Coronavirus National & International

Low-income workers to receive payments for self-isolation

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Workers on low incomes in parts of England where there are high rates of coronavirus will be able to claim up to £182 if they have to self-isolate.

From Tuesday, those who claim Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit and cannot work from home will be able to get the money – equal to £13 a day.

The benefit will be tested out firstly in Blackburn, North-West England. Employed of self-employed people who are tested positive will be required to self isolate for 10 days and will be able to claim £130. However, with members of the household who tested positive and must self-isolate for 14 days, will be eligible for the £182, assuming that the person fulfils the requirements.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said the payment “goes nowhere near far enough”, adding people need “full pay”.

Anyone else who is told to self-isolate by NHS contact tracers and meets the qualification criteria will also be entitled to £13 a day – about the same as statutory sick pay – for however long they must self-isolate.

The payment, announced by Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Thursday, applies to benefit claimants who live in areas where there are high numbers of coronavirus cases.

It comes as the government said a further 12 people have died with coronavirus in the UK, taking the total number of virus-related deaths to 41,477.

There were a further 1,522 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus, as of 09:00 BST on Thursday, up from 1,048 cases a day earlier. The overall number of people to have tested positive is now 330,368.

The England-wide scheme will begin with a trial in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Oldham, where there have been tighter lockdown measures after a rise in cases.

If the payment is successful it will be “quickly” rolled out to other areas where there are lots of cases, the Department of Health said.

According to data published earlier this month, nearly 5.5 million people across the UK are now claiming benefits – an 81% increase since March.

“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.

He said the payments had been introduced after feedback from England’s contact tracing programme, NHS Test and Trace, and would mean people “don’t lose out by doing the right thing”.

The health secretary told BBC Breakfast that NHS Test and Trace was now reaching “almost 80%” of contacts and the extra support will help “get the last few percentages”.


Text by Bailey Abson and Victor Cheung

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