Andy Burnham calls for government to pay wages of those forced to self-isolate

7 August 2020, 11:03

By Adrian Sherling

Andy Burnham said the Test & Trace system is "nowhere near good enough" and called for the government to pay people's wages if they have to self-isolate.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester told LBC that the Test & Trace scheme is currently only reaching just over half of the contacts of people who test positive.

He said some people can't afford to self-isolate and not work for two weeks, so the government need to incentivise it.

Speaking to Tom Swarbrick, he said: "52% of people in Greater Manchester who have been named by someone who has tested positive have been reached and clearly that's nowhere near good enough.

"Especially with schools coming back in a number of weeks now, we need to get this system to a much higher standard than it's currently operating at.

"We're asking the government to give to local areas the names of people the national system cannot reach. If they spend a day trying to get hold of someone and can't, they should immediately pass that to the local area.

"We will then pick it up and do some old-fashioned door-knocking and get hold of people. Where we do contract tracing, we have a 98% success rate."

Andy Burnham said Test & Trace is "nowhere near good enough"
Andy Burnham said Test & Trace is "nowhere near good enough". Picture: PA / LBC

One of the reasons people don't take the calls is that they simply cannot afford to take two weeks off work.

He added: "There are many people in some of our poorest communities who know that they cannot agree to a request to self-isolate for 14 days because they won't be paid or worse, they fear losing their jobs.

"I'm talking about people on zero-hours contracts, people who are self-employed, even people who have access to statutory sick pay, which is meant to cover the self-isolation period, but it's only £95 per week.

"This is at the heart of why this system is not working."

When Tom recommended a payment, similar to that for people on jury service, Mr Burnham was fully behind the scheme, adding: "That is exactly what I would do.

"If you get a message to serve on a jury, you're being asked to do your public duty and it's the same for NHS Test and Trace.

"We've got to create a situation where no one thinks twice about that message, they immediately think 'I'll do it' and I can do it without worrying about feeding my kids of paying the bill."