The chancellor rightly won approval yesterday when he extended statutory sick pay to some employees who self-isolate to help contain the corona virus.
But the move does nothing for millions of workers.
If you’re self-employed (4.8 million) or in one of the 1.5 million jobs that don’t qualify for sick pay, the anxiety remains.
This gap reveals what national Citizens Advice* describes as “long-standing flaws and inconsistencies in our sick pay and benefits systems”.
Consider positive Budget announcements on universal credit.
Meanwhile there was no announcement about reducing the 5-week wait for first payment. If you have no money you can apply for an advance payment. But these payments are loans and must be repaid. Beginning a universal credit journey with a sizeable debt leads in a worrying number of cases to dependence on a food bank or even risk of losing your home.
Fit for purpose?
The Budget provides a snapshot of a system often not fit for purpose (if that is to promote the independence and dignity of all citizens). The government needs a longer-term view of how to fill the gaps and build a stronger social safety net.
With thanks to Surrey Welfare Rights Unit ** Response to Budget announcements on sick pay and benefits, Citizens Advice, 11/03/20