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The Government has announced a pilot scheme to pay workers on low incomes who have to self-isolate due to the coronavirus £13 a day to encourage them to stay at home.
The Government has announced that people in receipt of Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit who have to self isolate due to the coronavirus and who cannot work from home will be able to claim £13 a day during the isolation period.
The scheme is first being trialled in Blackburn, Darwen, Pendle and Oldham from 1st September and the Government says it will be reviewed rapidly and rolled out if successful.
The scheme applies to employed and self employed people. It includes those who test positive for Covid who have to self-isolate for 10 days and members of their household, who have to self-isolate for 14 days. The latter will be entitled to a payment of £182 over the two-week period. Non-household contacts advised to self-isolate through NHS Test and Trace will also be entitled to a payment of up to £182, tailored to the individual length of their isolation period.
The scheme is designed for people who are unable to work from home while self-isolating and will be available to people currently receiving either Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock 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.”
He added that payments would be provided within 48 hours of the eligible individual providing the necessary evidence. Individuals will be asked to provide a notification from NHS Test and Trace and a bank statement. Local authorities can also check the Test and Trace system.
The Government says the trial scheme will be rapidly reviewed so that it can be rolled out.
Critics, including Manchester’s mayor Andy Burnham, have welcomed the scheme, but says the amount is not nearly enough to encourage people to self isolate and lose income.
The Resolution Foundation think tank said the money, combined with Universal Credit payments, would help, but that many people would miss out.
Karl Handscomb, Senior Economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Today’s announcement is a welcome recognition of the need to provide additional financial support to workers who are asked to self-isolate in the event of local lockdowns.
“Up to four million workers in low-income families could be entitled to this new support, with new RF analysis suggesting that a worker earning around £370 a week would have 90 per cent of lost income replaced by a combination of a higher Universal Credit payment and this new support.
“However, this is a very partial approach, with seven-in-eight workers not entitled to this help because their households do not receive benefits. Most obviously, middle and higher earners will miss out, but so too will some low-paid workers with low housing costs and no children.
“The Government will need to go further in the event of more severe lockdowns this Autumn, with a postcode-based Job Retention Scheme offering the best way forward.”