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Coronavirus: Labour urges UK government to extend support as Brits face financial 'cliff-edge'

Suban Abdulla
·3-min read
Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds responds after Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak set outs his Winter Economy Plan to MPs in the House of Commons, London. (Photo by House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds has urged chancellor Rishi Sunak “to protect struggling households from financial ruin.” Photo: House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images

The UK’s Labour Party has called on the government to extend some coronavirus related support, which are due to expire in the first three months of 2021.

Many low and middle-income households in the UK are set to be hit by a slew of financial “cliff-edges” in the coming weeks and months as government coronavirus grants are due to expire.

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds has called on chancellor Rishi Sunak to keep the temporary £20 ($27)-a-week pandemic boost to universal credit in place till the coronavirus crisis is over.

“Whether employed, self-employed, relying on social security or a combination of all three, Britain’s beleaguered households face several cliff edges in the first few months of 2021,” Dodds said.

In a new year message to Sunak, Dodds asked the chancellor to extend a range of COVID-19 rescue measures “to protect struggling households from financial ruin.”

Universal credit claimants will lose the temporary boost to their social security payments on 6 April. Meanwhile, the furlough scheme is due to come to an end on 30 April.

The government’s ban on evictions ends on 11 January, with the deadline for the self employed to access coronavirus support grants is due to end on 29 January.

This is closely followed by the deadline for stamp duty holiday applications and end of the ban on home repossessions on 31 January. Dodds has called for the extension of the bans beyond the cut-off date.

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It comes as the opposition said that Britain entered the pandemic with one of the lowest savings rates in the developed world.

Labour revealed that Britons were among the worst-prepared for a financial crisis after analysis showed they entered the pandemic with one of the lowest levels of savings in the developed world.

UK households saved £3,055 less than the average across other economies in the G7 group of nations in 2019. Figures also showed that a quarter had less than £100 in savings when the first lockdown was imposed last March.

In November, the Bank of England (BOE) found that 28% of households experienced a drop in income during the first wave of the pandemic, rising to 66% among self-employed people.

Dodds said: “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. 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.”

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