MINISTERS are planning a “hardship fund” in bid to shield hard-up Britons from the potentially damaging impact of a no-deal Brexit, a leaked report has revealed.
The document, published by the cabinet committee responsible for mitigating the worst effects of leaving the EU, offers a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes preparations for Brexit in Whitehall. Other ideas being floated include using “tax and benefits policy” to offset cost-of-living increases, protection for parts of the country deemed to be “geographically vulnerable” to food shortages, and identifying alternative sources of food for schools, prisons and hospitals. The proposals were drawn up at the monthly meeting of the EU exit and trade (preparedness) committee, chaired by Prime Minister Theresa May and attended by the majority of cabinet minister.
One of the “actions arising” circulated after the meeting committed “officials and ministers” in separate departments including the Department for Work (DWP), Pensions and the Treasury to “work on the detail of a possible hardship fund”, according to The Times.
The Bank of England’s modelling of a no-deal Brexit published in November projected unemployment to rise to 7.5 per cent.
Another separate document leaked to newspaper last year claimed the unemployment benefit bill could rise by £12billion over three years, with even a “smooth” no-deal scenario resulting in “adjustment costs”.
The hardship find is likely to consist of a pot of money earmarked for workers who lose their jobs as a result of the UK leaving the EU, who will be able to apply for cash via the government’s network of jobcentres.