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This Commons Library briefing paper follows our previous Coronavirus: Support for household finances paper.[1] Particularly part 4, which described social security measures taken in response to the coronavirus crisis. Here, we outline the changes made by the Department for Work and Pensions, expectations for their withdrawal and the wider plans for recovery.

Many policy issues touched upon in this paper are fast-moving areas which are subject to change. This paper should therefore be read as correct at the date of publication (22 October 2020).

The coronavirus outbreak, alongside the public health response to it, has had profound effects on the UK economy, and will continue to do so. These impacts have had inevitable consequences for household finances, prompting the Government to make a series of changes to the rules and operation of the benefits system, among many other measures such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Most of these changes, such as increases to benefit levels and the suspensions of work-related conditionality, face-to-face meetings at Jobcentres and disability benefit reassessments, are intended to be temporary. Some measures have set expiry dates, while others remain under review.

Looking ahead, the Department for Work and Pensions will be planning for its response to the replacement of the Treasury-run Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme with the Job Support Scheme, the extension of the Self Employment Income Support Scheme, and a second wave of the coronavirus. During this time, it will be managing a significantly higher number of benefit claimants than it anticipated at the beginning of the year, and attempting to meet the challenge of helping people back into work.

This paper is a resource to help understand the expected process of withdrawing crisis social security measures and is split into two parts.

Part 1: Changes to social security during the crisis, which summarises changes and discusses publicly available information on Department for Work and Pensions plans for recovery from the crisis.

Part 2: Details of changes and expected withdrawal dates, which provides two resources, designed to be regularly updated:

  • An up-to-date table outlining major changes to social security made during the crisis, their expected withdrawal dates and current status.
  • A rolling timeline of announcements relating to the withdrawal of social security changes and recovery planning.

We cover developing policy, so the contents of this paper will be updated periodically and should be considered current as of the date on the title page.

[1]    Coronavirus: Support for household finances, Commons Library Briefing CBP-8894, 22 June 2020

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