Payment scheme trialled for self-isolating workers

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Next month: workers in certain parts of England will be able to apply for the payment if they are self-isolating
Next month: workers in certain parts of England will be able to apply for the payment if they are self-isolating

Related tags: Coronavirus, Health and safety, Manchester

The Government has announced a new payment for low income workers asked to self-isolate to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

People who test positive or who are contact-traced to a confirmed case will be able to receive up to £182 if they cannot work while they are self-isolating.

The payment equates to:

  • £130 if an individual has tested positive for coronavirus and has to self-isolate for 10 days (from the point they first developed symptoms).
  • £182 if a member of an individual’s household has tested positive for coronavirus and they are asked to self-isolate for 14 days (from the point the member of their household first developed symptoms).
  • £13 per day (up to a maximum of £182) if an individual is identified as a non-household contact of another person who has tested positive for coronavirus and is asked to self-isolate up until 14 days after they were most recently in contact with the person who tested positive.

The initiative will launch in parts of north west England that have experienced high levels of infection first, on Tuesday 1 September. Workers in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle, and Oldham will be the first to receive the payment in a trial.

Making sacrifices 

Critics have said the new payment, which equates to £13 per day, is still not enough and called on ministers to ensure workers receive the equivalent of their standard wages.

People must be eligible for Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit to receive the additional sum.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the scheme would encourage people to self-isolate when necessary.

He said: “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.

“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."

Not enough

Unions have been lobbying the Government to ensure workers are paid enough to live on during the time they have to take off work. 

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said the payment was “not good enough” and recommended a system similar to the process when individuals complete on jury service.

He said: “I am pleased they have at last acknowledged this issue but am sorry to say this move goes nowhere near far enough.

“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 added: “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.”

Individuals will have to prove their employment status and that they cannot work from home before receiving payments within 48 hours. They will also be asked to provide a notification from NHS Test and Trace and a bank statement.

Pub staff have self-isolated following confirmed cases being linked to their colleagues and customers across the country since the hospitality sector was permitted to reopen on 4 July.

Related topics: Legislation

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