Fabian Society

Beyond furlough. Better protection following income loss






September 2021 – August 2022

Grant Awarded



Project summary

To develop and secure support for UK-wide and Scotland-only improvements to income replacement policies, using learning from the pandemic.


Income replacement policies provide workers with money when their earnings fall in situations such as unemployment, sickness, parental leave or caring. They consist of non-means-tested income replacement benefits, statutory pay schemes and private insurance.

UK policies offer much less protection than in many other countries and have become less generous over time. Workers with average earnings often lose 80% of their income when their wages stop. Means-tested benefits do not protect people from these severe falls in income and may not be available at all if someone has a working partner or savings.

These problems were exposed by the pandemic. The inadequacy of existing income replacement forced the UK government to develop emergency policies, such as furlough, self-employed grants, self-isolation payments and Statutory Sick Pay reforms. This project examines how we can address this gap in the system.

Project overview

The project will comprise in-depth qualitative interviews with people experiencing lost earnings, exploring their current experiences and ideas for improving the system; opinion polling; and policy modelling.

Findings will be used to produce UK-wide and Scotland-only policy options for new income replacement schemes. The project will also involve advocacy work, using the report’s recommendations to engage with key stakeholders.