Families set to be hit by expiry of government’s coronavirus support, Labour warns

Series of deadlines to batter families across the country

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Saturday 02 January 2021 08:34
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<p>Charities describe policy change as a ‘loophole’ which would mean disabled people being ‘penalised because of changes out of their control’</p>

Charities describe policy change as a ‘loophole’ which would mean disabled people being ‘penalised because of changes out of their control’

Struggling families are set to face a series of hits to their finances in the coming weeks and months thanks to the expiry of government coronavirus support, Labour has warned.

The government’s eviction ban will come to an end on 11 January, with 29 January also the deadline for self-employed people to access grants. This will be followed by the deadline for mortgage holiday applications on 31 January.

Meanwhile universal credit claimants will lose the temporary boost to their social security payments on 6 April. The government’s furlough scheme is scheduled to come to an end on 30 April.

The government has repeatedly extended many of these deadlines, an approach Labour has characterised as “chaotic” and “last-minute”.

But there is pressure from some Tory MPs on the chancellor Rishi Sunak to cut spending and let the grants expire.

Though the opposition has stopped short of calling for all the deadlines to be extended or relaxed, Labour wants the temporary £20-a-week pandemic boost to universal credit kept in place.

They point out that families in the UK entered the pandemic with one of the lowest rates of savings in the developed world, making it harder to weather the crisis.

“The irresponsible decisions taken by the Conservatives over the last decade left many UK households without a penny in the bank going into this crisis,” said Anneliese Dodds, Labour’s shadow chancellor.

“When Covid hit, they had nothing to fall back on – and now some are teetering on the brink of financial ruin as several Covid support cliff-edges loom.

“The Chancellor’s chaotic, last-minute approach to this crisis plunged the UK into the worst downturn of any major economy, but it seems he hasn’t learned any lessons.

“Families up and down the country will continue to suffer if he doesn’t fix Britain’s broken safety net and tackle the root causes of income insecurity across our country.”

A study by left-leaning think tank, the Fabian Society, found that more than three million people would be plunged into poverty if Mr Sunak goes ahead with his planned cuts to universal credit. The one-year increase unveiled by the chancellor cost £6bn in current spending.

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