Local MSP Neil Findlay has offered his full backing to Citizens Advice Scotland’s (CAS) proposals to help people across the country amidst the Coronavirus crisis.
In a letter dated 18th March 2020, the Chair of CAS Rory Mair appealed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to urgently implement a number of radical policies in order to “protect household incomes”.
CAS, who help approximately 270,000 people last year, unlocking £131 million for households, anticipate that the demand for their services both during and after the coronavirus crisis will skyrocket.
To alleviate the pressure on their organisation, and to help millions of people cope during this unprecedented crisis, CAS has proposed a number of urgent reforms, including:
· A crisis minimum income of £180 per week.
· Protection for people in debt: Due to sickness or loss of income many people will be unable to pay their debts over the coming months. CAS recommends a 3-month freeze on interest rates to apply to overdrafts.
· Emergency reforms to Universal Credit: CAS proposes scrapping the income floor for all self-employed workers and introduce an immediate non-repayable grant for new claimants.
· No evictions: CAS has proposed that tenants need reassurance that if they are ill or cannot pay their rent then they are safe from eviction.
· A boost to statutory sick pay.
· Retaining workers: CAS has proposed that the government could introduce a new payment to employers to protect the income of those in sectors “at risk of redundancy”.
· Energy Bills: CAS have proposed boosting the Winter Energy Payment and offering further application of the Warm Homes Discount.
· Social Tariffs: CAS proposes greater application and promotion of BTs social tariff in order to get people online to limit social isolation.
· Deferring Bills.
Reacting, Neil Findlay MSP said:
“Alongside this unprecedented health pandemic comes an economic crisis.
“The government, both in Scotland and the UK, should take bold action to ensure that households across the country are protected financially during this extremely difficult time.
“This includes financial protection in the form of deferring bills, boosting statutory sick pay and protecting jobs, in addition to radical action to ensure renters are protected from eviction.
“It is time to put the welfare of people across the country first. I am fully behind the proposals put forward by CAS and hope to see them implemented urgently.