Workers on low incomes in parts of England with high rates of Covid-19 will be able to claim £13 per day if they have to self-isolate and are unable to work from home.
People who are employed or self-employed and receive either Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit will be eligible for the £130 payment for the 10 days they need to self-isolate if they test positive for the coronavirus. Other eligible members of their household, who will have to self-isolate for 14 days, will be entitled to a payment of £182.
People they have come into contact with outside of their household, who have been advised to self-isolate through NHS Test and Trace, will also be able to claim up to £182, depending on the length of time they have been told to stay at home.
The scheme will begin on 1 September with a trial in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Oldham.
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.
“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.”
Those making a claim will need to provide a notification of their test results from NHS Test and Trace and a bank statement. Those who are self-employed will need to show evidence of their trading income. If the individual is unable to provide this information local authorities will put checks in place to prevent fraud, such as welfare check-ins, phone calls and employment checks.
The scheme has been criticised for falling far short of the income workers would normally receive should they be able to work.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said low-paid workers should receive their full normal wage for the period they are self-isolating, which could then be claimed back from the government.
“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?” he said.
“For many workers in Greater Manchester, this will not provide the support people need to cooperate with NHS Test and Trace. 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.”
He later said on Twitter that the UK needed a scheme like the Jury Service scheme, where people can claim for a loss of earnings allowance.
It’s good the Government has at last acknowledged the problem of people who can’t afford to self-isolate. 👍
But this sadly isn’t the solution. It leaves people without enough to live on. 👎
— Andy Burnham (@AndyBurnhamGM) August 27, 2020
Mohammed Iqbal, Labour leader of Pendle Borough Council in Lancashire, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that £13 was “a slap in the face”.
“I’ve spoken to people who have tested positive who I have persuaded to stay home and the kick back from them is to say… ‘who is going to put food on the table for my wife and children?’, and that is a question we have been pushing back to government for a few weeks now,” he said.