The Chancellor rightly started today’s budget speech with the need to take action to protect people both from Coronavirus, and from its economic impacts. He promised the NHS would get the funding it needs, and a range of business support measures – including taking the sensible step of reimbursing small businesses for the costs of sick pay.
But the announcements on protecting workers who need to self-isolate still fall short. The Chancellor set out that:
But rather than extend eligibility for sick pay to those who don’t earn enough to qualify, the Chancellor told them to turn to the benefit system instead.
And while he announced minor improvements to the way the system works (ending the seven day wait for contributory Employment and Support Allowance), the benefit system still isn’t fit to provide the support people need. That’s because:
We already know that sick pay is a significant drop in income for those most likely to be affected. Asking them to live on £73 a week risks pushing people into poverty and debt.
Statutory sick pay as a proportion of weekly pay, by occupation
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