UK to pay people on low incomes for self-isolating in Covid-19 pandemic

LONDON The UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government will pay workers on low incomes £13 (RM71.50) a day, if they are self-isolating during the coronavirus pandemic.

The payments will begin on a trial basis from Sept 1 in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Oldham, areas of northwest England that currently have additional social distancing-rules in place to contain local Covid-19 outbreaks, the Department for Health said in a statement.

Boris Johnson’s government has been under pressure to boost support for people who are forced to self-isolate after testing positive for Covid-19 or who come into contact with a confirmed case. Without financial help, there is a risk that staff will continue to work, potentially contributing to a new spike in the virus that could again cause parts of the economy to shut down.

“We need to make sure the systems work and we need to get money to people fast,” Hancock told the BBC yesterday when asked why the payment programme is limited to a trial, to begin with. “We’ll see how that goes, we’ll get the feedback, with the potential to roll it out further.”

The payments will only be made available to workers who are unable to carry out their jobs from home and who are already receiving either Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit income support.

Those who test positive will receive £130 for a 10-day quarantine period, and those required to self-isolate for two weeks because they’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive will receive £182, according to the department.

A group of leading trade unions and senior members of the Opposition Labour Party is backing a “Time Out to Help Out” campaign to press the government for workers to receive full pay during self-isolation periods. Labour Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham said the government’s plan “goes nowhere near far enough”, the BBC reported. — Bloomberg