Income maintenance in the coronavirus pandemic: turning point or blip?

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


The coronavirus pandemic has been both a public health crisis and an economic crisis. Internationally, states have responded to the economic elements of the crisis in various ways, putting in place new or revised measures to support incomes and/or sustain labour market attachment. In the UK, the flagship responses included the coronavirus jobs retention scheme and increases to the generosity of universal credit, which saw a significant spike in new claims in the early stages of the pandemic. These measures represented a departure from a decade of austerity and of concerns about the ‘moral hazard’ of offering too-generous support to people excluded from paid employment. However, policy continued to privilege those with a current or recent history of paid work, who typically became entitled to a higher level of support than the longer-term workless. Around the same time, evidence began to emerge of a shift in public attitudes to become more supportive of higher social security benefits. This session will examine the social protection response to the pandemic, with a focus on the UK but making reference to measures in other states. As law and policy move from a ‘pandemic’ to ‘endemic’ approach to coronavirus, there will be a particular focus on the extent to which 2020 marked a decisive break with austerity in policy terms, and with public tolerance of austerity, or merely saw some short-term measures that will have little lasting impact. Brief consideration will also be given to the potential for the pandemic to heighten differences in how the different UK countries regard their responsibilities for citizens’ welfare.
Period9 Aug 2022
Event titleSocial welfare summer school: For Department for Communities and Department of Social Protection staff staff
Event typeCourse
LocationBelfast, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • social security
  • social protection
  • welfare state
  • coronavirus
  • covid-19
  • social rights
  • social citizenship
  • devolution