Monday, 26 Oct 2020

Low income workers forced to self-isolate will get £500

People on low incomes who need to self-isolate will be given £500 by the Government, the Health Secretary has confirmed.

Matt Hancock said people would be eligible for the payments from Monday, in a statement to the House of Commons which also explained who get priority for coronavirus tests and outlined local lockdown exemptions for childcare.

He said: ‘Self-isolation can be tough for many people especially if you’re not in a position to work from home. I don’t want anyone having to worry about their finances while they’re doing the right thing.

‘So we will introduce a new £500 isolation support payment for people on low incomes who can’t work because they have tested positive or are asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.’ 

The widely-expected announcement follows calls to offer help to worse off workers who fear a loss in incomes because of being forced to stay at home. 

Mr Hancock added that funding for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would be sent to devolved governments.

He also said acute clinical care would be given first priority for testing; followed by care homes; NHS staff, including GPs and pharmacists; targeted testing for specific outbreak surveillance; symptomatic teachers; and finally the general public with symptom in areas of high incidents.

It comes as Mr Hancock also confirmed local lockdown restrictions in England will be eased to allow people to look after children or vulnerable adults from outside their household.

He acknowledged that such arrangements were a ‘lifeline’ for many people, and without them they were unable to do their jobs.

Mr Hancock said the exemption would not allow parents to send their children to ‘playdates or parties’ with friends from another household, but announced a new exemption for looking after children under the age of 14 or vulnerable adults, both formal and informal.

Meanwhile, Labour MP John Cryer pressured the Health Secretary over why he was still hearing ‘myriad stories’ of people being unable to get tests, claiming one constituent was told to travel 600 miles.

He asked: ‘Why is that the case when we’re constantly told by ministers that there’s no problem?’

Mr Hancock responded: ‘Nobody’s addressed the problems and the challenges that we have got in the testing system more than me and what we need to do is resolve those problems, as we have in the very large part resolved the problem of people being sent long distances.

‘I’d love to know the example that he cites because I am told that that problem in the system was fixed last week and if there’s a more recent example then I want to know about it.’

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