Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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What the Petitions Committee is doing

Petition Encourage lenders, landlords and utilities to freeze payments during lockdown

If the country is locked down during a pandemic, the government should work with mortgage providers, landlords and utility companies to freeze rent, mortgage and utility bill payments.

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This should happen for everyone unable to work during that period, whether their workplace has been closed, or they have to stay home to look after children.

If the country is locked down due to a pandemic many people wont be able to work for various reasons. During this time people should not have to worry about their finances. If it is everyone's best interest that people stay home then support should be offered to allow people to do so. Statutory sick pay does not cover most people's rent, and many people do not have savings, and if we dont support these people we risk forcing them to go to work when they shouldnt be doing so.

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Government responded

This response was given on 3 April 2020

The Government has announced cross sector support for consumers and businesses impacted by Covid 19 and we will continue to consider how consumers can be further supported.

On the 17 March, the Chancellor announced on behalf of the sector that banks and building societies will offer a 3-month ‘mortgage holiday’ for borrowers, including landlords with Buy-to-Let mortgages, that are financially struggling with their repayments. This forbearance measure will enable affected borrowers to defer their mortgage payments for up to 3 months while they get back on their feet.

The Government has implemented emergency legislation requiring landlords to give tenants three months’ notice if they wish to seek possession. The court service has also halted all housing possession action, initially for 90 days, although this can be extended if needed.

Customers who are concerned about the current financial situation should get in touch with their lender or landlord at the earliest possible opportunity.

With regards to energy bills, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced on 19 March that the Government, working with Citizens Advice, Ofgem and Energy UK have secured an industry-wide agreement to a set of principles for assisting consumers through difficulties caused by Covid-19. These are to: identify and prioritise customers at risk, support customers who are impacted financially as a direct or indirect result of Covid 19, and support prepayment meter customers directly or indirectly impacted by Covid 19 to stay on supply.

The support offered will be based on the individual circumstances of the customer and the systems, processes and capability of the supply company, but could include extending discretionary or friendly credit, or sending out a pre-loaded top up card for traditional prepay customers who are unable to top up.

In the first instance, we suggest self-isolating customers contact their energy supplier to find out what support will be available. If you need further advice, we suggest you contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service (CACS), a Government funded advice service. You can find out more about CACS on website www.adviceguide.org.uk or by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

HM Treasury

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Petitions Committee requests a revised response from the Government

The Petitions Committee (the group of MPs who oversee the petitions system) have considered the Government’s response to this petition. They felt that the response did not directly address the request of petition and have therefore written back to the Government to ask them to provide a revised response.

When the Committee have received a revised response from the Government, this will be published on the website and you will receive an email. If you would not like to receive further updates about this petition, you can unsubscribe below.

Petitions Committee questions Government on its response to coronavirus

Last week the Petitions Committee put some of the most popular questions from the public about coronavirus to the Government Minister for Schools, the Minister for Disabled People and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer. These included:

  • How long will schools be closed for and what will the impact be on exams and grades?
  • What financial support will be available for the self-employed?
  • What financial support will be offered to people who are unable to pay their rent or bills due to self-isolation or loss of work?
  • What support will be offered to the events, creative and hospitality industries now that pubs, clubs and cultural venues have been closed?
  • What clear, practical steps can people take to make sure they are following Government guidance on social distancing, household isolation and self-isolation?
  • Who is being tested and why, and will tests be made freely available to everyone?
  • What is the Government doing to ensure that everyone is getting the right information?

Watch the session on YouTube: https://youtu.be/aPLXJcZEfi8

Read the transcript: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/192/the-governments-response-to-coronavirus/publications/written-evidence/

Because of the large number of petitions that we continue to receive on coronavirus we have sent more questions to the Government to answer.

Read our letters to different Government Ministers: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/publications/3/correspondence/

Some of the questions we’ve asked include:

  • When will testing capacity will be increased; who will testing be available for and will it be free?
  • What is being done to tackle the spread of disinformation?
  • How quickly will support for self-employed people be made available?
  • What will happen to the school year? Will summer holidays be cancelled so that children can catch up?
  • How are foodbanks being supported to continue operating during the outbreak?
  • What is being done to address panic buying and prevent price hikes of key items?
  • Will trains, buses and flights continue to operate? For how long?

We’ll email you again to let you know when we get a response to these questions, and to let you know about any more action the Committee takes.

Who are we?

We are the House of Commons Petitions Committee. We are a cross-party group of MPs that looks at e-petitions submitted on petition.parliament.uk. We are independent from Government. You can find out more about us and our work on our website.

You can follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter: @HoCpetitions.

Further information

You can read impartial House of Commons Library information about coronavirus here: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/coronavirus/

You can find out more about coronavirus and how you can protect yourself and others here:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

You can read NHS tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus here: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-anxiety-tips

Share your experiences of using the benefits system during the coronavirus outbreak

A group of MPs called the Work and Pensions Committee would like to hear about people’s experiences of using the benefits system during the coronavirus outbreak.
 
They’d like to hear from you if:
 
- you’ve started to claim benefits during the coronavirus outbreak (for example, Universal Credit or Employment Support Allowance)
- you were already claiming benefits before the coronavirus outbreak
- you needed support but weren’t able to claim benefits
 
You can share your experiences here: https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=nt3mHDeziEC-Xo277ASzSjmyhv4Lz8tPuToBKZcY2O9UNVJNRzM0M1E1RVk3U0EzWkRDR1czQ1U3Ri4u
 
They’d like to hear from you by Wednesday 15 April. Your answers will help them to understand the issues people are facing and what questions MPs need to ask the Government. 
 
They might publish some or all of your responses, or read them out when they’re asking questions in a public Committee meeting or in the House of Commons. So please don’t share any personal information that you don’t want to be public.
 
You can get updates on their work by following the Committee on Twitter @CommonsWorkpen or on their website: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/164/work-and-pensions-committee

What is the Work and Pensions Committee?

The Work and Pensions Committee looks at and questions how the Government Department for Work and Pensions:

· is run
· spends money
· decides on its policies

It's a cross-party committee and is independent of the Government.

This is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c

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