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Workers on low incomes in parts of England with high coronavirus rates will be able to claim money from the Government if they are forced to self isolate. The move comes after calls from the public and public figures which highlighted that those in low-income jobs are more likely to be working public facing or other jobs which cannot be done from home.
The new benefit is being trialled in the north west of England before potentially being rolled out in other areas.
Announced by the Health Secretary on Thursday, it will only be given to those in areas with a high number of new coronavirus cases.
The trial will begin in Blackburn and Darwen, Pendle and Oldham, where lockdown restrictions are currently in place following a spike.
“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.
Mr Hancock said the payment was introduced following feedback from the UK’s much maligned NHS Test and Trace system, and it means that no one would “lose out by doing the right thing”.
He also said the system was now reaching “almost 80 percent” of contacts given by those who test positive.
Latest figures for the week to 19 August suggest 72% of people who tested positive were reached by NHS Test and Trace.
Those people provided details of more than 24,000 close contacts and just over 75 percent of those were reached.
How much can you get?
The system will give you £13 per day you are in self isolation.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said he had been “calling for weeks” for the Government to provide financial support for those asked to self-isolate.
He said: “I am pleased they have at last acknowledged this issue but am sorry to say this move goes nowhere near far enough.
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“The health secretary has already said that he couldn’t live on Statutory Sick Pay at £95 a week. So how can an announcement like this work?”
Mohammed Iqbal, Labour leader of Pendle Borough Council in Lancashire, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that while financial support was welcome, £13 a day was “a slap in the face”.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her government had encouraged UK ministers to put support in place – but that more detail was needed about how it would be introduced.
She said: “It seems to me to make sense for [payments] to be administered through existing welfare or benefits systems, and obviously we are seeking to understand what the financial consequential position is for the Scottish Government.”
Who is eligible for low income payments?
The benefit is for those who are on Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit benefits only.
People will need to provide evidence – including, for example, proof of a positive test, a message from NHS Test and Trace and a bank statement – and the money will be provided within 48 hours, the Government said.
The Government said checks will be undertaken to make sure people who apply are unable to work from home.
The payment will not reduce any other benefits that a person may already receive.
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