All together now?

The impacts of the Government’s coronavirus income support schemes across the age distribution

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Government introduced three policies to directly protect household incomes: the coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS), the self-employment income support scheme (SEISS), and a significant boost to social security benefits. These are estimated to cost £71.5 billion in the current financial year. This note looks at how that financial support has been distributed across people from different age groups during the first months of the crisis.

We find that each of the three programmes has been targeted at different groups. But these patterns are not driven by an explicit age rule in any of the three programmes. Instead, they reflect a mixture of ingrained generational differences in the UK’s labour market pre-Covid, the nature of the initial shock to economic activity caused by the UK’s response to the pandemic, and the historical design of the social security system. They also give an indication to who might be financially at risk when the schemes come to an end.