The initial impact of COVID-19 and policy responses on household incomes in the UK

As soon as the scale of the coronavirus shock to the economy became clear, the Government introduced three policies to protect directly household incomes: a Job Retention Scheme, to pay the wages of employees who were temporarily furloughed; a Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, to give grants to established self-employed people whose businesses had been affected; and a package of increases to entitlements to social security benefits, with Universal Credit at the core, that bolstered the UK’s means-tested ‘safety net’. This lecture will discuss the design and beneficiaries of these policies and, given the distributional pattern of the labour market shock, considers the emerging overall impact on living standards, particularly of low-income households.

For further information and analysis, attendees may be interested in a recent publication, by Mike and colleagues: