I have been contacted regarding the impact of the coronavirus crisis on young people. The Covid-19 crisis has been a difficult time for many people across Broxtowe but I recognise the particular concerns for under-25s.
Universal Credit was designed to simplify the benefits system with a focus on helping people into work and supporting their in-work progression. Having a simplified benefits system has been hugely beneficial during this crisis and has allowed much of the focus to be on bolstering the existing system, not trying to reinvent it. Differential rates are paid according to peoples’ individual circumstances and age, although I would emphasise that the Department for Work and Pensions has increased the standard allowance in UC for all claimants. I would also add that additional amounts which provide for specific needs such as children or disability are paid at a standard rate in addition to the standard allowance, irrespective of age.
Universal Credit claimants can also get support with housing costs which can help to pay private landlords, local authorities or interest payments on a mortgage. In response to Covid-19, the Local Housing Allowance rates for Housing Benefit and Universal Credit claimants have been increased to the 30th percentile of local rents, providing additional financial support for private renters. If people need further support with rent Discretionary Housing Payments are available, while a £500 million Hardship Fund provides council tax relief to vulnerable people in England.
I understand the importance of ensuring that young people are supported through the Coronavirus emergency. Benefits, however, are only one part of that support. I know my colleagues in Government have been working hard to protect jobs by helping businesses to open safely, while the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Self Employed Income Support Scheme have helped to keep people in their roles throughout an uncertain period. I hope the new Job Retention Bonus will add to this. Keeping young people in jobs and close to the labour market must be our priority.
This is an extremely important matter and I will continue to raise this issue with my Ministerial Colleagues. If any young person in Broxtowe is struggling, please do not hesitate to get in contact and I will do my best to assist.