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Covid-19 Support: Eligibility

Volume 682: debated on Monday 19 October 2020

What steps she has taken to support the welfare of people ineligible for the Government’s economic support packages during the covid-19 outbreak. (907688)

During the pandemic, several economic support measures have been announced by the Chancellor, including supporting the retention of 9.6 million jobs through the furlough scheme. Additionally, 2.2 million individuals have claimed £5.6 billion under the second self-employment income support scheme grant announced by the Chancellor as part of his winter economic plan. The Department has spent £9.3 billion on additional support, including the increase of the universal credit standard allowance by £20 a week. Together, those measures provide a safety net for almost everyone who needs it, but eligibility for the different support packages is set out clearly on gov.uk.

Small businesses account for about 13 million people employed, which is about 60% of the workforce, and many of them are in trouble. When I spoke this weekend to ForgottenLtd, which represents people who are not in receipt of benefit, it told me that its latest survey showed that 70% of its members receive no benefit whatsoever. Do the Government intend to do something about that? If so, will the Minister meet me to discuss the criteria for improvement?

I know that my right hon. Friend has campaigned hard on the subject. The question may be better directed at the Chancellor of the Exchequer or Ministers from Her Majesty’s Treasury, as I know he has also done.

Universal credit is an in-work and out-of-work benefit. It is also available for those who are self-employed. As the Secretary of State set out in her letter to the Work and Pensions Committee last month, we plan to proceed with the reinstatement of the minimum income floor, and claimants will be contacted as it is reinstated for them. Notwithstanding my right hon. Friend’s point, more than £13 billion of support has already been provided for more than 2.6 million self-employed individuals through the first two stages of the self-employment income support scheme and the scheme has now been extended.