Coronavirus: our calls to the government

To safeguard economically vulnerable young women, we are calling on Government to: 

1. Increase protections for those most at risk of financial hardship by ensuring benefits are paid at the rate of at least the National Living Wage (£322.64) for a full-time worker for at least the duration of the crisis, and ensure this applies to all ages: 

  • Universal Credit 
  • Employment Support Allowance 
  • Personal Independence Payment 
  • Carers Allowance 
  • Statutory Sick Pay 

2. Ensure Universal Credit is accessible by all, in a timely way by: 

  • Removing the five-week wait to receive payments 
  • Overhauling administrative support so that people aren’t queuing on phones or online and those without digital access can still get support quickly 
  • Suspending sanctions 

3: Ensure support is available to the most vulnerable families by:

  • Making furlough the default position for groups including parents unable to secure childcare and those on zero hours contracts unless employers can demonstrate why they are unable to furlough staff. This should include a requirement for employers to report on the number of staff they have furloughed alongside reasons for any decision not to furlough staff members.
  • Ensuring food vouchers for those who would otherwise receive Free School Meals are at a level sufficient for them to buy the food they need.
  • Guaranteeing access to healthcare for refugee and migrant women - ending the policy of “no recourse to public funds” and suspending charges for maternity services.

4. Guarantee protections for those who have to work. Many young women are providing essential services including healthcare, social care, schooling for key workers or in supermarkets. The availability of suitable protective measures including clothing and equipment designed for women should be guaranteed, and no young woman should be forced to work in an environment that is unsafe. 

5. Set up an emergency support fund so that frontline services can guarantee support for those experiencing domestic abuse, including economic abuse and coercive control, an increased risk during self-isolation. The Government needs to ensure that the package of financial support acknowledges the risk and ensure the financial measures announced also provide women with financial stability and independence. 

6. Publish an equalities impact assessment of the coronavirus legislation and create a formal policy advisory group to draw on expertise from those charities and organisations working directly with groups affected by the epidemic.