will she raise extending the furlough scheme and ask that the covid self-isolation grants be tax-exempt, as called for by the Social Security Secretary in Scotland, Shirley-Ann Somerville?

There are multiple questions there. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor has already responded by introducing the new job support scheme, which he updated for particular sectors, thinking of tier 3 in England, to extend even further the furlough scheme. It is clear that this Government are doing what is needed. In terms of the other things that the hon. Gentleman mentions, he will be aware that I continue to have regular discussions with my Treasury colleagues on the best way that we can help to support people during this pandemic.