New scheme to support self-isolating workers does not go ‘far enough’, Burnham says

By William Eichler | 27 August 2020

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has criticised the Government’s announcement of a new payment for people who are self-isolating, arguing that it ‘goes nowhere near far enough’.

Health secretary Matt Hancock today announced that people on low incomes who need to self-isolate and are unable to work from home in areas with high incidence of Covid-19 will benefit from a new payment scheme from 1 September.

Starting with a trial in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Oldham, individuals who test positive for the virus will receive £130 for their 10-day period of self-isolation.

Other members of their household, who have to self-isolate for 14 days, will be entitled to a payment of £182. Non-household contacts advised to self-isolate through NHS Test and Trace will be entitled to up to £182.

‘The British public have already sacrificed a great deal to help slow the spread of the virus. Self-isolating if you have tested positive for Covid-19, or have come into contact with someone who has, remains vital to keeping on top of local outbreaks,’ said Mr Hancock.

‘This new payment scheme will help people on low incomes and who are unable to work from home to continue playing their part in the national fight against this virus.’

Mr Burnham welcomed what he characterised as a ‘belated’ response to calls for a scheme to support people who are unable to work from home. However, he argued that the Government’s scheme falls short.

‘I have been calling for weeks for the Government to provide financial support for those asked to self-isolate. I am pleased they have at last acknowledged this issue but am sorry to say this move goes nowhere near far enough,’ he said.

‘The health secretary has already said that he couldn’t live on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) at £95 a week. So how can an announcement like this work?’

‘For many workers in Greater Manchester, this will not provide the support people need to cooperate with NHS Test and Trace,’ he continued.

‘Having belatedly acknowledged that something needs to be done, Government must now accept the calls of the "Time Out to Help Out" campaign and support people across the country to self-isolate on full pay.

‘For us to get a grip on this virus before we head into a winter without a vaccine, the vast majority of those contacted by national Test and Trace need to be able to self-isolate immediately and not worry about loss of earnings or, worse, losing a job. Quite simply, these measures are not good enough.’

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