E-petition session: Support for households during COVID-19

Posted on September 18, 2020

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On Thursday 17 September the Petitions Committee has held a hybrid e-petitions session to discuss petitions relating to supporting households during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 347,000 petitioners have signed parliamentary petitions relating to supporting households through the coronavirus crisis, as the Government continues to adapt the support system being offered across the country. The session has allowed MPs to discuss these petitions, including:

• Implement Universal Basic Income to give home and food security through Covid19: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/302284
• Encourage lenders, landlords and utilities to freeze payments during lockdown: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/302256
• Require councils to suspend council tax payments during the coronavirus outbreak: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/303274

Ministers from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Department for Work and Pensions and Treasury have been attending to respond to the debate.

This session was scheduled because sittings in Westminster Hall (where e-petitions are normally debated) were still suspended as part of Parliament’s arrangements for adapting to the Coronavirus outbreak. This session was held in one of Parliament’s committee rooms, with the option of MPs participating via video-link, giving them the opportunity to debate and question Government Ministers on the issues being raised by petitioners.

You can watch the live recording from 2.30pm to 4.13pm on Thursday 17 September or read the transcript here.

Several contributions about UBI are very encouraging, others are disappointing. I am particularly disappointed about the contribution of a senior civil servant from DWP. He does not seem to be able to separate between gross and net costs of a Universal Basic Income. I would expect a person in this position to be able to explain this important difference to the public. Unfortunately there could also be another explanation based on a proverb from Mark Twain: “It is very difficult to tell the truth, if you are paid not to“.

In case you have any comments on the debate, please send to r.huss@posteo.net . As long as they adhere to ethical standards and respect, they will be published on this blog.