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Journal Article

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


Publication date

26 Jun 2020


As soon as the scale of the coronavirus shock to the economy became clear, the UK 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 paper analyses 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.

Published in

Oxford Review of Economic Policy

Volume and page numbers

36 , 187 -199





Labour Market, Households, Unemployment, Economics, Living Standards, Public Policy, Welfare Benefits, Income Dynamics, Wages And Earnings, Health, and Covid 19


Open Access; This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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