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Labour urges Government to extend support for Covid-19 self-isolation
21 February 2021, 23:06
The Labour party has urged the Government to extend the eligibility criteria for financial support for people told to self-isolate to improve compliance and prevent another lockdown.
Labour said the £500 payment, which can be claimed by those who cannot work from home but need to isolate, should be available to everyone without access to workplace sick pay.
The Test and Trace Support Payment applies to both employed and self-employed people in England, but there is concern that some people who need it are unable to access it.
Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said just three in 10 people who should be self-isolating are doing so, arguing that expanding the support system would improve compliance.
Under Labour's proposal, the payment would be available to anyone who does not have access to occupational sick pay, while low-income parents of self-isolating children would also be eligible.
The party also wants the 'No Recourse to Public Funds' rule suspended.
Ms Dodds said: "Anyone who needs support to self-isolate should be able to access it - no matter where they live or when they develop symptoms.
"That is the only way we can keep the virus under control when restrictions are lifted, avoid the devastating economic damage of another lockdown and help the vaccine programme succeed.
"However, under the current system just three in 10 people who should be self-isolating are doing so.
"The Government's road map to recovery must improve the system of self-isolation in this country.
"That means expanding the Test and Trace Support Payment to those who don't have a workplace sick pay scheme, better enforcement, and action to fix the broken system of Statutory Sick Pay.
"This will help prevent another lockdown, protect public health and secure our economy."
Earlier this month Baroness Dido Harding, head of NHS Test and Trace, said that around 20,000 people a day are not fully complying with instructions to self-isolate.
She said research has shown that between 40% and 20% of people contacted by the programme are not fully self-isolating after being instructed to do so.
One of the reasons for poor compliance, she said, was that some people cannot afford to stay at home and feel they need to go to work.