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FCA proposals "a welcome short-term reprieve" says Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice has responded to the Financial Conduct Authority's announcement of a series of temporary measures to help those with credit card and some other short term debts during the coronavirus outbreak.

Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“These proposals offer a welcome short-term reprieve for many of those suddenly facing the immediate financial shock of coronavirus.

“But the debt will still be there waiting for borrowers at the end of these three months, and could suddenly have a high interest rate piled on top of it.

“Another major concern is that these protections don’t seem to cover the most vulnerable borrowers, such as those with payday loans.

“The financial fallout of coronavirus will not be fixed by July. The FCA may well need to extend these measures to ensure all customers are protected until they can get their finances back on track.”

Suspension of evictions for three months “huge relief” for many people says Citizens Advice

The government’s announcement that no new eviction proceedings from either social or private rented accommodation can start for at least three months has been welcomed by Citizens Advice.

Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“This news will come as a huge relief to many people. These are extraordinary times and it’s great to see the government stepping up and acting quickly to make sure people don’t lose their homes as a result of this crisis.  

“We called for an end to evictions as part of our package of measures to help protect people from the worst financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“The government should now rapidly introduce a wider range of support to protect people’s incomes, including increasing sick pay and ensuring benefits give people enough to live on.”

Citizens Advice responds to today's Budget announcements on sick pay and benefits

Citizens Advice has welcomed the announcement today by Chancellor Rishi Sunak of extensions to statutory sick pay. But the charity warns the coronavirus outbreak has exposed "long-standing flaws and inconsistencies" in the sick pay and benefits systems. 

Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“The Chancellor’s decision to extend statutory sick pay to those self-isolating will be a relief to some workers. But the self-employed and people in the 1.5 million jobs that don’t qualify for sick pay are still at risk of falling through the gaps if they become unwell. 

“We’re pleased to see the waiting period for contributory Employment and Support Allowance has been removed, but we know those who need to apply for Universal Credit will still face a lengthy wait for a full payment and could be pushed into debt as a result.

“This unprecedented situation has exposed the long-standing flaws and inconsistencies in our sick pay and benefits systems. While today’s measures are encouraging, the government needs to take a longer term view and build on them to ensure our social safety net is fit for purpose.”

Sick pay advice searches soar as Citizens Advice warns Budget must address growing concerns about coronavirus

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Citizens Advice is urging the Chancellor to shore up protections for millions of workers in Wednesday’s budget, including making immediate changes to Universal Credit.

The charity saw three times as many visits to its sick pay advice pages last week compared to the same time last year. It is warning that the current system for sick pay is inadequate to deal with the potential scale of the coronavirus outbreak, and could push many into financial hardship. 

Those affected include five million self-employed workers and at least 1.5 million in low-income jobs that fall below the earnings limit to qualify for statutory sick pay (SSP).

Citizens Advice also has growing concerns that the benefits system is ill-equipped to respond quickly to those seeking financial support if they fall unwell or need to self-isolate. 

Citizens Advice has written to the Chancellor today and urged him to take the following steps in the Budget:

  • Ensure SSP gives people enough to live on and follow through on the government’s proposal to set the level at 80% of statutory sick pay if they are below the current limit to qualify

  • Shorten the five-week wait for the first payment of Universal Credit and consider waiving national insurance requirements for self-employed people to receive contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“The growing outbreak is an unprecedented backdrop for this Budget. Coronavirus won’t discriminate between those eligible for sick pay and people who simply cannot afford to fall unwell. 

“We know this is something front of mind for millions of people who could face the impossible choice of working while ill or ignoring guidance to self-isolate.

“The Chancellor must set out plans to broaden the pool of people eligible for statutory sick pay and ensure that the benefits system can respond flexibly to those who need it. Otherwise millions could fall through the gaps.”