Monday 22 February 2021 / 8:40 AM Anneliese Dodds / Coronavirus / Economy

Labour calls for expansion of support for self-isolation to avoid fourth national lockdown

Labour is today (Monday) urging the Government to extend eligibility for the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment to anyone without access to workplace sick pay to help keep the virus under control and prevent a fourth national lockdown.

Dido Harding, Head of Test and Trace, has said 20,000 people a day are not self-isolating because they cannot afford not to work.

SAGE scientists have said financial hardship is a barrier to self-isolation, but only one in eight workers are currently automatically able to access the Test and Trace Support Payment.

Under Labour’s proposals anyone who doesn’t have access to occupational sick pay should be eligible to receive the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment. Low-income parents of self-isolating children would also receive it and the ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ rule would be suspended.

Labour’s call comes as new analysis from the party reveals that the current national lockdown is costing the economy £1.6 billion a week. With only three in 10 people currently self-isolating when asked to, Labour is warning that the Conservative government’s failure to reset the system for self-isolation risks further economic damage once the current national restrictions end.

Labour is also calling for the government to urgently investigate whether Statutory Sick Pay is acting as a barrier to self-isolation; and commit to reforming Statutory Sick Pay for the future. At just £95.85 a week, even Health Secretary Matt Hancock has admitted SSP is not enough to live on.

 

Anneliese Dodds MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, 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 roadmap 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.”