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Lessons from the Covid-19 crisis for our social security system

This briefing note looks at the lessons we have learnt about the UK’s welfare system over the course of the Covid-19 crisis so far, and what those lessons might mean for its future direction.

The £111 billion spent so far on supporting incomes during the pandemic should remind us of the importance of welfare systems. It also provides an opportunity to ask what we want of such a system, and whether it is currently achieving this. Considerations include: protecting public health and family incomes, providing earnings insurance, and support for those with additional costs.

Much recent debate about reform has focussed on specific details, or has become unrealistic. It is time to consider broader reforms, while remaining grounded in the real needs of society. This report therefore draws out the lessons for the welfare state from both how the existing system performed and also the changes that were swiftly made to it. It also offers examples of practical policy changes that draw on the experience of the past year. The Foundation will build on this work over the next two years as part of the Resolution Foundation’s Economy 2030 Inquiry, undertaken with the LSE and funded by the Nuffield Foundation.