Ministers will soon be reviewing a proposal that could potentially see COVID positive persons receive £500 in order to self-isolate.
An incentive to self-isolate
If approved, the new move would be part of a new incentive scheme that would help encourage self-isolation and coronavirus testing.
The proposal comes as fears are currently circulating suggesting that current financial aid isn’t working as low paid workers still cannot afford to take time away from work to self-isolate.
Government polling has revealed that currently, only 17% of those with symptoms of COVID were coming forward for testing over fears that they would then have to miss work.
Last year another £500 grant was also put in place for low-income workers who had to self isolate. However, the funds which were granted by local authorities and funded by the government have seen incredibly high rejection rates. Figures reported by Labour showed that between October and December 2020, three-quarters of the 49,877 applicants were denied the grant.
The new plan, which could cost upwards of £450 million per week was revealed on Thursday to be the preferred proposal of Health Secretary Matt Hancock and would apply to anyone in England regardless of age, employment status, or ability to work from home.
Unlikely to happen anytime soon
Introducing the new payment plan could cost up to 12 times that of the current £500 aid. BBC political correspondent Ben Wright confirmed that this heightened cost makes the scheme unlikely to be approved anytime soon. However, he did confirm that the financial consequences of quarantinewas an ongoing discussion in the government.
Environment Secretary George Eustice recently spoke to BBC Breakfast on the issue stating that financial support for isolation was being ‘kept under review’. He continued to explain that many people who were ‘financially vulnerable’ have been hesitant to self-isolate if it meant they wouldn’t be able to work:
We've got to consider all sorts of policies in order to make sure that people abide by the rules, are able to abide by the rules and we get the infection rate down.
The proposal is just one part of a 16 page plan that also seeks to give police access to medical information for the first time, in order to crack down on those who flout quarantine rules. A DHSC spokesperson announced:
We are in one of the toughest moments of this pandemic and it is incumbent on all of us to help protect the NHS by staying at home and following the rules.
The DHSC spokesperson continued to pass over the £500 plan but seemed to hint that the payment proposal would be mooted, highlighting that local authorities were in charge of Test and Trace support payments:
All local authority costs for administering the Test and Trace support payment scheme are covered by the Government, and each authority is empowered to make discretionary payments outside of the scheme. £50 million was invested when the scheme launched, and we are providing a further £20 million to help support people on low incomes who need to self-isolate.